6. The Project Statement

The project statement is the most important component of the Fulbright application. Scholars/artists with the most compelling, theoretically sound, well-written, feasible proposals are generally recommended for awards. Sometimes those with outstanding professional achievements assume that a brief, general project statement will be sufficient. It is not.

6.a Format

  • The project statement itself must be three to five single-spaced typed pages (3,500 words). Do not exceed the page limit of the proposal. Including irrelevant or extraneous material may divert attention from the project statement
  • Begin the project statement with your name, country and the project title at the top of page one. At the top of each subsequent page, type your name and country
  • Number each page
  • In addition, attach a select bibliography of no more than three pages (2,100 words), if appropriate, to your proposed research.
  • Organize your proposal in order of the following sections, which appear in bold print, and use them as headings for sections of text in your statement

6.b For a Research Project

  • Background: Introduce the research topic. Place the project in academic or professional context by referring to major works by others on the subject. Explain very clearly what has been done on this topic and what needs to be done. This is extremely important
  • Objectives:Clearly define the aims of the project. Consider listing your objectives for clarity
  • Methodology: Describe the project. Explain the approach, methods and plan you will use (for example, interviews, library or archival research, or laboratory experiments). Indicate whether the proposed research is quantitative or qualitative. Again, consider a list of methods
  • Significance: Explain the importance of the project for your home country, your field, and your own professional development. Showing your work’s import for your country is extremely important. Indicate what effect you expect the opportunity to have on your teaching or professional work in your home country. (For example: new approaches to curriculum planning, student advising or pedagogy; expanding knowledge in the field through collaboration with U.S. colleagues). Describe briefly the expected impact of your participation on your home institution, community or professional field
  • Evaluation and Dissemination: Describe plans for assessment and distribution of research results in your home country and elsewhere
  • Justification for Residence in the US for the Proposed Project: 1) Indicate why it is necessary for the accomplishment of the project to conduct research in the US and 2) why the university you proposed is appropriate for your study
  • Duration: Explain how the project can be completed within the time period proposed. Outline the schedule for completing your project
  • English Proficiency: Describe your level of competence in speaking, reading and writing. Explain your assessment
  • Other: If applicable, indicate the quantity, format and transportation requirements for any botanical, zoological or mineral samples that you will need to bring to the US for analysis.

6.c For an Artistic Project

  • Artistic Experience: Describe your background as an artist. Explain how your experience will be relevant to your proposed project in the US
  • Proposed Project: Explain what activity (i.e., learning a new skill, apprenticeship with an American expert, teaching or sharing one’s own particular skill, establishing or deepening a collaborative relationship, etc.) you propose to undertake in the US
  • English Proficiency: Describe your level of competence in speaking, reading and writing. Explain your assessment
  • Expected Outcomes: Indicate what effect you expect the opportunity to have on your professional work in your home country. Describe briefly the expected impact of your participation on your home institution, community or professional field

6.d Tips for an Excellent Statement (for Researchers and Artists)

In addition to following the format carefully, the following advice has been passed on from former Fulbright Scholars, review committees and CIES staff.

  • Type a clear and complete project statement that introduces you professionally to the Selection Committee in Nepal and to your colleagues in the US. The best applications are those that well reflect the applicant’s purpose and intent
  • Make sure that your qualifications and expertise match the objectives in your project statement. Show that you are qualified to accomplish what you are proposing to do
  • Show how your work is important to your country
  • Emphasize how your project will benefit the host institution or other scholars/artists in your field both in your country and in the US. Address in your project statement the ways in which you will use the experience upon your return. What is the likely impact of your experience abroad? To whom? How will you use what you learned upon your return, professionally and personally?
  • Connect your past experience to what you are preparing to do if you receive an award. Explain the project’s significance and its importance to the field
  • Show a track record of relevant work. Do not assume that your suitability for the endeavor is self-evident. Your standing in your field may not be well known to reviewers. You need to make a case for yourself based on your past experience and current scholarly endeavors
  • Use language that will be understood by reviewers from outside your field. This is especially important if you work in the Sciences
  • Do not stress how a Fulbright grant will benefit only you or your career. Remember that the program is intended to foster mutual understanding between cultures and nations
  • Be specific in laying out the nature of your proposed Fulbright activity. Show a step by step plan. A frequent failing in applications is that the proposal is underdeveloped or too imprecise to give reviewers a clear sense of the endeavor. Focus on what can be reasonably accomplished during the period of the grant
  • Discuss any preparatory steps you have taken or will take before starting your grant. For example, if you plan to bring samples of plants, chemicals, human tissue, etc., indicate that you have discussed your plans with the U.S. Embassy and your prospective host, if known, in order to determine what clearance and approval processes are needed

6.e Style

  • Clear, concise, and compelling writing matters. Make each word count
  • Emphasize key points in the first paragraph of the proposal. Reviewers examine many Fulbright applications, and having to search for the main points of the proposed activity is not helpful. You should grab the reviewer’s attention quickly and state clearly what you want to do, why it is important and how you will do it. You should use the rest of the proposal to support your statements in the opening paragraphs
  • You may want to use the first person, but you should avoid flooding your proposal with “I’s” or referring to yourself in the third person
  • The first sentence of each paragraph helps readers understand that paragraph’s main point
  • Selective use of lists can be very effective. For example: I have three main objectives. First, to develop A and B. Second, to test C and D. Third, to publish my results in E and F
  • Wordiness can significantly undermine the effectiveness of proposals. Make each word count; cut the rest
  • Avoid jargon. Make sure general readers will understand your proposal. Keep your proposal simple and straightforward so that an educated reader from another discipline can understand it
  • Avoid the passive voice
  • Eliminate vague, unspecific language. Give clear and concrete details