Fubright Grant Information Guide

Academic Letters of Reference


You are asked to submit three academic letters of reference for the Fulbright Scholarship.  The Fulbright is primarily an academic scholarship, so the selection committee is looking for honest appraisals of your academic abilities.  You should keep the following points in mind when selecting recommenders:

  • References should be from faculty members with whom you have worked, had a class, or conducted a research project. At least two of the letters should be from professors in your major or field who are familiar with your abilities and proposed project.  With no disrespect intended, references should not be from Teaching Assistants.  If this cannot be avoided, you may want to have your TA and your professor write a letter together.
  • Choose people who know you well--academically, extracurricularly, and personally.  A letter of recommendation is most useful when it includes specific comments on the strength of your Fulbright application.  Recommenders should be able to comment on your ability to carry out the proposed course of study and the suitability of the country or institution chosen.
  • Choose people who know you well enough to write as extensive a recommendation as possible.
  • Identify your recommenders and contact them as early in the process as possible.  Brief them on the overall timeline, expectations, and opportunities with regard to the  Fulbright Scholarship.  If your recommenders are familiar with your plans and the application process, they will be more helpful to you when providing feedback and constructive, criticism.
  • Give them as much information about yourself as possible.  The following is a list of helpful items to give to your selected recommenders:
    • Draft essay(s) and application.
    • Copy of transcript.
    • Background information on the scholarship.
  • ETA applicants can submit a reference from someone who has supervised their teaching or tutoring.
  • You may only submit three references.
  • Be sure to clarify whether you might call on them again for letters to other scholarship competitions.  Make sure that your recommenders understand that no copies of their letters will be kept or returned to them. If you plan to use the same recommender for other scholarships, you should ask, in advance, that they maintain a copy on computer disk for future reference. 
  • Be sure to indicate whether or not you are waiving your right of access to the completed reference.
  • Keep recommenders up to date with the progress of your application.


If you have any questions about how to select your recommenders, please see Denise Connerty.  Please note: Staff at the Education Abroad cannot provide any information as to the relative strengths of confidential references.