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ColumnsDestination USA: Fulbright-Nehru, other fellowships to study

Destination USA: Fulbright-Nehru, other fellowships to study

Published: 5th Dec 2021 12:06 am

In the last column in our special topics series on US higher education, we talked about postdoctoral fellowships. The article mentioned the option to apply for Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Fellowships to pursue a postdoc in the United States. We received a few queries from our readers regarding options for Fulbright scholarships to study in the United States, so in today’s column, we will talk about the Fulbright-Nehru programmes for students.

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The Fulbright programme was established in 1946 with the goal to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through the creation of a large academic and cultural network around the world. The programme operates in 160 countries and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Fulbright-Nehru and other Fulbright awards, supported by the US and Indian governments, enable the most outstanding students, academics, and professionals in India and the United States to study, research and teach in the host country. Grantees of the programme are selected through a rigorous application and interview process for these awards. These fellowships provide J-1 visa support, a monthly stipend, Accident and Sickness Programme for Exchanges per US government guidelines, economy class air travel, applicable allowances and modest affiliation fees if any.

There are different types of Fulbright awards for students. There is the Fulbright-Nehru student award called the Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowship, which is available to pursue a Master’s degree at select US colleges and universities but only in a few designated areas of study. Also, these fellowships are for highly motivated individuals who demonstrate leadership qualities, have at least three years of professional work experience and are committed to returning and contributing to their communities. Applicants must either possess a four-year Bachelor’s degree, a completed Master’s degree, or a full-time postgraduate diploma from a recognised Indian institution if the Bachelor’s degree is of less than four years’ duration.

Readers may find further details about the eligibility criteria and the application process about this programme at:

In addition to the Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowship, students who are currently registered for a PhD programme at an Indian institution are eligible to apply for the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships. These fellowships are of six to nine months duration. The Doctoral research fellowships are available in a few designated areas of study. The Doctoral research grant is intended for PhD students to conduct research essential to their dissertations/theses at an American institution and the students receive their PhD degree from the Indian institution where they are registered for their PhD.

Further details about the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship are available at: The next cycle of Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships will open in the first quarter of 2022.

For further information, readers may visit

— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad. For more information, please visit:


Q. What is the importance of the personal statement in the application process for US universities?
— Pragnya
A. The personal statement gives universities a chance to get a personal glimpse of the student, an insight that is not possible in the grades and numbers that make up the rest of the application package. Application essays also allow admissions officers to assess student’s writing skills, academic ability, organisational skills, purpose in applying to a US institution, and reasons to choose their chosen field of study. Admissions officers look for strong writing skills, as well as a demonstration of intellectual curiosity and maturity.

Students should make sure that their essay is a true representation of themselves and their abilities. The most important part of the essay is to be genuine and honest — admissions officers read several hundred essays each year and have become experts in picking out fake essays or those written by parents. The essay is your opportunity to tell the college/university why they should accept you over other students — use it as such.

Q. What is the procedure to transfer from one US university to another?
— Ashish
A. Students should plan their transfer at least 12 months before the date they wish to start studying at the new institution. The application process for transfer students differs slightly from that of first-year applicants wherein they fill out a separate application form. The new institution where a student is transferring may request a student to share why they want to transfer to this institution through a personal statement. They may also ask what courses of study the student has taken at their current institution and their college experience so far.

Transfer applicants are expected to have performed well at their current institution and to have proven themselves in higher education. In addition to the above, you may also need to provide the same items as new applicants to the college, including recommendations, transcripts, admissions test scores, and resume. Please read carefully the information on the institution’s policy on the transfer of credits. Transferring is not an easy way into the more selective universities. It is generally advisable to avoid the transfer process and choose the right university for yourself in the first step.

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