As you all know that USA Fulbright Scholarship 2020-2021 will be announced soon. This important and informative USA Fulbright Guide is written by Muhammad Sohaib Niazi who is an Erasmus Scholar, HR Professional, Trainer, and Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.
The Fulbright Masters and PhD Program funds graduate study in the United States for a Master’s or Ph.D. degree. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), these grants cover tuition, required textbooks, airfare, a living stipend, and health insurance. USEFP also assists with the visa process.
Applications are accepted each year in February and the deadline to submit an application is around May. The application review and interview process continue until September and the results are announced in mid-October. After selection, the university submission and placement process continues until February and visa interviews take place until June. The departure to the U.S. commences in July and onwards, depending on the university reporting dates.
Carefully read this comprehensive USA Fulbright Guide for the year 2020-2021. Mr. Sohaib covered all the important topics in this important write-up. Share with your friends! Good Luck!
USA Fulbright Guide 2020-2021
What do you need to apply?
1) 16 years of education for a Master’s degree application or 18 years of education for PhD application.
2) GRE scores at least in excess of 300 to have a good chance as for 90% selected candidates the GRE score is in excess of 300 as seen in analysis from recent years. You can improve it later once selected for Fulbright but try to do it at once and score at least 300 plus and ideally 310+ for top league universities (once you get selected for Fulbright). You should be done with GRE at maximum by the end of March 2020 to leave a reasonable time for application and other documentation.
3) You can apply if you will get your latest degree (16years for MS application and 18years degree for PhD application) maximum before the end of December 2020.
4) TOEFL is NOT needed at the application stage, only if you get selected in the first round and are called for “Interview” then you are required to show TOEFL registration slip on the interview day. It is in your own best interest to appear for TOEFL before applying especially if you are done with GRE or have enough time but is not mandatory at the application stage. A score in excess of 90 is safe for 90% universities and ideally, you should try to score 100+.
NOTE: IELTS IS NOT ACCEPTED
5) Personal Statement and Study Objectives are absolutely vital parts of your application. Start exploring your desired universities to put yourself already in the context of what kind of candidate is a good candidate in your field and how to RELATE your GOALS AND OBJECTIVES with those of Fulbright as well as you are obligated to return back to Pakistan after your degree completion. They also want to see your motivation and intent to impact your profession once you come back to Pakistan. Try to learn how to write them as there is a bundle of resources on google instead of always relying on readymade guides. No shoe size fits all, the same goes for such subjective documents.
6) For MBA applicants ONLY, you need at least two years of professional post-undergraduate experience (according to last year’s requirements, previously it was 3 years, so do check Fulbright website in February 2020 to confirm) to apply for Fulbright. In case you get selected, you may be required to submit a GMAT score (if needed by any specific university), but for applying to Fulbright, GRE at this stage is a must.
Main Factors to Increase the Chances of Selection ((Factors that You can Influence)
1) A relevant and clear personal statement
2) Clear and specific study objectives
3) A high GRE score shows your commitment and competence to pursue a higher degree in theUS.
4) Research papers in journals and conferences are highly valued
5) Impact on the community in terms of demonstrated (having proofs/certificates) leadership, community, and volunteer work, startups, projects, and initiatives.
6) TOEFL score of 100+
7) Extracurricular and extroverted achievements like debates’ prizes that depict you can be a good cross-cultural ambassador.
8) Good shortlisting of probable programs that you want Fulbright to consider for you, can land you in your dream program in case you get selected so spend some time on shortlisting them really well.
☆☆☆ In the case of a master’s degree application, you cannot nominate any program in the application form that doesn’t have a terminal master’s degree (a separate master’s degree) on offer. So, shortlist universities wisely in case you want to fill an optional part of the form in which you can suggest your desired probable programs that you may want to join for MS.
☆☆☆ Selected candidates in 2020 will fly to the USA around August 2021. So, it is a time taking process.
☆☆☆ It is a governmental scholarship and has some specific motives like a socio-cultural exchange, has also preferenced for some fields like energy, agriculture, etc. and also has special consideration for neglected groups, minorities and people belonging from less privileged and less represented facets of society. So, it is not a purely merit-based scholarship, it balances your merit with other such factors mentioned and also your impact in society especially in governmental or developmental projects/startups and also as a functional citizen of society is an advantage being a Fulbright aspirant.
