Fulbright US Student Program: Open Study & Research Awards

Open Study/Research Awards are available in nearly 150 countries and provide funding for recent college graduates and graduate students to conduct research or do coursework overseas. Some students applying for study or research awards design their own projects, usually in coordination with advisors at universities or other institutions of higher education abroad. Others may join ongoing projects in labs or other institutions overseas, working on an aspect of a study already underway. These awards are administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and funded by the US Department of State.


Competition opens: March 31, 2020
MSU deadline: September 1, 2020
National deadline for applications: October 13, 2020


Applicant Support

  • MSU's Fulbright Program Adviser is available to assist applicants with brainstorming, learning more about the programs, developing a competitive application, and making sure all application components are completed. The adviser also works with applicants to schedule required campus interviews in the fall. Applications are completed online by students and submitted to the adviser, who then approves them for submission to IIE.
  • Applicants should work closely with their academic advisors and professors to brainstorm and refine their project ideas.

Eligibility 

  • Applicant must be a US citizen or national at the time of application.
  • Applicant must hold a Bachelor's degree or equivalent by the start of the grant.
  • Applicant must NOT hold a doctorate by the application deadline.
  • Applicant must demonstrate sufficient language proficiency to complete their project and adapt to living in the host country. Note that not all countries have a language requirement.
  • More information about eligibility and disqualifying factors can be found on the eligibility page of the IIE website.

Benefits

  • Tangible: Round trip international airfare, maintenance allowance based on living costs in the host country, supplemental health and accident coverage, tuition (in some cases), allowances for books and research materials, and language or orientation courses where appropriate.
  • Intangible: Cultural immersion opportunities, life-changing experiences, strengthen research and professional skills, great résumé builder, Fulbright alumni network of 380,000 Fulbrighters.
  • More information about benefits can be found on the award benefits page of the IIE website.

Application/Competition Timeline

Download a detailed month-by-month suggested timeline for 2020 applications. 

  • Begin by reading IIE's "Getting Started" page.
  • April-May 2020: Research possible host countries on the IIE website; make contact with faculty or other researchers in desired host institution, create an account with IIE to begin your application (selecting MSU as your institution links your application to the Fulbright Adviser), contact MSU Fulbright Adviser
  • May-July 2020: Attend webinars via IIE and MSU; begin your essays; contact referees to ask for letters of support, obtain letter of affiliation from host institution, request transcripts as needed, arrange language evaluation if applicable; continue to work on online application
  • August 2020: Finalize application; send reminders if needed for reference letters, language evaluation, and letter of affiliation
  • September 1, 2020: Submit application to MSU's Fulbright Adviser.
  • September 2020: Attend required campus interview (may be held via Zoom) to receive feedback on application; refine application and essays; gather final materials for submission
  • October 2020: Submit application to IIE before national deadline (October 13)
  • November-December 2020: Applications are reviewed by National Screening Committee
  • January 2021: Semi-finalists notified that their applications are moving to the next step; applicants not selected to advance also notified
  • February-March 2021: Semi-finalist applications are reviewed by host country Fulbright Commissions and other stakeholders. A video interview is typically conducted.
  • March-May 2021: Finalists are notified; alternates are also notified, as are applicants who were not selected.
  • September 2021: Most grants begin, corresponding to the host country's academic year.
  • More information about the application timeline can be found on the competition timeline page of the IIE website.

Open Study/Research Application Components

  • Extensive biographical data (e.g., name, contact information, birth date, details of your academic background, occupational experience, extracurricular activities, publications, and previous international experience)
  • Written components, including an abstract, plans for host country engagement (plans for civic activity in your host community), statement of grant purpose (two pages outlining your project or justification for pursuing a graduate degree program), and a personal statement (one page, who are you?)
  • Affiliation letter from host institution
  • Transcripts (MSU and any previous degrees)
  • Three letters of recommendation (submitted online by referees)
  • Foreign language evaluation (for some countries)
    • If you have advanced ability in a foreign language, you should first consider countries where that language is spoken, as your language skills will give you a competitive edge.
    • If you do not have foreign language skills, you should first consider countries whose main language is not commonly taught in the US. To varying degrees, countries in this category expect grantees to develop a working knowledge of their language while there; some provide free language classes. You may be able to include language training in your proposal.
  • More information about the various required materials can be found on the application components page of the IIE website.

Campus Resources

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