Pack Hacks for Faculty: Pursuing a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Fellowship

Welcome back to Pack Hacks for Faculty. Each month, a member of the NC State faculty will provide quick tips, advice and other insight to facilitate your teaching, research, scholarship or engagement activities. If you are interested in making a submission for a future Pack Hacks for Faculty, please review our submission guidelines and contact provost-communications@ncsu.edu if you have questions.

This month, Micah Vandegrift, a Fulbright-Schuman Fellow and an open knowledge librarian for the NC State University Libraries, along with faculty colleagues from around the university, provide insight into applying for and obtaining a Fulbright U.S. Scholar fellowship.

*Even though the U.S. Fulbright Program is suspended for current participants as a result of COVID-19, the application for the 2021-2022 academic year is open.

Pursuing a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Fellowship

Micah Vandegrift

Micah VandegriftNC State often tops the list of higher education institutions producing the most Fulbright U.S. Scholars in the nation. This prestigious grant program provides scholars, artists and professionals with funding to study, teach English and conduct research overseas. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend my fellowship at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, shortly after being hired as an open knowledge librarian at the NC State University Libraries. Here I, along with some of my colleagues, give some insight into and tips on applying to be a Fulbright U.S. Scholar.

Open Access Is Important

Open access has a long history in academia, and recent technologies have given us even more ways to distribute scholarly output. Because I took a stance on the importance of open access from the beginning of my career, all of my scholarly work has been available online. I credit this with helping my eventual colleagues at Maastricht University discover my work and advocate for my fellowship. The more easily accessible your work, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to form relationships from someone reading one of your articles.

Know What’s Happening in Your Field, Around the World

In order to more firmly establish yourself in your field, it is important to know the national conference circuit and make presentations at various symposia. But don’t stop there. Once I had developed a national reputation in my field, I asked, “What’s next?” A mentor of mine said that I should be looking internationally to build upon my regional and national connections. Leverage those into international collaborations, and look at global conferences as another way to establish those relationships. Then you’ll be able to more easily have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your field in other countries and give a more well-rounded Fulbright application.

  • Try to identify and exchange emails with specific contacts at the host institution who can discuss your work on your behalf at their end. Endorsement from the host institution is a plus. – Maria Oliver-Hoyo, associate dean for academic affairs, College of Sciences, and professor, Department of Chemistry

Address What You Bring to the Table

When putting together an application, demonstrate how your work and research will benefit the host institution. Showing the reach and positive impact of your work will give your application a boost. My colleagues have some great advice in this area as well.

  • Explain both your contribution to your host institution and what you will learn.” – Carla Barbieri, professor and extension specialist, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • Do research regarding the specific needs of your potential host institution and country, and be sure to mention those in your proposal. Also mention in your proposal the benefits of your scholarship to your potential host institution and country, along with the global significance of your work. – Patrick Rand, professor, School of Architecture
  • Mention what you might do in/for the community beyond the Fulbright host institution.  For example, I led writing groups in the community. Another Fulbright scholar volunteered to help with a soccer team. – Ruie Pritchard, professor emeritus, Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences

Yes, You Are a Good Candidate!

I had been interested in applying for a Fulbright, but I wasn’t a member of the research faculty. That’s ok! Regardless of your field, you are a candidate. Sometimes one of the biggest things holding someone back from achieving an honor like a Fulbright Fellowship is being unsure if you can do it. With your expertise, research, published works, connections and more at your disposal, you’re certainly able to put together a solid candidacy.

  • Don’t be pre-discouraged — give it a shot! – Patrick Rand

Take Advantage of Available Resources

NC State has a wide variety of resources to help you in your pursuit of a Fulbright. The Office of Faculty Affairs, the NC State University Libraries and the Provost’s Office are great resources who can provide you with more information on a Fulbright Fellowship, how to apply and much more.

Other Helpful Advice

  • Like with any proposal give as many specifics as possible. It shows you have done your homework. – Maria Oliver-Hoyo
  • One way I was able to solicit a letter of support from a university in Chile was to get a list of Fulbright alum or contacts in Chile from the Chilean Fulbright Office. I then wrote to each Chilean Fulbrighter offering my areas of expertise. When writing your own proposal, I also suggest organizing it by inserting subtitles or subheadings; the readers will appreciate this. – Jillian Haeseler, assistant teaching professor, director of English as a Second Language, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Do your research regarding past recipients in a similar Fulbright position at that institution and country. If a recent recipient can be identified, consider contacting that person to ask for comments about your proposal. If past recipients show a pattern regarding what they did, consider following that pattern yourself. For instance, all research, all teaching, 50/50 research and teaching, etc.Patrick Rand
  • To build off John F. Kennedy’s famous inaugural speech in 1961 – “Ask not what Fulbright can do for you, but what you can do for the host institution.” – Heidi Hobbs, director, Master of International Studies Program, School of Public and International Affairs, associate professor, Department of Political Science

Micah Vandegrift is an open knowledge librarian for the NC State University Libraries. He can be reached at mlvandeg@ncsu.edu and is on Twitter at @micahvandegrift. His Fulbright proposal and all materials from the project are available at https://osf.io/254vf/


If you have questions about applying for a Fulbright U.S. Scholar fellowship or any other faculty awards, please contact Maria Almanza, director of faculty awards and recognition at maria_almanza@ncsu.edu. 

Upcoming Events of Interest

Fulbright Informational Session with Fulbright Program Specialist

  • May 14, 1-2 p.m. EST
  • Fulbright Outreach and Recruitment Specialist, Michelle Bolourchi, will provide an overview of current Fulbright programming, answer your questions, and offer suggestions for applicants. This event will be recorded for those unable to attend. Please rsvp for this virtual event via the google form. The zoom link for this event will be shared with those who RSVP in advance of the session. 

Fulbright Fridays: One-on-One Advising

  • Every Friday from May 1-Sept. 4, 2020
  • Fulbright Fridays is an opportunity for faculty and staff to get one-on-one advice on Fulbright programming and support for developing your application materials. Fulbright Fridays is aimed at applicants at all stages of the process, whether you are just contemplating applying or are working on materials. Interested faculty and staff can sign up by searching the google calendar available here
  • How do I sign up? 1) Click on an available calendar slot. Appointment slots are available each Friday beginning May 1. 2) At the bottom of the “Book Appointment” screen, click save. This will automatically place a hold on the time slot. 3) You will be emailed shortly after to gather more information about your needs and to share a zoom invite to the meeting. 

This post was originally published in Provost's Office News.