Fulbright U.S. Student Program Guidance for Military-Connected Applicants
Applicants with military service obligations in any branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) are eligible to participate in the Fulbright Program pending command approval.
- Personnel with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree by the award start dates may apply. Officers and Enlisted personnel are considered equally, as are service members from the different components (Regular, Reserves, and National Guard).
- Cadets and Midshipmen enrolled in military academies or university Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs may apply to participate in the program as their first assignments immediately following commissioning. Basic Officer Training is usually delayed one year group. An additional service obligation may be added to the participant’s contract.
- Mid-career Service Members may apply to participate in the fellowship opportunity as a broadening assignment. An additional service obligation may be added to the participant’s contract.
- Note that military Service Members, Cadets, and Midshipmen are different from “Veterans” as defined by Congress. A “Veteran” is one who has honorably separated from service and does not have an outstanding service obligation as an active duty Service Member or drilling Reservist or Guardsman.
- Per Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board policy, Veterans are given preference in selection. The following information helps those current and future Service Members navigate the command approval process alongside the Fulbright application timeline. Veterans are past Service Members.
When considering award opportunities, in addition to completing all Fulbright requirements, military-connected applicants should undertake the following prior to applying:
- Consult your service branch regulations and policy memoranda on fellowships to understand approval authorities and any additional service obligations incurred with Fulbright participation.
- Mid-Career Service Members can apply through their alma mater, regardless of the amount of time that has elapsed since graduation, assuming the Fulbright Program Adviser at that institution is able to support alumni applicants.
- Notify your chain of command (Commandant, ROTC Professor of Military Science, or Senior Rater) of your intent to participate in writing and ensure they route the notification to the J-1 at your branch’s Human Resource Command. If currently serving, courtesy copy your military occupational specialty (MOS) branch manager.
- Research U.S. military presence and security concerns in your selected country using U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense resources. Consider adjusting your country choice if travel advisory levels and force protection levels are elevated for that country.
- Indicate your military affiliation in the “Biographical Information” section of the “Personal Information” page of the application.
- Upon submission of your Fulbright application, route an official memorandum and a copy of the application through your chain of command to the J-1 your branch’s Human Resources Command.
As soon as you are notified you have been recommended as a semi-finalist:
- Update your chain of command on your progress in writing.
- Send an introduction to the country’s Defense Attaché, the Senior Defense Official at the U.S. Embassy. Explain your military affiliation and potential grant details to include timeline. Inquire about the Embassy’s ability to accept a military-connected Fulbrighter and about any coordinating requirements such as specific housing, certain type of passport, or a National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 38 clearance.
- If a drilling Reservist and Guardsmen, communicate with your chain of command about the possibility of pooling drill time pre/post grant. It may also be possible to drill with a comparable U.S. military unit of the same branch in region or in country during your grant tenure.
As soon as you are notified of your finalist status (award offered):
- Upon notification, submit a memorandum through your chain of command to the J-1 at your branch’s Human Resource Command in order to “apply to accept” the grant. Attach a copy of your grant authorization. You must receive J-1 and MOS branch approval to participate in writing.
- For Cadets and Midshipmen, graduate and commission. There may be an option to delay commission until return from Fulbright grant due to a country’s security concerns. Some branches may allow their Service Members to participate in Fulbright while in Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) status, meaning one does not accurately accrue time in service toward the base contract.
- Submit an Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance Systems (APACS) request to the country’s Defense Attaché to officially request permission to enter the country. Do not proceed until permission is granted through the system.
- Send a follow up email to the country’s Defense Attaché after you have submitted the APACS request for a personal touch. If a NSDD-38 clearance is required, submit the application and track its approval process.
- If approved for participation, permanent change of station (PCS) will cancel and replace your current orders. Sign your additional service agreement.
- If entering the military, in-process in full with your owning unit prior to departure to activate salary and benefits. You must have a Common Access Card (CAC).
- As per section 444.2 of Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board policy, “Adjustments to the Fulbright grant package may be made if benefits received from other sources duplicate benefits provided by the Fulbright grant.
- Ensure all grant-related documentation, orders, and service agreements, as applicable, have been successfully uploaded to your digital military file by human resource personnel.
This checklist is designed to be service branch neutral, component neutral, rank neutral, commissioning source neutral, and MOS neutral.
For general inquiries, please contact: Fulbright Alumni Ambassador Captain Sara Sajer at firstname.lastname@example.org
For specific inquiries, please contact your service branch’s Advanced Education, Broadening Program, or Fellowships offices.