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How to get a Fulbright scholarship

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Contents

  1. Intro
  2. My Fulbright Statement of Purpose Essay
  3. My Fulbright Study Objectives Essay
  4. Resources

Intro

I made this post to share resources and tips for foreign students to win a Fulbright scholarship and study a Master’s or PhD in the US for free. The Fulbright program provides scholarships for +135 countries, and each country office will conduct an annual application process to choose their candidates. In my case, I applied to the opening in Argentina since this is my home country.

The Fulbright application is very similar to the real college application - you have to provide your resume, your academic transcript, pass a valid English exam (TOEFL for example), and compose two essays.

From what I’ve seen among fellow Fulbrighters, a typical Fulbright scholar has either did research in its field of study, has impressive work experience, or perfect academic history. Usually, when you apply, you already have finished your degree and you have your resume built already, so there’s not much you can do there - the opportunity to demonstrate that you are a perfect candidate is through the essays. There are two: a Statement of Purpose and a Study Objectives. I’ll share fragments of what I wrote for these two essays.

My Fulbright Statement of Purpose Essay

The SOP is a personal narration of how I discovered a talent for statistics and how I applied it to my personal goals of aiding the most vulnerable. I opened my essay sharing how I (unexpectedly) became interested in my field of study; to then make substantial achievements in the use of data and statistics to aid vulnerable populations. Then I briefly mentioned the topic of my research, and in the last paragraph, the potential benefits this technology can bring to Argentina.

The openings of each paragraph show the structure of the essay:

My Fulbright Study Objectives Essay

This essay should be about the future: what’s your research plan and how you will apply your learnings back in your home country. My Study Objectives essay was chronologically structured. In the beginning I showed how I gained some experience in my area of research first, in what direction I’m planning to do research then; and in the closing paragraphs, how this research has practical applications that can be applied in my home country in the future:

As you may see, there is a small overlap in both Statement of Purpose and Study Objectives. Although in both of them I mention my background and my personal goals - in the first essay I’m mostly focused on describing my past and how I became interested in my field of study and further research; while in the second essay I go more into detail about the program I want to pursue and the practical applications of this field of study.

Resources

To write your essays, I strongly suggest learning what’s the structure of essays used in college applications. Fulbright application it’s just a mock application to graduate school.

  1. Introduce who you are
  2. Detail about your academic and technical interest (or work experience)
  3. Future academic goals – your future in the department. Connect your interest with your goal.
  4. Short and long-term goals – what you will achieve with this program.
  5. Praise the program

Another useful resource is to directly read statements that students used to get admitted to top schools. I found more videos than written content, but it’s still great guidance:

Useful people on the internet

Finally, your application should be proofread by other people who can give you useful feedback. If (like me) you don’t have friends in grad school who can help out, try asking on Reddit for help, it always helps!


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