The Fulbright Ph.D. Program Cycle 2014-2015 is now closed.
To find out about the program currently under review, please read below. This will help prepare you to apply next year. Information about next year’s program (2015-2016) will be updated soon.
The U.S. Embassy is pleased to announce the 2014-2015 Fulbright Doctoral (Ph.D.) Fellowship Program for citizens of Afghanistan to pursue a fully-funded doctoral (Ph.D.) degree in the United States. All grantees receive tuition, monthly stipend, supplemental health and accident benefits, book and supplies allowance, travel support and the opportunity to attend special Fulbright program activities, such as conferences and meetings with high ranking government officials. Selected candidates may be required to travel to the U.S. as early as January 2014 for pre-academic English and writing seminars, or as late as the start of the academic year in late summer 2014. The U.S. Government invests over $100,000 per program participant and is committed to a clear and transparent selection process to identify the country’s most promising candidates. Please read the below guidance thoroughly. Before you apply, consider whether you can commit to full participation in every aspect of the program.
Deadline: May 1st, 2013 at 11:59 pm Kabul time. The application is online only at - https://apply.embark.com/student/fulbright/international/20/ . Late applications will not be accepted. Fellowships will be awarded for academic programs beginning in the United States in August/September 2014. However, some applicants may be required to attend pre-academic programs beginning as early as January 2014. Placement in pre-academic programs is determined by the Embassy in coordination with the Institute for International Education (IIE). Those selected for a pre-academic program must participate in order to continue to the Fulbright program.
The newly inaugurated Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship will place qualified Afghans in United States’ universities to pursue a five year Ph.D. in selected fields of study during the 2014-15 academic year, build leadership skills and enhance mutual cultural understanding with Americans.
Fellows receive a tuition scholarship for their coursework and a monthly stipend to cover living expenses at their host institution. Fellows also receive roundtrip transportation and health benefits. In addition, Fellows may also attend special enrichment activities throughout their program. These activities are excellent opportunities to network with Fulbrighters from other countries and to interact with prominent Americans across a range of professional fields.
- Applicants must be citizens of Afghanistan and currently reside/live in Afghanistan;
- Students must have a Master’s degree and a strong academic background as demonstrated by their post-secondary transcripts;
- Applicants must present three letters of recommendation from their professors and/or employers (usually two from professors and one from an employer);
- Eligible fields of study: Agriculture, Communications, Economics, Education, Engineering, Math, Science or Technology;
- Professional writing sample required (10-15 pages, in anticipated field of study). This can be part of your Master’s thesis or other paper;
- Applicants should pass an Institutional TOEFL exam (PBT) in June 2013 with a score of at least 550 points – this score corresponds to an advanced level of proficiency in general English; knowledge of specialized English in your particular field is not sufficient (note: this is the minimum score recommended to continue in the application process. To be competitive in university placement, applicants often score above 600 in the paper based TOEFL test in August 2013). Also, applicants should work towards minimum GRE test scores of 150 in Verbal, 150 in Quantitative (Math), and four (4) on the Analytical Writing portion in order to be competitive. (The necessary scores to be competitive vary by field and institution but this is a starting point);
- Applicants should have limited or no prior experience in the United States;
- Applicants should demonstrate leadership qualities -- including volunteer experience and involvement in their communities;
- Applicants should have at least two years of professional work experience in a related field;
- Applicants should submit application essays with clear goals, well-reasoned statements describing why a specific academic track is the best fit, and tying their academic plans to longer term professional goals;
- Applicants must be committed to returning to Afghanistan and be able to articulate a specific plan for using their Fulbright experience in their professional lives and in service to their country.
The Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship Program in Afghanistan is provided for the recipient only; dependents cannot be supported and Maharam are not allowed. Dependents and family members of Afghan Fellows are not permitted to accompany them to the United States. There are no exceptions.
How to Apply
Before you apply, please read the Guide on How to Apply for Fulbright Scholarships.
Step 1: Are you eligible? Read the instructions carefully. Before you apply, be sure that you qualify.
The Fulbright Ph.D. Fellowship is open to Afghan citizens living in Afghanistan, who:
- Hold a minimum of a Master’s degree;
- Want to pursue graduate study at the doctoral (Ph.D.) degree level;
- Are proficient in English (as verified by your TOEFL and GRE scores);
- Are able to function easily in academic and social settings;
- Have a demonstrated involvement in the community and/or volunteer work;
- Generally have at least two years of work experience in a related field; and
- Have a commitment to return to Afghanistan and use their experience to strengthen their society.