Why Fulbright Master /PhD matters?
1) Zero application fee!
2) GRE free vouchers in some cases if you get selected for Fulbright but your GRE score is low.
3) You don’t have to pay hefty applications’ fees for universities.
4) One form means application to multiple universities if you get selected in Fulbright.
5) Even with a moderate GRE score, you can land into a US university on full scholarship not only for PhD but also for a master’s degree (which otherwise is very rare in the US).
6) Full funding for your period of a stay including air travel, room setup, books, and laptop allowance.
7) The Fulbright degree is a brand name in Pakistan as a symbol of quality education
8) TOEFL score not needed at application stage (only when you are invited for interview after initial screening, you need to bring along registration slip)
APPLICATIONS for FULBRIGHT Scholarship for Master’s and Ph.D. degrees will open very soon in February 2020 and will end around mid-end of May 2020!
Appear in GRE – It is not as tough as you think (they have to earn money so they make heavy books) – with a suitable 40-60 days preparation you can easily sail over 310. If you will not apply, you will never get selected. People even got in with 291 on GRE last time with dynamic and balanced profiles and well-crafted Personal Statement and Study Objectives etc.
Approximately 150-200 Master’s and Ph.D. students get a Fulbright scholarship every year. The monthly stipend depends on the location of your campus. Normally for MS, it can range from 1400 to 2400 US$ and for PhD even more than this amount. So, you can easily send a reasonable remittances to your home as well.
Once back to Pakistan you will have a fair degree of advantage over other similar candidates in your professional field.
The USA undoubtedly is the leader in the field of education and for Pakistan’s context, there is nothing like having the USA based higher education.
The LICENSE here is the GRE, score 310+ and you are already in the game, please note that there is no minimum CGPA requirement to apply.
When submitting your application, you may report the unofficial GRE score you will see on-screen on the day of the test, or your official score if you have received it (then you just need to send them the score via codes if you haven’t sent in recent past).
Every applicant must request on test day that ETS sends an official score report directly to USEFP using the code 9388 and to the Institute of International Education (IIE) using code 2326. (You can send a max of 4 scores for free on test day, if you don’t send to these two for Fulbright, later you will have to spend approximately 27US$ for each additional score report (ASR), that is total 54 US$ in this case).
Please note that sending the score to USEFP is a must at application stage while to IIE be done after final selection but if you don’t need to send a score to any other 3 institutions apart from USEFP then you may send to IIE as well so as not to waste 27US$ later.
Collect as many certifications as possible for your work experience, volunteer work, attend relevant seminars/conferences/workshops, people with startups and blogs, e-platforms and good research experience also are given advantage.
People from all fields are eligible to apply except for clinical medicine and there is no age limit. You must get your final degree and transcript by the end of December 2020 to be considered your Fulbright Master or PhD admissions.
You don’t need HEC attested degrees/transcripts to apply if you have them that’s alright, if not just get them attested from issuing authority (that is from respective universities).
There is a high preference in the fields of Agriculture, Energy, Water, and Public Policy!
Ingredients of a Good Profile (In general)
- A CGPA in excess of at least 3.3
- At least one relevant project
- At least 2 versatile internships
- A conference publication or local HEC recognized research paper would be an added advantage but not required
- Attended at least 2 relevant seminars/ conferences and if possible 1, 2 Workshops
- Appeared in TOEFL ideally with 100+
- Taken GRE with at least 310-315 score
- At least two relevant online courses from Coursera etc.
- Some co-curricular and extra-curricular achievements are a plus
- Adequate SOFT SKILLS which we often miss, many of us have good profiles but we don’t know how to give good interviews, how to write SOPs and research proposals, how to professionally mail professors, etc. Learn all of these with full protocols.
P.S. Those who have passed this stage and didn’t have all this armory need not be demotivated, it is aimed at young BS students who have just joined or have still time left to improve their profiles. You people must inform and help your juniors, siblings, friends, and cousins, etc. and help them do better since BS level.
We often focus on big things once we are done with undergrad but those things are possible only when maximum students will be armored by the above-mentioned resources.
Students can divide such goals into short term objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) and then execute them semester by semester.
