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Affiliation FAQs

What’s the purpose of an affiliation?

You need to show—at the time of application—that you have the means to carry out the project you are proposing. You do this in part by showing that you have already made arrangements to receive the support and any resources that are essential to your project from an affiliation. For example, an affiliation might give you access to a library in which you plan to conduct research, to classes that could complement your research project, to experts in your field of study with whom you could consult, or to a particular population in your host country to which you might not otherwise have access.

What types of institutions qualify as affiliations?

Consult your country summary. In general, any institution in your host country that is locally-run (not a U.S. or otherwise foreign institution) can qualify. Some countries require that your affiliation be an institution of higher education. Any unique requirements or restrictions will be stated in the country summary. A faculty member at a university is the most common affiliation among past Fordham recipients.

What is required of the affiliation?

There is no set requirement or obligation for affiliations. Rather, each Fulbrighter will work out a mutually convenient and beneficial arrangement with his or her affiliation in terms of meeting schedule, resources, etc. Affiliations might need to be reassured that they will not have to support you financially or offer you housing. They also do not need to commit to an intensive mentoring relationship.

How should I go about finding an affiliation?

Use your network. Start with any personal contacts you yourself have made through your travels or studies. Branch out to your professors who may have professional contacts in your host country.

Read newspapers and conduct literature searches. Find out what international scholars are writing in your field of interest and where they teach. Find out some of the institutions in your host country that might be key players in the issues your topic will engage. Let your choice of affiliation come out of your area of interest.

Even if you have no lead within an institution, you can use their website to learn about the people there (sometimes you can find bios or even full CV’s) and get contact information.

Use the Fulbright network. The Fulbright Scholar Directory lists every academic who ever travelled on a Fulbright grant, including American scholars who have held grants to other countries and Foreign scholars who have conducted research in the United States. Search for those who have experience in your country of application, and in your field of interest.

Once I find a contact, what should I say?

The goal when you first establish contact is to ask questions that will help you ascertain whether that organization is the right "fit" for you and your project, in terms of its mission and focus.

Gauge whether they would have any interest in you and your project. Will they see you as a potential collaborator whose presence with them for 9-10 months will be an asset to them? Or do you get the sense you will be a nuisance to them? (Obviously, how they perceive you may depend in large part on how you approach them.)

If things are going well, consider asking them for their input on your project. See whether they think it is viable, feasible, and important for your field or that country. Ask if they have suggestions for directions your project could go.

Eventually, you will need to know how, specifically, the organization will be able to support you in your project goals. What resources will they be willing to provide you while you’re there? (This may include advising, use of material resources, access to their professional network, etc.)

Can I have more than one affiliation?

Yes, but do not assume that more is better. Whether you should have more than one depends entirely on what you are trying to do, and what support you need. Some projects involve multiple components and/or phases that involve different types of research activities. In those cases, a second or even third affiliation might make good sense. On the other hand, you don’t want your proposal to appear too scattered.

What is required in an affiliation letter?

The bare minimum is a letter on institutional letterhead, signed by an individual at the institution, stating that they are willing to serve as your affiliation should you win the Fulbright grant.

What makes a strong affiliation letter?

The best letters will go beyond the very basic to double as letters of endorsement for your project. Fulbright reviewers want to be convinced that you found the right affiliation and that you do, in fact, have their full support. Strong letters will include:

  • brief description of the institution and its mission (especially if it is not a university affiliation)
  • confirmation that the institution is locally-run
  • affirmation that the individual (professor, director, etc.) representing the institution welcomes you and will grant you access to the resources you will need (often a description of these resources is helpful, too)
  • (ideally) some discussion of the value and worth of your course of study or research project

At what point should I obtain the letter?

The letter is due with everything else in the online application by the campus deadline. Give your affiliation a deadline of August 1 to get the letter to you. This may sound absurdly early, but a lot can go wrong with the process of actually getting the letter in hand.

As with the recommendation letters, don’t make the mistake of asking for the letter too early, before your affiliate understands what your project is. Let the letter be the official confirmation of the arrangement you’ve already come to in your communications with the affiliate.

How do I submit the affiliation letter?

You will upload the letter as a PDF file into your online app. Your affiliation can either email you the PDF for you to upload directly, or mail it to you, in which case you would have to scan it and then upload the file.

Letters must be signed and on institutional letterhead. Be sure to check for this before uploading.