Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Instructions for Reference Writers

for Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Programs (ETA)

The Fulbright Program requires the submission of a special REFERENCE FORM and not a general letter of reference. The Fulbright Program will NOT accept reference letters for ETA applicants. To help prepare your responses to the Form’s questions, you may view a Sample ETA Reference Form. This is a sample form; you will still need to log in to the Embark Online Recommendation System and enter your responses to these same questions.

Fulbright applicants register referees in the Online Application System allowing them to complete the form online so that it can be submitted with the student's online application.

The Fulbright Program requires that references be submitted in the Online Application System only. Screening committees review references in the Online Application system. Once you complete the reference form, you may print the PDF form for your records. See Steps below.

If you are not familiar with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, you may wish to visit our website, www.us.fulbrightonline.org. The most useful pages for referees are the sections on Application Components and the Country Summary for the applicant’s proposed host country.

Summary of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program Program

Fulbright ETAs are not responsible for designing curricula or teaching full courses. Rather they serve, under supervision, at their assigned placements and will be expected to develop and carry out a variety of learning activities, make presentations on U.S. culture and society, and/or assist faculty in an English Language Department with their teaching responsibilities, as needed.

In responding to the questions on the ETA Reference Form, please keep in mind that the candidate will be serving as a citizen representing the United States and that personal suitability, as well as academic excellence, is an important criterion to be considered.

Facility with and knowledge of English usage, grammar, spelling, and writing is also important. You may be able to comment on the applicant’s abilities in those areas from tests or papers they have prepared for your course or from formal presentations, classroom discussion or individual interviews with the applicant.

In addition, some countries request that applicants describe an academic or other project or activity that they would pursue concurrent with the ETA assignment. This is a secondary component of the grant and may provide insight into the applicant's interest in the host country, academic or career interests, and/or suitability for the ETA program.

Factors for Consideration

In formulating responses to the questions on the ETA Reference Form, consider the following general characteristics of Fulbright U.S. Student ETA Programs. Generally, teaching assistants:

  • Are placed in elementary or secondary schools or universities outside of capital cities, depending on the country. Please consult the individual country entry at Country Summary for a description of the program in this applicant's chosen country.
  • Are assigned various activities designed to improve host country students' abilities in spoken and written English and knowledge of the United States. As such, both clear and precise diction and demonstrated grammar skills should be a factor in evaluation.
  • Are fully integrated into the host community, increasing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country.
  • May pursue individual study/research or engage in community activities, in addition to ETA responsibilities.
  • Have some background or training in education and/or teaching/tutoring.

Steps to submit the ETA Reference Form online:

  1. Once the applicant has registered you as a referee, an email will be generated and sent to you from the Embark Online Recommendation system; the student’s name will be in the subject line. If you do not receive this email, please let the applicant know or email Tech Support directly, support@embark.com, and tell them the name and email address of the applicant and your name and email address.
  2. Login to the reference system using the User ID and Password sent to you in the email.
  3. You will see a page with the names of applicants who have listed you as a reference with the Fulbright Embark Online Application System.
  4. Following the steps in the online system, enter your responses directly into the Reference Form.
  5. When you are satisfied with your responses, the final step is to Submit the reference. Before you click Submit, be sure that this is the information that you wish to have reviewed by screening committees in the U.S. and abroad. Once you submit the reference, you will not have access to edit or change it.

Only references submitted via the Online Application System will be accepted.

The applicant will provide you with the date the reference is due. Each institution sets its own internal campus deadline. For currently enrolled candidates or alumni applying through their alma mater, this date may be earlier than the national Fulbright Application Deadline. References submitted after the campus deadline may not be considered and could affect the candidate’s eligibility.

The national Fulbright Application Deadline is October 15, 2013. All references must be submitted in the Embark Online Reference system by 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on this date.

I am a....

Current U.S. Student

United States citizens who are currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs are eligible to apply.  All applicants enrolled in U.S institutions must apply through their home campuses.  Find the Fulbright Program Adviser on your campus.

If you are an undergraduate student you would be eligible to apply in your senior year.  If you are a graduate student you are eligible to apply to most countries as long as you will not have a PhD degree on the application deadline.

Non-U.S. Student

If you are a non-U.S. citizen looking to applying for a Fulbright grant to study in the United States you will apply to the Fulbright Program for Foreign Students in your home country.

U.S. Citizen but not a Student

If you are a U.S. citizen, hold a bachelor’s degree, and do not have a PhD degree then you could be eligible for certain awards within the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.  Please review the program summary for the country where you would like to apply.


The Fulbright U.S. Student Program welcomes applications in the creative and performing arts.  Arts candidates for the U.S. Student Program should have relatively limited professional experience in the fields (typically 5 years or less) in which they are applying.  Artists with more experience should consider applying for Fulbright Scholar Program.



U.S. Professor

If you are a U.S. citizen and a professor at a U.S. institution and are interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award you will need to apply through CIES.

Non U.S. Professor

If you are a non-U.S. citizen and a professor interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award to the United States you would need to apply through the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in your home country.  Find out more information on the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.