Mind that whatever you do today will play the major part in what you will get tomorrow.
A smart and easy GUIDE to score 310-315 on the GRE
I am sharing a very easy and smart guide to score 310-315 on the GRE. 310-315 on GRE is considered decent enough for most candidates applying to US/Canada/Singapore etc. for Fulbright, direct admissions and for other international scholarships.
If you are aiming at a score in excess of 315 this guide can help you somewhat, but you will need a more comprehensive strategy. If you are aiming to score around 310-315, I guarantee a score of 310-315 if you will follow this guide based on my work on rules of the GRE and converting it into a game and sorting out the tactics that will for sure help you score 310-315. Must follow all the steps of this important GRE Preparation Guide.
Time Required: 40 Days Maximum
Daily Efforts Required: 3-4 hours normal days and 6 hours on the weekends (Approx. 160-170 Hours in Total)
- GRE Website
- Powerprep 2 timed tests accessible for FREE online on GRE Website
- Three ETS OFFICIAL guides
- Manhattan 8 Strategy Guides
- Manhattan 5lb book
- Magoosh Vocabulary Mobile App or website
- GRE maths basic foundations
Strategy: (Follow as it is in GIVEN ORDER)
1. You should have a passport to appear in GRE therefore if you don’t have to get one. (Random time required not a formal GRE task)
2. Register your account on the GRE website, make sure you enter correct NAME AS PER PASSPORT, what to enter in the first name, middle and last, to leave middle or last as empty, etc. 100% according to what you have in the passport as given name and surname. For instance, if you need to put first 2 as the first name and last as surname and leave a middle name as blank or whatever is your passport format follow that. Date of birth and other details etc. should also correct and must match passport otherwise you will not be allowed to sit for GRE. (Random task)
NOW you should read full GRE WEBSITE with due care, I MEAN IT. Read the whole website at least 3 times, get to know about each and every minute detail such that you kind of memorize all details, the time required for each section, how many questions, what is a research section, AWA section and how the sections are scored in GRE, what is meant by easy, medium and hard sections, how scores can be high or low based on maximum correct answers in different sections, what is section adaptive test, what are the percentiles at what scores in quant and verbal, I mean literally you should be 100%
sure about any detail about GRE. Use google for all kinds of questions, read magoosh/manhattan GRE forums and there are numerous articles online to answer such questions. Even then if something is missed out, inbox me. (6 hours)
3) Make sure you are done with step 2 completely, then Access the 2 timed free tests on the GRE website, just access the 1St one, leave the 2ND one for last days before the actual test. (Randomtask)
4) Without taking mock first do the book “GRE Maths basic foundations” (It is primarily for GMAT but very helpful to revise basic maths especially if you are from non-numerical subjects’ majors). You need to do it from page 1 to end including max practice questions, whatever seems tough use the internet always, manually google your topics and you will find good videos and links, read and make sure you learn them well. (15 Hours)
5) Now take the 1ST mock test as an actual test with no distractions in a separate room at home etc. and also don’t forget it will not include the AWA section. If you score more than 290 then you are ok until here, if you score less than 290, revisit the book mentioned above and revise it once more. (3 hours)
6) REGISTER FOR THE GRE TEST and make payment online. Approximately register for a suitable date which should be at maximum 35 days later from this date. As you will be done by 5 days of work before it. Make sure from this day to the test DATE, the gap must not be greater than 35-37 days for those who have extremely busy weekdays even. You have to work somehow for GRE.
7) Now, start with two things at the same time. Manhattan 1-6 Quant guides and Magoosh app for vocabulary.