Step 2: Apply online. To apply be sure to select the 2014-2015 Fulbright Doctoral (Ph.D.) Fellowship cycle. You must submit your application online by 11:59 pm (23:59) Kabul time on May 1, 2013 at: https://apply.embark.com/student/fulbright/international/20/
Unfortunately, the Embark system currently allows students to select and apply under last year’s cycle. Applicants submitted to the incorrect cycle will not be received and cannot be considered. Be sure to select the 2014-2015 program to be considered!
The application will ask you to provide such information as:
- Proposed field of study
- Future plans
- Educational background
- Work experience
- Language skills
- Study/research objectives
- Personal history
- Academic transcripts
- Three letters of recommendation from your supervisors or former professors (usually two from professors and one from an employer).
Please review the advice on writing a Statement of Purpose in the link “Focus on Your Essays.” Plagiarism – the unfair use of the words and ideas of others – will not be tolerated and can lead to disqualification from the Fulbright program.
Step 3: The U.S. Embassy reviews the applications and contacts the applicants who have been selected to continue in the process. They will be informed that they are registered for a free English test called the institutional TOEFL (iTOEFL). We expect the iTOEFL to be offered in late May and early June.
Step 4: After we receive the institutional TOEFL scores, the U.S. Embassy will contact the most competitive applicants for a personal interview, beginning at the end of June.
Step 5: We will make the final decisions on the selected nominees and notify all applicants of the decisions by the end of July.
Step 6: The President’s special committee for Fulbright will review the applications of the selected nominees. Successful applicants will be paired with a US institution pending the applicants’ final competitive scores on the TOEFL and GRE tests. Generally, applicants should work towards minimum GRE test scores of 150 in Verbal, 150 in Quantitative (Math), and four (4) on the Analytical Writing portion in order to be competitive. The necessary scores to be competitive vary by field and institution but this is a starting point... So start studying now!
*Please note that the visa process is completely separate from the application process. Once program participants have been placed by Washington and IIE, participants can schedule their interviews. Upon successful interviews and processing, when the participant receives their visa, travel arrangements can be made.
Applied for Fulbright before?
We encourage applicants who have applied previously to submit new and revised applications. Fulbright becomes more competitive each year as the number of applicants increases and you are encouraged to revise your essays and update your information.
You must create a NEW account in Embark. Applications submitted for previous years cannot be considered due to a technical problem with the Embark system. Please create a new account by using new email address and enter in your information under the 2014-2015 cycle. If you do not choose the 2014-2015 application, your application will not be considered. Be careful! Choose 2014-2015!
Selection for the Fulbright program is highly competitive. The selection process is:
1) Technical Review – all applications are screened by Embassy staff for technical eligibility, such as Afghan citizenship.
2) Panel Review – each application is reviewed by four American Embassy staff who complete a score sheet providing an overall rank from 1 (not recommended) to 5 (strongly recommended). During the panel review, applications are scored based on clarity of study objectives, future plans, academic background, well-roundedness (work and volunteer experience, hobbies, etc.), English skills, quality of essays, letters of recommendation, likelihood to benefit from an exchange program to the U.S., and whether or not plagiarism is suspected. The combined score (4 through 20) is calculated and candidates are ranked accordingly.
3) Plagiarism Review – all applications suspected of plagiarism are reviewed again and any questionable text is screened to determine if the information is copied. Plagiarized applications are rejected at this time.
4) Test of English Language – Pending confirmation of total program funding, the top 400 (approximately) applicants pass the Panel Review and are invited to sit for the institutional paper-based Test of English as a Second Language (iTOEFL). The exam is offered at no charge in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Nangarhar. Applicants must be present on the date/time of their scheduled exam (likely to occur in late May to early June). Applicants with a valid regular TOEFL score taken within the last three years can submit a copy of their scorecard in place of sitting for the iTOEFL. It is recommended that you sit for the iTOEFL unless your score on the regular TOEFL is over 610. Applicants are ranked by their scores and the top approximately 50% are invited to the Interview Panel round.
5) Interview Panel –Interviews must be completed in person in Kabul and candidates are ranked on clarity of study objectives, long-term goals, commitment to the program, volunteer experience/community involvement, and intent to return to Afghanistan, etc. The interview panel includes a subject matter expert from the Fulbright alumni community and up to three Embassy staff. Applicants are ranked independently by each reviewer and cumulative scores are used to select finalist and alternates for the 2014-2015 program.
6) Standardized tests and submission of documentation – After selection as a finalist or alternate by the Embassy, candidates must take the TOEFL and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tests, and receive scores above minimum requirements for placement at a U.S. institution (This is usually at least 150 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, and 4 in Writing, so it is important to start studying as soon as possible). In addition, candidates must submit hard copies of their diploma, transcripts and any other required documents. Failure to meet any of these requirements will mean candidates must be dropped from the program and requested to apply again for the next year.
