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Fulbright African Research Scholar Program 2020-2021 (Funding available)

Deadline: August 16, 2019
The U.S. Mission is now accepting applications for the Fulbright African Research Scholar Program 2020-2021. This award funds African university lecturers and professors to conduct postdoctoral research or undertake a planned program of reading and research. Two categories of grants are offered in the ARSP: research grants and program and curriculum development grants.
Research Grants
Awards of 3 to 9 months are offered for African university faculty or research institute professionals to conduct research in any academic discipline at a U.S. academic or research institution beginning no earlier than August 2020 and no later than March 2021. Applicants must hold a doctorate or equivalent terminal degree in their fields. Preference will be given to individuals who have at least three years of university teaching experience and a productive scholarly record.

Program and Curriculum Development Grants
Awards of 3 to 5 months are offered for African university faculty or administrators to conduct research in any academic discipline at a U.S. academic or research institution beginning no earlier than August 2020 and no later than March 2021. Proposals should be linked to professional duties and demonstrate how the scholar will use the knowledge gained to develop new courses, curricula, or other academic programs at the home institution. These grants are designed for university faculty or administrators with less experience and who may not have had recent access to research or instructional developments in their disciplines. A doctorate degree is not required, but applicants must hold a minimum of a master’s or equivalent graduate degree.

Eligibility

  • Open to scholars in all disciplines and without regard to gender or age; however, proposals for clinical medical research involving patient contact cannot be approved under the Fulbright Program
  • Applicants must be citizens of the country from which they apply or permanent residents qualified to hold a valid passport issued by that country
  • Applicants for research grants must hold a doctorate degree or equivalent terminal degree in their fields. Preference is given to individuals who have at least three years of university teaching experience and a productive scholarly record
  • Applicants without doctorate degrees but who hold a master’s or equivalent graduate degree are eligible in the program and curriculum development category
  • Applications for doctoral dissertation research, postdoctoral research immediately following the completion of a doctorate degree, or general professional travel, are ineligible
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have not previously received a Fulbright scholar grant
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have had no experience or limited experience in the U.S.
  • Applicants must have sufficient proficiency in English to carry out their research projects and collaborate effectively with colleagues. TOEFL exams are not required, but Posts may choose to institute local English language testing, if necessary, to evaluate applicants’ language skills. At a minimum, Posts should evaluate English-language proficiency through a documented interview conducted in-person or by videoconferencing, or by telephone if videoconferencing is not a viable option
  • Applicants must be in good health. Successful candidates will be asked to submit a Medical History and Examination Report
  • Scholars who were unsuccessful in previous competitions may re-apply. Repeat applicants should revise their proposals, update curriculum vitae, and obtain current letters of reference

Additional Information:

  • Scholars must indicate the grant category for which they are applying (research or program and curriculum development). The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) will assign scholars who do not indicate a preference to an appropriate category
  • Each application must include three letters of reference
  • Letters of invitation are strongly encouraged but not required. Applicants are discouraged from requesting affiliation with an alma mater. CIES will honor institutional affiliation preferences as far as possible. Applicants unfamiliar with U.S. institutions may request that CIES identify suitable placements.
  • Laboratory fees are not part of the standard benefits package for the ARSP and are awarded on a limited, case-by-case basis, and only if funding is available.
  • All applications are reviewed by a local selection panel; final nominations are reviewed in the United States by independent review committees. Final selection of awardees is made by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Application

How to Win Competitive Fellowships: 5 Secrets of Fellowship Winners

There are fellowship opportunities for people at all career levels, in all disciplines. These fellowships provide funding to pursue research or a self-designed project, gain professional experience, pay for graduate school, or work abroad, among many other opportunities.

The bad news is fellowship organizations receive many more qualified applicants than they have spots to fill. This means fellowship selection committees are often choosing fellows based on very subtle differences among candidates.
So, what can you do to give your fellowship application an edge? Here are my top 5 secrets to winning competitive fellowships.

