Fulbright Program offers opportunity, flexibility to teach and research abroad

Posted on February 10, 2023

people standing together near a display of world flags

The Fulbright Program was created in 1946 to promote international exchange and understanding. Today, the program helps some 8,000 individuals every year to teach, learn, and research in more than 130 countries worldwide. Our office recently held a webinar on the program and how UNCG supports faculty who pursue these fellowships. View the recording here. 

Administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the Fulbright Program includes a dozen or so distinct grant programs targeting different participants and experiences. This post will focus on three programs of interest to UNCG scholars and administrators: 

  • Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program
  • Fulbright Specialist Program
  • Fulbright International Educational Administrators (IEA) seminars

Each year, the Fulbright U.S. Scholars Program sends hundreds of American scholars abroad to teach, conduct research, or carry out a professional project such as a performance, exhibition, or artist residency. Awards vary by country and discipline, with terms ranging from a few months to a full year. Some awards are restricted to certain career levels, and benefits also vary by country and award type. In general, the Fulbright Scholar awards cover travel and living expenses in-country for the scholar and accompanying dependents. Placements may involve teaching, research, or both, and some require the applicant to obtain an “invitation letter” from the foreign institution to be included in the application package. 

Many locations offer a “Flex” option, which allows scholars to carry out projects over multiple short visits to the host country over one or two years. This option was recently developed to provide opportunities for scholars who cannot spend long periods of time abroad.

The Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Awards are open to scholars with more than seven years of experience in their field, while Fulbright Postdoctoral Awards are open to postdocs who have received their doctoral degree within 5 to 7 years, depending on the award.

Scholars could also seek a Fulbright Global Scholar Award, which would support a multi-country project over the course of one or two years. With this award, a scholar could visit two or three countries in a single trip, visit two or three countries separately, or visit two countries back-to-back on separate trips. 

The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals abroad to serve as consultants on curriculum, faculty development, and institutional planning at foreign institutions. These trips are short, ranging from 2 to 6 weeks. Unlike the Fulbright Scholar Program where applicants seek a particular award to visit a specific country or host institution, successful Specialist Program applicants join a roster of available experts to be matched with a host institution that seeks their expertise. Approved Specialists serve a three-year tenure on the roster, during which they may be matched on a project.

Specialists must be U.S. citizens, may not have resided abroad recently for five or more consecutive years, and must demonstrate expertise in an eligible discipline

Finally, the Fulbright International Educational Administrators (IEA) seminars are intensive, 2-week programs that connect U.S. administrators with their counterparts in higher education to foster learning and establish networks for future collaboration and student exchange. These programs are available in select countries, including India, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, and Taiwan.

Tips for Successful Fulbright Proposals:

  1. Start planning early. The U.S. Scholar competition opens in early February and closes mid-September. Applications are submitted for opportunities in the following academic year. (The application you submit in September 2023 will be for the 2024 – 2025 academic year.)
  2. Learn more. The Fulbright Program provides many resources for applicants, including webinars and office hoursUNCG has a number of former Fulbright Scholars who may also share their perspective. 
  3. Confirm your eligibility. Some opportunities require a letter of invitation, and some require foreign language proficiency.  Per CAS policy, CAS faculty may accept an off-campus assignment only once every 3 years. (In other words, two years must have elapsed since your last off-campus assignment.)
  4. Narrow your choices. The Fulbright Award Catalog has more than 406 entries, but you can narrow your search by region, country, discipline, duration, and other factors. Most countries offer multiple listings.
  5. Seek help and advice. Dr. Maria Anastasiou, Associate Provost for International Programs is UNCG’s Fulbright liaison. She can answer questions about opportunities and eligibility, review application materials, and help you connect with Fulbright alums or foreign institutions. 


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