Please note that applicants are judged according to their complete application (essays, exam scores, work and volunteer experience, interview, etc.). The most qualified and competitive candidates will be selected for nomination by the U.S. Embassy. The President’s Fulbright Scholarship Board in Washington, DC makes the final determination approving of candidates from nominees around the world in October. Finally, candidates must apply for and receive a visa for travel to the U.S. This process is separate from the application procedures and cannot be influenced by U.S. Embassy Public Affairs representatives.
Fulbright Doctoral Fellows will study at a university in the United States for up to five years. Applicants may indicate a preference for universities in which they would like to study. University preferences should be well-researched and the applicant should be able to clearly explain why certain universities were selected. These placement preferences will be explored but cannot be assured.
Placement is completed by our partner, the Institute for International Education (IIE), based on four criteria:
1) Best Academic Fit - How the program fits your study objectives and professional goals, and how competitive you are as an applicant. Universities, especially those that are well-known, receive many more applications than they can accept; therefore, admission is competitive. Admissions decisions are based on many factors, including standardized test scores (TOEFL and GRE), statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, previous academic grades, research, and professional experience. You will be competing for admission against many other candidates worldwide, and the chances of admission will be determined by the overall strength of the applicant pool and the relative strength of your application. Some departments receive so many applications that they use standardized test scores as a preliminary measure to reduce the applicant pool to a manageable size.
2) Financial Value (Cost Sharing) – Fulbright is a fellowship program that shares the costs of a full scholarship with the various volunteer institutions in the U.S. Please be aware that not all universities participate in this program and thus, may not be available.
3) Geographic Location Across the U.S. – Fulbright’s goal is mutual understanding. It is important that international students from around the world are placed in different geographic areas throughout the United States.
4) Supportive Environment – How well the institution can support you in your academic life as a foreign exchange student.
Completion of Program
All Fellows are expected to complete their programs and all degree requirements in a timely manner. Note that Fulbright has specific requirements for minimum grade point average and students must generally maintain a B average or better. Extensions and transfer between degree programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All Fellows must return to Afghanistan immediately following the completion of their academic program in the United States. This is a requirement of the J-1 visa and of the Fulbright program.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of over 150 countries around the world. The Fulbright relationship with Afghanistan began in 1952 and sponsored over 105 American and 250 Afghan students in the period up to 1979. After 1979, the program was suspended for 23 years until it was re-started in 2003 with the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Over three hundred Afghans have participated in the program since 2003. The Fulbright Doctoral Program was established in 2012 and joins this prestigious family of programs.
Participants will be recruited through a merit-based, open competition and chosen by an American-led team. Selections are based upon participants’ leadership potential, academic excellence, maturity, ability to adjust successfully to academic life in the U.S., strong interest in engaging Americans, and potential to promote mutual understanding between the United States and Afghanistan. Successful candidates should be poised to assume leadership positions in their fields and must demonstrate a commitment to returning and serving Afghanistan.
Applicants must be citizens of Afghanistan, have completed their undergraduate and Master’s education, and hold a degree equivalent to a U.S. Master’s degree by August 2013.
Applicants should have a sufficient level of English to enable them to successfully complete full-time graduate study in the United States. Many successful applicants earn a score of 600 or higher on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Long-term language training may be available for some applicants who fail to obtain the required TOEFL score; however, all applicants must demonstrate sufficient English language skills during the interview portion of the selection process. Semi-finalists will also be required to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) in English. It is very important to study for these tests as the GRE and TOEFL scores are equally important to be competitive for placement into U.S. universities. If you do not have a strong GRE score, you may not be placed in a Ph.D. program.
Strong preference will be given to applicants who have not had extensive recent experience in the United States. Applicants currently living outside of Afghanistan and U.S. citizens are ineligible for the program.
All grantees are required to return to Afghanistan for at least two years at the conclusion of their grant in compliance with the J-visa requirements, to promote mutual understanding, and serve as future leaders in the public and private sectors of Afghanistan. After our grantees return to Afghanistan and establish themselves in their careers, it is still possible to get another visa to the U.S. allowing travel back and forth on necessary business.
Tips for Success
Please review our “Tips” for success, located on the right side of this page. The Focus on Your Essays section has been particularly useful for previous applicants. There is guidance on preparing for the interview, preparing for the iTOEFL or TOEFL tests, and strengthening your letters of recommendation. Also, you may want to review the tips recommended by ETS for the GRE at https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/tips/. We recommend that you form study groups to prepare for both the TOEFL and the GRE tests. For the GRE, it is often helpful to group by field of study.
