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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Fulbright Program

What is the Fulbright Program?

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program provides participants - chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential - with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

What kind of grants are available through the Fulbright Program in Switzerland?

Switzerland participates in the Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.

What is the difference between a Fulbright "student" and Fulbright "scholar"?

Fulbright "students" are participants in the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, which enables graduate students, early career professionals and artists to study, teach, or conduct research. A bachelor's degree (or equivalent) is generally required by the start of the Fulbright grant period. Some exceptions may apply, especially for artists.

Fulbright "scholars" are participants in the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program, which enables university faculty members with a Ph.D. (or equivalent terminal degree) to teach and/or conduct research. The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program is also open to artists and professionals.

How would you describe a typical "Fulbrighter"?

There is no one single profile of a typical Fulbrighter. In order for the Fulbright Program to be successful in its goal to promote mutual understanding, Fulbrighters must represent the richness and diversity of Switzerland. All Fulbrighters share a strong academic background, leadership potential, a passion for increasing mutual understanding among nations and cultures, and the adaptability and flexibility to pursue their proposed Fulbright project successfully.

What is it like being a Fulbrighter?

Each Fulbrighter's experience is unique and depends on a variety of factors, including project details, location, and language abilities. Despite the variety of experiences, Fulbrighters all describe their experiences as life changing and having a profound influence on their professional and personal endeavors.

You may read stories from individual Fulbright alumni to learn more about what it is like to be a Fulbrighter.

What is expected from Fulbrighters?

In addition to carrying out their proposed projects, Fulbrighters are expected to involve themselves in the host community, sharing their culture while at the same time observing the host culture. After their grant periods, Fulbrighters are encouraged to bring what they have learned through this cultural exchange home and teach others about the cultures they have experienced. Fulbrighters are also encouraged to continue the Fulbright experience by reaching out to their home communities, participating in Fulbright alumni activities and networking with other Fulbrighters.

Must I return to Switzerland at the completion of my Fulbright program?

Fulbright grantees travel on a J-1 visa sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. You and your J2 dependents are subject to Code of Federal Regulations rule 212(e), the two-year home country residence requirement associated with the J visa. This is intended to ensure that Fulbright grantees fulfil the exchange nature of the program. During the two-year home country residence requirement, you and your dependents are ineligible to apply for status in the United States as:

  • Permanent residents,
  • Temporary workers or trainees (visa status H),
  • Fiancé(e)s (visa status K), or
  • Intracompany transferees (visa status L).

The two years commences from the date of return to Switzerland.

Application Requirements

Which Fulbright grant am I eligible for?

Please refer to the Grants for the USA page (student or scholar grants) for information about eligibility. All applicants must be Swiss citizen who does not hold dual citizenship with the United States, can travel on a Swiss passport and be eligible for a J1 visa.

Are those with dual Swiss/US citizenship eligible for a grant?

No. Unfortunately, dual Swiss-U.S. citizens are ineligible. Swiss citizens with dual citizenship with any other country are eligible.

I hold a Green Card. Am I eligible to apply for a Fulbright grant?

No. The Fulbright program is, at its heart, an exchange program. As such, those who already have the opportunity to experience living and studying in the U.S. by other means are not eligible.

If I’m not a Swiss citizen but I am a permanent resident, am I eligible for a grant?

No. Candidates applying through the Fulbright program in Switzerland must be Swiss citizens by birth or naturalization. Other nationals may be able to apply for a Fulbright grant from their home country. See the U.S. Department of State’s home page for further information.

I am a Swiss citizen living in the United States. Am I eligible for a Fulbright grant to start or continue study in the U.S.?

No, you are not eligible for a Fulbright grant to study in the United States as a Swiss citizen already in the U.S. The Fulbright Program funds U.S. citizens for study and research abroad and non-U.S. citizens who are not already in the U.S. for study and research in the United States.

I am a Swiss citizen but I’m currently studying abroad, am I eligible for a Fulbright grant?

Yes. However, it is a requirement of Fulbright grants that applicants not be resident in the U.S. at the time of application and that they be available for an interview which takes place at the U.S. Embassy in Bern in September. Furthermore, all selected Fulbright candidates must be available to attend the Fulbright Orientation held annually in October and the Pre-departure Orientation meeting taking place in May/June.

I have already started my program of study in the US. Can I apply for a Fulbright grant?