#1 It’s not about your goals, it’s about the fellowship organization’s goals

Many people focus their application on expressing all the things they will personally gain and achieve through the fellowship. This is a mistake.

Fellowships are investments in people – people who will help advance the fellowship organization’s mission and goals. While fellowships provide opportunities for you to enhance your skills and expand your professional network, that’s not the sole purpose of the fellowship, and that should not be the sole focus of your application.

All fellowship organizations have a social impact mission. Investigate what those goals are, and express in your fellowship application why those goals are also important to you and how you can help the organization achieve them. In addition to reading the fellowship organization’s mission statement, review their previously funded fellows and projects and identify the accomplishments they brag about. This is the best way to understand what they hope to achieve through their investment in you, the fellow, which will help you craft a strong personal statement and project proposal.

#2 Speak to at least 3 former fellows

In speaking with thousands of fellowship applicants over the last ten years, I discovered a key difference between fellowship winners and those rejected: fellowship winners spoke to former fellows during the application process. Think about it: who else can tell you what the fellowship committee is really looking for? Who else can tell you what the interview process is like? Who else can connect you with multiple former fellows of that program?

I recommend getting a personal introduction to a fellow through a mutual contact. There are a number of ways to get introductions. First, you can contact the fellowship organization to ask if they have alumni contacts who are willing to speak to applicants. Second, you can use a LinkedIn advanced search to identify people in your network who know former fellows. Third, you can contact your alma mater’s fellowship or career office to ask if they know of alumni who have won the fellowship.

Once you speak to one former fellow, you can politely ask them to introduce you to two more.

#3 Go niche

To win a fellowship, your application must be memorable. One way to do that is to go niche.

For fellowships funding a self-designed project, I recommend crafting a project proposal on a very specific and niche subject. For example, rather than proposing a comparative study of how signatory countries will address the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, propose to study how one country will specifically address emissions reductions in coal plants (and ideally a country with an uncommon approach). A very specific project makes for a tighter proposal. Not to mention, it’s much easier to write a project proposal for a very specific task than a proposal for an idea with a wide scope.

Also, the more unusual, the better! I have never forgotten Jesse Appell’s Fulbright project in China – he studied traditional Chinese standup comedy to seek ways of improving cultural communication through humor. And Tom McFadden won a Fulbright New Zealand award in 2011 to pursue a degree in Science Communication while teaching kids about science through hip-hop.

For fellowships that are professional placements, you should express one highly specific career goal – one that aligns with the fellowship organization’s mission. Expressing one specific career goal instills confidence that you know what you want and are determined to achieve your goal.

Don’t skip the brainstorming process before deciding on the niche project or specific career goal you will propose.

#4 Add urgency

Adding urgency to your application means you propose to participate in something that is only taking place during the fellowship period in the fellowship location. Project timeliness can give you an edge because if a selection committee has to choose between two equally strong candidates, they will likely lean toward the candidate whose research proposal is more urgent.

For example, if you’re proposing a self-designed project, you can study something that is only happening during the fellowship period, such as the immediate impact of a recent election, or how a community is recovering from a recent disaster. This is what I call a “fleeting phenomenon.”

You can also propose to participate in a project-relevant conference, exhibition or other one-time event that’s taking place in the fellowship location during the fellowship period.

You can also draw urgency from your educational timeline. If you are planning to enter graduate school after your fellowship, your fellowship may help you gain knowledge and expertise on a topic that will be the focus of your master’s or doctoral thesis. Be sure to mention this!

Check out this article for more ideas on ways to add urgency.

#5 Practice storytelling

Selection committees typically make their finalist decisions based solely on the written applications they received. This is why strong writers – particularly talented creative writers – have a leg up in the application process.

One of the most useful classes I took as an undergraduate (although I didn’t know it at the time) was a creative writing course. I learned how to express myself more clearly on paper, in a way that touched the emotions of the reader.

Practice in storytelling can help you develop a strong personal statement. A personal statement should begin with a powerful opening statement, express the personal experiences that shaped your worldview and illustrate your passion for your proposed project or career field. Here are some writing exercises to get you started.