The Fulbright program was created in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchange. There are many types of Fulbright grants. The ones administered by the Eastman School are for students and alums who have finished a bachelor’s degree and/or are master’s and doctoral candidates, and who have a specific project for study abroad that they would like to pursue.
To qualify for a Fulbright:
- You must be a U.S. citizen at the time of application.
- Preference will be given to applicants whose higher education was received primarily in the U.S.
- You must hold a B.A. degree or the equivalent before the beginning of the grant.
- Note: in the creative or performing arts, four years of professional study and experience meet the basic eligibility requirement.
- You may not hold a doctoral degree at the time of application.
- You must have sufficient proficiency in the written and spoken language of the host country to communicate with the people and carry out the proposed study.
- Note: Each country has different requirements. Some with less commonly taught languages do not insist that applicants have prior knowledge. However, it strengthens your chances if you do.
- You must be in good health.
There are numerous factors that bear on the selection process, including:
- a candidate’s academic and professional record,
- language preparation,
- feasibility of proposed study project,
- extent to which the project helps to advance to program’s aim of promoting mutual understanding among nations,
- ability of the supervising agencies abroad to arrange supervision,
- requirements of individual countries (these vary, so check carefully at the Fulbright country information pages to see if you qualify), and
- ratio between number of applicants and number of awards given for a particular country. Again, check carefully at the Fulbright country page to see if you qualify as this varies from 1:2 to 1:35, and should be taken into consideration, wherever possible. Chances for success are enhanced in less competitive countries.
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, usually by your junior year or first year of graduate study, even if you are not applying for a few years. It takes time to put together a good project and strong dossier. Talk with professors and others who might have information and contacts, contact the institution where you would like to study, and/or the teacher with whom you would like to work. Start learning the language, if you do not know it already. If you need to submit a recording, read the instructions carefully about the requirements and repertoire, and make arrangements for a recording session. If you will be in your chosen country before you apply, try to speak with the host institution/teacher to get as much information as possible, and to make any necessary arrangements. Also, in the interview overseen by the Eastman faculty recommendation committee you will be asked to address (in general terms) the culture, history, and current events of the host country. Start reading the newspaper!
First discuss your project with Prof. Timothy Scheie, Eastman Fulbright advisor. You must then fill out an official Fulbright application (available online at the Fulbright homepage). You should be forewarned that you will need dedicate a considerable amount of time working on the application in coordination with Prof. Scheie to prepare the best possible proposal. This is an involved application with many different parts. These include:
Proposed Study or Project. This is probably the single most important part of the application. You should outline in as much detail as possible study plans and projects that can be completed in one academic year. Give a justification for your project (Why is it important? Why must you go abroad to do this? Why this country, this teacher, and/or this university? What good will it do for your career, and for society, in the future? How are you well-qualified to carry it out? etc.) as well as all of the logistics (Will I be accepted at this university? Has a teacher agreed to take me as a student? How will I pick up the language, if I don’t know it yet? etc.). Letters from the host institution or teacher are valuable support for a project. Be as specific as possible; the more you know about the project, the better you can articulate it. We will discuss strategies for writing good proposals at the Fulbright informational meetings, held in the spring and fall.
A narrative curriculum vitae. You must submit a narrative self-portrait that is not a reiteration of the project, nor of the information on the application forms. This is often difficult to write without falling back on meaningless clichés, so think carefully about how you will portray yourself and your past.
An audition recording. If you are seeking a grant in applied music or performance, you must submit an audition recording. Make arrangements as soon as possible to have this done, and check the requirements carefully.
Letters of recommendation. You will need three (3) letters of recommendation in addition to the language evaluation.
After completing the application process, there will be a 30 minute interview with a committee of Eastman faculty. While this is not a “cut” (all files, regardless of the interview committee’s recommendation, are sent on to New York), the committee’s comments and rankings will be shared with the central Fulbright office in New York City.
In January, the Fulbright office notifies you if you are recommended or not recommended for a grant. This is the big “cut.” If you are recommended, you stand a good chance (50/50) of receiving a grant, and your file is sent to the host country for consideration. Not all recommended candidates receive grants, however. At some time between March and June, the final notification will arrive. This is inconveniently late for some candidates, so be forewarned.
There will be an informational meeting in the Spring and the Fall. At the Spring meeting, general information about the Fulbright program, eligibility, the nature of a “good” project, how to choose a country, etc. will be discussed. These same topics will be addressed at the fall meeting, along with a workshop on how to write a strong proposal that addresses all of the Fulbright program’s concerns. You may always make an appointment with Prof. Scheie to discuss your project or ask questions.
The Fulbright homepage also provides a wealth of information.
For more information contact:
Prof. Timothy Scheie
Eastman School of Music
26 Gibbs Street
Rochester, NY 14604