No. Applicants who have already commenced studies/research in the U.S. are ineligible for a scholarship.

Is there an age limit for applicants?

The Fulbright Program does not have age limits for participants.

Can I do undergraduate study on a Fulbright grant?

No. The Fulbright program in Switzerland only offers grants for postgraduate study, scholarly research and lecturing.

Must I have an undergraduate degree to be eligible for a Fulbright scholarship?

Yes – or a tertiary equivalent qualification. Undergraduate students are also permitted to apply if they have not obtained their undergraduate degree by the application deadline. Please refer to the eligibility criteria under Fulbright Student Grants.

I have submitted my PhD thesis and it has been accepted but not yet conferred, am I eligible for the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program?

Yes, however at the time of application applicants are required to provide an additional letter from their supervisor and/or Head of School notifying that the applicant is on track to complete the PhD thesis prior to their intended departure to the U.S. Should the application be successful, the awardee must supply the Scholarship Service of swissuniversities with evidence that the PhD has been conferred prior to departure.

May I study medicine on a Fulbright grant?

Yes, but only in the fields of public health and global health. The Fulbright Program will not fund applicants seeking to enroll in a medical degree program nor does it offer grants to those who wish to conduct clinical medical research or training involving patient care and/or contact.

For non-U.S. citizens who wish to study clinical medicine in the United States, the U.S. Department of State has designated the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) as the sole agency authorized to sponsor alien physicians for internship, residency and specialized clinical training in the United States. Fulbright grantees cannot simultaneously be sponsored by ECFMG; therefore, proposals for medical research involving clinical training, patient care or patient contact cannot be approved under the Fulbright Program.

Can I apply in a field other than the one in which I have my undergraduate degree?

Yes. You can apply in a field other than the one in which you have your undergraduate degree, but you should justify it in your personal statement and study objectives in the application.

I would like to complete a two-year Master's program. Do I also receive a Fulbright grant for the second year of my studies?

No. The Fulbright grant is awarded for a maximum of one academic year and is not renewable.

Application Process

When should I apply for a Fulbright grant?

The application period opens in early spring and closes at the beginning of August. You can only apply during these time periods. Please note that even though you may still be able to access the application system, submitted applications cannot be reviewed until after the closing date.

During the application period March – August 2020, applicants can apply to undertake an award for the academic year 2021-2022. Successful applicants would complete their Fulbright grant between the months August 2021 - July 2022. It is important to think about your application well in advance of the application period.

Is the application deadline ever extended?

No. The deadline is a firm deadline. We encourage all applicants to submit their applications early so they can be checked for completeness in advance. If your application is missing information and it is after the deadline it will be disqualified.

How do I apply for a Fulbright grant?

The application system is managed globally and is online. It is known as the Slate System. All applicants must apply through this system. Please refer to the application instructions, available on our webpage Grants for the USA; the link to apply is on our webpage and within the application instructions PDF document. These instructions are designed as a step by step guide to assist you through the application process.

Can I submit my Fulbright Application by email or fax?

No. You must use the online application system Slate.

Do I already need to have a secured placement at a U.S. university?

No. The Fulbright Program does not expect that you have received a letter of affiliation or admission to a university. However, you should take the initiative to research which U.S. university would be the best match for your particular field of study, area of research, and academic goals. There are many very high quality universities throughout the U.S. that specialize in certain academic fields so that, while the university itself may not be well known internationally, the professors who teach there are nevertheless at the top of their field.

Is it a requirement to take the TOEFL, GRE or GMAT test when applying for a Fulbright grant?

No. Standardized test scores are not required by the application deadline. However, test scores are required for Fulbright finalists after their selection by the Selection Committee in September. We recommend taking exams no later than September in order for score reports to be received by IIE’s October 1st application deadline. Early testing is important for several reasons. Candidates often need to take exams more than once in order to become familiar with the exam and get an optimal score. Furthermore, having test scores available at the time the applications of the selected candidates are submitted to IIE assists IIE’s University Placement Services Division with selecting appropriate universities for the candidates.

Please note, it is very important to receive a high score on the TOEFL, GRE or GMAT (for business school candidates) if you hope to be placed in a good program in the U.S.

Can you meet with me in advance to review my application?

No. The Scholarship Service of swissuniversities is very small and we encourage all applicants to review our website first for answers to their questions. If you have an outstanding query we are happy to respond to your email or answer your call but we are not equipped to meet with applicants during the application period.