If you can’t find the answer here, please email KabulPDExchanges@state.gov for assistance. Also, please see our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) for the Fulbright Graduate/Ph.D. Programs. For more information about IIE and the Fulbright program in general, please see www.iie.org and http://eca.state.gov/Fulbright.
Fulbright Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
General Questions about the Fulbright Programs:
Q - What is the Fulbright Program?
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program provides participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright Program is an important element of the United States’ bilateral relationships with countries around the world.
Q - Who sponsors the Fulbright Program?
The primary source of the funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Fulbright Program under policy guidelines established by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board with the assistance of bi-national Fulbright Commissions in 50 countries, U.S. embassies in more than 100 other countries and cooperating agencies in the United States.
Q – How can we get more information about Fulbright programs?
encourage all interested applicants to visit the U.S. Embassy Kabul website http://kabul.usembassy.gov/fulbright.html and http://kabul.usembassy.gov/fd.html
to learn more about the Fulbright
and other exchange programs.
Q- How are the Fulbright applicants selected?
The Fulbright Program’s application process is lengthy and rigorous, and prospective applicants are encouraged to consider carefully their intentions, goals, future plans and prospective projects before applying for a Fulbright grant.
Participants will be recruited through a merit-based, open competition and selected based upon their leadership potential, academic excellence, community involvement, maturity, ability to adjust successfully to life in the U.S., strong interest in engaging Americans, and potential to promote mutual understanding between the United States and Afghanistan. Applications are reviewed by a bi-national panel from the U.S. Embassy and the applications of the finalists are submitted to the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York.
Q – How do I submit the supporting documents for the Fulbright programs?
All the applicants can attach their transcripts, diplomas and letters of reference while completing the applications in the Embark software system: https://apply.embark.com/student/fulbright/international/20 or bring a hard copy when they scheduled for an interview. It is very important to start this process early. Please review our “Tips” for success, located on the right side of this page. The Focus on Your Essays section has been particularly useful for previous applicants. There is guidance on preparing for the interview, preparing for the iTOEFL or TOEFL tests, and strengthening your letters of recommendation.
Q – Can an applicant apply for both the Humphrey and the Fulbright Graduate or Doctoral program at the same time?
Yes, he/she can apply to both programs at the same time if he/she meets the requirements of both programs. However, the requirements are very different. If interested and qualified, we encourage you to apply to both programs.
Q – Can an applicant apply for both the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) and the Fulbright Graduate or Doctoral program at the same time?
Yes, he/she can apply to both programs at the same time if he/she meets the requirements of both programs. However, the requirements are very different. If interested and qualified, we encourage you to apply to both programs. FLTA alumni are also eligible to apply for the Fulbright Graduate or Doctoral programs if they meet the program requirements and J-1 Visa residency requirements.
Q – The application requirements state that “Applicants should have limited or no prior experience in the United States.” I attended a short program in the U.S. sponsored by the U.S. government (IVLP, SUSI, AJEEP, AJFDP (Junior Faculty), FLTA, etc.), does that disqualify me as a Fulbright applicant?
No. You are eligible to apply to both the Fulbright Graduate and the Fulbright Ph.D. programs as long as you meet the other requirements of the programs. However, the requirements are very different. If interested and qualified, we encourage you to apply.
Q – Is there a different requirement for the applicants from private universities in Afghanistan?
All applicants from public and private universities are treated equally as long as their respective universities are registered with the Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan.
Q – How frequently does the US Embassy provide opportunities to apply for the Fulbright programs?
The US Embassy in Kabul offers the Fulbright programs every year. The applications are available online from March 1st to May 1st every year at http://kabul.usembassy.gov/fulbright.html and http://kabul.usembassy.gov/fd.html.
Q – Is it a requirement to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test when applying for Fulbright Graduate or Doctoral programs?
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test is required for Fulbright finalists, after their selection by the Fulbright panel. The US Embassy will arrange and pay for one session of the test to be locally administered (in Afghanistan) for all the finalist applicants. In the event a finalist cannot attend the US Embassy sponsored tests in Afghanistan, the finalist may take the test at his/her own expense at another location. Please note, it is very important to receive a high score on the GRE (or GMAT for business school candidates) if you hope to be placed in a good program in the U.S. Generally, the minimum requirement for university placement is 150 Verbal, 150 Quantitative (Math), and 4 in Analytical Writing (although the basic requirements for each section/component vary by field and institution). This is as important as the TOEFL score for university placement.