Do all first 6 out of 8 guides (for Quant) in the same order as they are, FOCUS AND LEARN THE CONCEPTS AND RULES AND TRICKS, don’t practice many questions especially medium and hard ones. Manhattan guides are not a true indicator of how GRE questions are tested. USE these 6 guides for specialized learning of various QUANT areas that are tested. Spend a bit more time on weak areas may be geometry or probability or whatever. Make sure you are good with strong areas. Along with these 6-guides, you will maintain a register for Magoosh vocab, 25 words with their meanings and 1 sentence each written and learned as you did in schools. Don’t go to the next 25 every next day until you have revised the previous 25 by narrating meanings to a friend or sibling etc. You have to finish only 650 EASY and MEDIUM words and not the hard ones. Take a break after every week on Sunday and just revise the already learned words, start every day by revising all words learned until then. Running ahead is useless if you are forgetting to focus more on revising then learning maximum words. In GRE the contextual understanding is tested, so you don’t need to know the exact word written as meaning in magoosh app, write the meaning may be from google or any other dictionary if you may like. (50
8. Now complete Manhattan 7 and 8 verbal guides and also with that you will also keep on doing magoosh words according to the previous point. AWA will also be covered here, just take it easy not to score too low in it. A simple tool: Write as you write in matric essay, Intro, body, and conclusion. The first paragraph should rephrase and highlight what is asked, last should summarize and conclude. The body should have a few paras but don’t think you need to write too long to score well. Brevity is the soul of wit.
For Analysis of Argument, you critically analyze its assumptions, weaknesses, correlations, and causations made BUT you don’t give your own opinions and judgments just analyze someone else’s argument that is given in the question, for ANALYSIS OF ISSUE you give your OWN OPINIONS AND JUDGEMENTS as well. In other words for the ISSUE task, you are one step behind the ARGUMENT task, you yourself are to an argument, while in ARGUMENT task someone else has already given an argument on an issue and you need to critically analyze the argument only not the issue in itself. (18 Hours)
9) Complete Manhattan 5lb book, again being manhattan book you will not attempt any question from it apart from random easy questions here and there and just SKIM IT OVER, with a bit closer look to concepts and theory and smart tools. (20 hours)
10) Complete official general ETS guide then quant and verbal guides. Focus both on concepts/theory and practice maximum medium level and easy questions but not all. Focus more on strategy and how questions are solved than solving full books. REMEMBER THE SAYING, If you have 6 hours to chop down GRE, spend the first 4 on sharpening the concepts. (45 Hours)
11) Take the 2ND online ETS GRE website-based test even if you score around 302-305, most probably you will touch 310 on the test day. (3 Hours)
12) Revise all 650 words from the register, even if you forget a few that is all OK. Revise your shortcuts, formulas, smart strategies that you will have written in your register while preparing the above resources. (6 Hours)
13) Don’t study at least one day before the exam, play and enjoy and sleep well. Target 9 AM slot for the test ideally on a Monday if you work or go to university on the other days so Monday can be a great day to take the test.
14. Before the test, during preparation days, also calculate the time approximately you should spend on each question, etc. Take DIGITAL WATCH with you and note down on your rough sheet the exact time when you actually press the START TEST button.
15) Don’t overthink, go with 1ST instinct, many GRE questions can be solved by eliminating wrong options and also don’t forget all questions within a section carry equal marks regardless of their difficulty level. Use rough work and onscreen calculator wisely and to good effect.
16) Take the test and share the results with me, you are good to go for Fulbright, direct admissions and other similar pursuits, etc.
GRE is like a game, whosoever learn the rules of this game plays better and wins. Focus more on how it operates, the procedures, concepts and smart tools than a lot of practice. For 310-315, only practice from ETS official 3 books and randomly from manhattan guides. No HARD questions to be done from any source. For the 310-315 score range, you will be attempting max easy and medium questions.
P.S. GRE is not a tough exam and I am saying again this strategy is only for 310-315 target in GRE. Also, keep in mind your educational background and intended majors will be different so you can monitor you need to pay more efforts on both if you are weak in Maths and English or just on any one of them. Similarly, sometimes you need a higher score on Maths or verbal depending upon your intended majors. So you can divide that 310 according to your needs as depicted by desired universities’ class profiles.
You don’t need to practice more, you need to get the BASICS right. How it operates and the concepts! You can recalibrate time according to your strong and weak areas and your personal constraints.
I GUARANTEE a score of 310-315 (and maybe a bit more) if you follow this guide as it is.
GRE Material Google Drive Link. This is the link for all GRE MATERIAL that I discussed in my post.
Curriculum Vitae Guidelines (USA Fulbright Guide 2020-2021)
Your CV should be on a standard A4 Page setting, with a decent serif or sans serif font like Times New
Roman, Verdana, Georgia (I prefer this), etc. Font size can vary but not less than 10-11 and not more
than 12 for normal text. Headings could be a bit bigger and so can be the name.