How are the Fulbright applicants selected?

The Fulbright Program’s application process is lengthy, and prospective applicants are encouraged to consider carefully their intentions, goals, future plans and prospective projects before applying for a Fulbright grant. Participants will be selected based upon their academic excellence, leadership potential, community involvement, maturity, ability to adjust successfully to life in the U.S., strong interest in engaging Americans, and potential to promote mutual understanding between the United States and Switzerland. Applications are reviewed by a Selection Committee from the U.S. Embassy and experts from different fields and the applications of the finalists are submitted to the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York.

Do I have to attend an interview?

Yes. All candidates who are applying for a Fulbright grant must be available for an interview in person.

I met all the basic requirements of the Fulbright application process and I was not selected as a finalist. Please explain.

The Fulbright programs are competitive, world-class opportunities for education and international understanding. While many applicants may meet the basic requirements, only the most qualified students and researchers may get the opportunity to participate in the program. Applicants are rank ordered based on the merit of the whole application package (academic excellence, community involvement, etc.), and the top candidates are selected.

Are applicants who are unsuccessful in their application for a Fulbright grant precluded from applying in the future?

No. Previously unsuccessful applicants are not precluded from applying, indeed they are encouraged to re-apply the following year.

If I was awarded a Fulbright grant and had to defer my admission to a U.S. university to the next academic year due to unexpected reasons. Can I still benefit from the Fulbright grant?

No. The FFSB policies prohibit Fulbright grants from being postponed to another academic year, so a grantee would have to reapply for a grant for the subsequent academic year.

Online Application

What makes a competitive application?

There is no "formula" for a successful application. Each individual’s application should be about the candidate, how the program time will be spent, and what outcomes can be reasonably expected. What is successful for one applicant may not be effective for another applicant.

The below webinar from Fulbright Australia provides some advice on what selection committees look for in general.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=84&v=r_yIxiVs1tw

What is required in terms of a transcript?

A transcript is a full list of courses and final grades that comes as an official document from a school. All post-secondary school transcripts (undergraduate, masters, and PhD, if applicable) will be required when applying for a Fulbright student grant. This should be requested from institutions early on in the application process, as it can take a number of weeks to be processed.

What should I write about in my Study/Research Objective Essay?

You should write a clear and detailed description of the academic program you want to pursue. You should clearly identify the area(s) within your field of study in which you want to specialize in or concentrate. If there is a specific research project you wish to undertake, you should describe how you intend to meet your goals. You should outline why you need to go to the particular country and institution and how this will enhance your knowledge, skills, and understanding in the discipline.

Candidates applying for non-degree admission or for a visiting researcher affiliation (mentored pre-doctoral research-only program) should be especially clear about their study/research objectives and what they hope to accomplish in the United States, as non-degree admission policies or visiting researcher affiliation vary considerably from university to university and often from one department to another within the same institution. Access to course work, faculty time, and university facilities may be defined differently in individual cases and priority may be given to degree candidates.

What should I write about in my Personal Statement?

Your personal statement is a narrative statement that tells us about you. It should not repeat your Study/Research Objective Essay. It should tell the Fulbright Selection Committee what makes you unique, your special interests, why you are applying for a Fulbright grant, why we should give you a grant, your aspirations, and your expectations of the grant.

Should my recommendations be academic or from an employer?

You must have three letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf. Recommendations should be prepared by a professor with whom you have studied or researched in your proposed field of study that can confirm your academic and personal qualities. Alternatively, a recommender may be someone that has supervised you in work related to your proposed field of study. Recommendation forms should not be prepared by persons related to you or by personal friends. At least one academic and one professional or work-related letter should be included among your three recommendations. All three recommendation forms must be submitted by your recommenders through the online application system ahead of the application deadline.

What is a letter of affiliation?

A letter of affiliation is required for applicants who are seeking a visiting research position. They are not required for full-time student applicants. The letter should come from someone with authority in the school or department and should state that they are happy to host you, your project, and have space for you to work there.

I have completed two separate Bachelor Degrees at my home university and the webpage only allows to enter one degree per University. How should I proceed?

You can list your home university twice so that you can enter both degree programs.

What can I do if I experience technical problems with my online application?

Please write to fulbright@clutterswissuniversities.ch and explain your difficulties as detailed as possible.