UK Awards - Applying FAQs

Q: What exactly should I do to prepare before beginning my application?

A: Read the webpage for the award category to which you intend to apply, especially the UK Country Specifc Application Instructions (found here: for Postgraduates and for Scholars) and the Award Terms and Conditions.

We also recommend that Postgraduate candidates make full use of the Fulbright Commission’s Advisory Service as they do their research to choose which US university to apply to, including the webpages on postgraduate study in the USA, outreach events at UK universities and USA Grad School Day event.


Q: I’ve found the application. Are there any special rules for completing it?

A: Yes, There are UK-specific instructions which you must follow carefully to ensure you complete the application correctly. These instructions are found on each award's page on the Fulbright website. You must follow these instructions closely. Make sure that all elements of your application – including references – are typed. None of the questions are “trick” questions; we just want honest answers to the questions we ask. Read the questions carefully and fill in the form according to the application instructions. Not every section will apply to you (eg ‘publications’ or ‘teaching experience’). If it does not apply then write “Not Applicable” or ‘N/A’ so that we know you have not overlooked it.


Q: What exactly do you mean by 'extra-curricular activities'?

A: List all the things you have done or achieved while at university or since, for example if you were active in your Student Union, founded a society or mentored younger students. For candidates already in a profession, an example might be running a social action group, eg soup kitchens for the homeless or a leader of a youth club, or organising sporting activities, etc. Candidates who devote much spare time to the practice of their subject (eg music or art) will not be penalised for having a majority of their activities related to that subject, but they are expected to demonstrate leadership skills and initiative within their subject or in other ways.


Q: What do you want to see in my Research/Study Objectives and Personal Statement?

A: The Research/Study Objectives and Personal Statement are your opportunity to explain to the selection committee why you want to go to the US. If your statements are unclear and/or vague, it is unlikely that you will be offered an interview.

Postgraduate Award candidates: please review our guidance on the benefits of postgraduate study in the US and writing personal statements.

Q: There is a 50 line limit 'advised' for both the personal statement and the research objectives. Are applicants able to go over the advised line limit, or do we specifically have to adhere to the 50 line rule?

A: 50 lines is the recommendation but slightly longer statements can be accepted. Be sure to preview your application as a pdf before submitting it to check that no text has been cut off. We will not ask you for an ammended version if we cannot read the version you submit, which may put you at a disadvantage if we cannot read your entire statement.


Q: What do you want to see in my references?

A: You should ask people who know you very well, and preferably those who can comment on your academic ability as well as your leadership, character and interests. Draw your referees’ attention to the guidelines at the top of the form on Embark. We also recommend that your referees read your Statement of Purpose. The selection committee wants evidence that you have attained a high academic standard and, where applicable, evidence of excellence in the workplace is also useful. Where possible one reference should come from a supervisor of your academic work, and another should come from a supervisor of your non-academic work (eg employment, extracurricular activities or volunteering).  References must be typed and contain contact details of the author. 

Your 3 references must be submitted by the application deadline or your application will be deemed incomplete and will not be considered. Make sure to contact your referees early and make them aware of the deadline with plenty of time to submit. References will be submitted through Embark only and there are instructions on how this is done in the UK specific application instructions (found on each award's webpage on the FUlbrihgt website). 


Q: I am a new graduate and am “temping” at the moment. Should my employer send a reference?

A: If the work you are doing is not directly relevant to your application and/or career plans, you should arrange for references from someone else.


Q: Which standardised tests are required for the Fulbright application?

A: For the Fulbright application, none are required. However, you will most likely need standardised test results for an application to a US university. As a general rule the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) examination is required for entrance onto postgraduate courses at American universities, however, there are many exceptions. For example, the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is required for admission consideration for most Business Administration (MBA) programmes. Please review our guidance on admissions exams.


Q: The online application system has prompted me to get permission from the Fulbright Commission before I proceed.  What should I do?

A:  You should not contact the Commission before completing your application. You may proceed with your application.

Normally, this message is intended to ensure that you meet the minimum eligibility requirements, have read the Terms and Conditions of the award category to which you are applying, and understand the application process.  If you follow the UK Country Specific Application Instructions (found on each award's page on the Fulbright website) whilst making your application, you should not need to contact the Commission.


Q: Does the US university I want to apply to have to provide a letter of confirmation for my Fulbright application?

A: For postgraduate awards: No, at the time of application Fulbright does not require you to seek approval from a US university to which you have not yet been admitted. You will need to gain acceptance to a US university in order to take up the Fulbright award. If you have been accepted to a degree programme or been invited as a visiting student researcher at the time of your application, you should include the letter of admission or invitation in your application. 

For scholar awards: Yes, you do need to provide a letter of affiliation from your prospective host stating that they are willing to host you as a visiting scholar.


Q: What happens after I submit my application?

A: Your application is reviewed for completeness and eligibility. Your application is then passed on to subject-specific reading panels for further review. We will typically contact you one to two weeks before the interview date to let you know if your application has been shortlisted and if you will be invited to interview. Details of individual Award categories' interview dates can be found on their respective webpages.


Q: How many applications do you receive each year?

A: The number of applications we receive each year fluctuates. We do not release the numbers of applications we receive.


Q: How many awards are offered each year?

A: The Fulbright Commission receives a varying sum of money each year from the UK and US governments, sponsors and universities to fund the Fulbright Awards Programme. This means that the number of awards is not fixed and can change depending on the amount of available resources, tuition fees inflation and the number of sponsored awards offered. Recently this has been approximately 20-25 UK Postgraduate Student Awards, and 20-25 UK Scholars Awards.


Q: Can I apply for a Fulbright scholarship for a dual degree programme with the first year in the US?  With the first year in the UK? In Europe or elsewhere?

A: Yes. You must apply in the year prior to the year in the US, even if you have already started the programme at that point. Please contact the Commission for further information. 


Q: I was unsuccessful applying for a Fulbright award in the past. Can I apply again?

A: Yes. If you choose to apply again, your application will be evaluated against the pool pf applicants in the new competition and please be aware that your previous results will not have any effect on your current application.


Q: I have already had a Fulbright award before. Can I apply again?

A: Yes. If you choose to apply again, your application will be evaluated against the pool pf applicants in the new competition and please be aware that your previous results will not have any effect on your current application.

Q: I am a postdoc. Which category do I apply in?

A: If an applicant has or will receive a PhD prior to their Fulbright year in the US, they must apply in a Scholar category. Scholars may pursue research and/or lecturing in the US.


Q: I am studying a field in which Fulbright offers a special award, such as journalism.  Which category should I apply in, the All-disciplines or Alistair Cooke Award category?

A: Applicants should always apply in the special award category if their field of interest falls within the disciplines supported by the special Award. The All-Disciplines award is by nature the most competitive on offer, as it is open to applications from all disciplines to all US universities. Therefore, the subject-specific or university-specific awards are naturally less competitive, and you should apply in those categories if you are eligible.


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