Q - I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and Afghanistan. Am I eligible to apply?
No. Any dual U.S. citizen regardless of the other citizenship cannot apply from another country for a Fulbright grant to the United States as all U.S. citizens are ineligible for Fulbright grants to the U.S.
Non-U.S. citizens who have legal permanent residency status in the United States are also not eligible for any Fulbright grants.
Q - I am a foreign citizen living in the United States. Am I eligible for a Fulbright grant to start or continue study in the U.S.?
No, you are not eligible for a Fulbright grant to study in the United States as a non-U.S. citizen already in the U.S. Non-U.S. citizens must apply to the program from their home country and required to be resident there at the time of application.
Q - What is it like being a Fulbrighter?
Each Fulbrighter’s experience is unique and depends on a variety of factors, including project details, location and language abilities. Despite the variety of experiences, Fulbrighters all describe their experience as life changing and having a profound influence on their professional and personal endeavors.
Q - Why is the Fulbright Program unique?
Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by the people of partner nations. The program – working with universities, schools, bi-national Fulbright commissions and foundations, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector – actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions. From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which other countries and governments work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs.
Q - What is expected from Fulbrighters?
In addition to carrying out their proposed projects, Fulbrighters are expected to involve themselves in the host community, sharing their culture while at the same time observing the host culture. After their grant periods, Fulbrighters are encouraged to bring what they have learned through this cultural exchange home and teach others about the cultures they have experienced. Fulbrighters are also encouraged to continue the Fulbright experience by reaching out to their home communities, participating in Fulbright alumni activities and networking with other Fulbrighters.
Q - Are Fulbright grants available for study and research in third countries?
No. As a U.S. Government-sponsored program that operates on a bi-national basis with other countries, the Fulbright Program only funds non-U.S. citizens for study, research and teaching in the United States.
Q – After successful completion of my Fulbright program, I am required to return to Afghanistan. Does this mean I will not be allowed to travel to America again?
No. All grantees are required to return to Afghanistan for at least two years at the conclusion of their grant in compliance with the J-visa requirements, to promote mutual understanding, and serve as future leaders in the public and private sectors of Afghanistan. After our grantees return to Afghanistan and establish themselves in their careers, it is still possible to get other visas to the U.S. allowing travel back and forth on necessary business. Many of our alumni often travel to the U.S. on business now.
Q - The Consular Officer said my visa was approved, but administrative processing was required. I have been waiting a long time and I still have not received my visa. Why is it taking so long and when will it be ready?
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview, but some cases do take longer. The timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date, whenever possible. You should not purchase any air tickets that you are unable to change before you have received your visa.
* This process is separate from the program application procedures and cannot be influenced by U.S. Embassy Public Affairs representatives.
See the question below for instructions on how to check the status of your visa.
Q - How will I know my visa processing is complete?
You should check the status of your
visa by visiting the Consular website at http://kabul.usembassy.gov/processing_time_visa_applications.html. Please follow the instructions given
Q – How can we get information about the Fulbright Doctoral Program?
The Public Affairs section at the US Embassy has recently started to offer Doctoral Programs, the numbers of scholarships are limited. The newly inaugurated Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship will place qualified Afghans at United States’ universities in a five year Ph.D. program in selected fields of study during the 2014-15 academic years.
Q - What are the requirements for the Fulbright Doctoral Program?
All interested applicants should meet the following criteria:
- Must be Afghan citizens currently residing in Afghanistan;
- Master’s degree required (degree attested before September 1st) and have a strong academic background as demonstrated by their post-secondary transcripts;
- Proficient in English (Finalists generally have a TOEFL score of 610 or higher);
- Present three letters of recommendation from their professors and/or employers;
- Function easily in academic and social settings;
- Provide a professional writing sample (10-15 pages, in anticipated field of study);
- Be able to obtain a high score on the GRE test -- Aim for scores of at least 150 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, and 4 for Analytical Writing (although minimum requirements will vary according to field and institution);
- Demonstrate a strong involvement in your community or Afghanistan.
Applications for the 2014-1015 academic year will be available online beginning March 1, 2013 and must be submitted by the May 1, 2013 deadline. Late applications are not accepted. Applications for the 2014-2015 year will be available at: https://apply.embark.com/student/fulbright/international/20
Q – Which fields of study are offered under the Fulbright Doctoral program?
The interested applicants can apply to the following fields:
Agriculture, Communications, Economics, Education, Engineering, Math, Science or Technology
For more information, please visit: http://kabul.usembassy.gov/educational_exchange.html or http://foreign.fulbrightonline.org/ .
More questions? Please email KabulPDExchanges@state.gov