✓ Don’t use any colors apart from standard black and white.
✓ Use standard heading and text formats throughout, similarly use standard dates and bullets’ formats.
✓ Don’t underline or bold excessively.
✓ Don’t write address, contact, and email ID, etc. as they are included in the application.
✓ Don’t add REFERENCES section and PLEASE don’t write available on request.
✓ Don’t mention terms like team player etc. and DON’T include an objective statement or personal summary.
✓ Don’t use the pronoun “I” and DON’T include a picture.
✓ Don’t put a full stop at the end of job-related achievements/duties etc. as they are NORMALLY not
sentences but only phrases.
As profiles can vary a great deal from person to person so the layout or organization of information in structure can also vary, however, try to follow this order:
1. Education (Normally from latest to previous ones, don’t include Matric/O levels and Intermediate/A levels information but if you do then be very precise and write mainly about university degrees)
Write the year of completion (or expected year), CGPA/percentages and University name
2. Professional Experience (Write your role, tenure and BRIEFLY highlight achievements/work done and NOT the duties and responsibilities)
3. Research Experience and Projects (or just one of them) (Write your role, tenure and achievements /work done and NOT the duties and responsibilities)
4. Certificate Courses (or) Professional Certifications (Name and brief information, grade, etc.)
5. Volunteer Experience (if any)
6. Computes/Software and Language Skills (Brief and specific) Not a very important section for some applicants.
7. Awards and Achievements (Very few major and relevant ones not like got a Laptop etc.)
✓ Don’t make typos, proofread it, ensure the settings of the page are correct and standardized, rename the file like “SohaibCV” and always convert the WORD CV into PDF before uploading.
Note: The headings order, information detail, etc. can vary a little depending upon your own profile.
Personal Statement Guidelines (FULBRIGHT Scholarship in USA 2020-2021)
Note: There are no standard guidelines for any subjective document such as personal statements. However, some important guidelines to follow while writing your personal statement for your Fulbright 2020-21 application, consider the following points.
1) Your number 1 guideline is the statement given on your Fulbright application section of Personal Statement, which details what you should cover in this statement which goes like this:
This personal statement should be a narrative statement describing how you have achieved your current goals. It should not be a mere listing of facts. It should include information about your education, practical experience, special interests, and career plans. Describe any significant factors that have influenced your educational or professional development. Comment on the number of years of practical experience already completed in the field in which academic work will be done in the U.S. Does not mention specific U.S. universities at which you would like to study. Please limit your response to 700-750 words.
2) Write about your story side of education and experience, don’t repeat your CV.
3) Write in a progressive way and build your story from your past to present and picture your future aim and objectives, don’t forget to quote real-life examples instead of just listing your skills and strengths.
4. Mention how your goals relate to Fulbright’s objectives as well as to the type of MS/PhD program you intend to pursue.
5. Justify your choice of field and how this MS/PhD will serve as a great pathway to achieve your future goals. Be as specific as possible.
6. Blend your story with a touch of emotions and quote any examples of how you handled any kind of hardships in life, whether physical or financial etc. or working in such volunteer causes.
7. Mention about your social interests and specify your work experience (if you have any) especially your contribution.
8. Describe any special events or reasons that may have led you to pursue your field (or have made you change your interests IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR A DIFFERENT PROGRAM than your background).
9. Explain any education gaps etc. and low grades or any such information which you may deem as important.
10. Don’t overuse redundant quotations and follow the word limit strictly, follow the basics of essay and logical flow in your writing as well as in story should be present. Relate well the background, your story, education, experience, goals, and personal vision.
Study Objective Guidelines (USA Fulbright Guide 2020-2021)
1) Again the first point will remain the major most guideline as per the Fulbright application’s guideline:
Write a clear and detailed description of your study/research objectives, and give your reasons for wanting to pursue them. Be specific about your major field and your specialized interests within this field. Describe the kind of program you expect to undertake, and explain how your study plan fits in with your previous training and your future objectives. This statement is an essential part of your application and is required. Do not mention specific U.S. universities at which you would like to study. Please limit your response to 700-750 words.
2. Be vivid and specific as much as possible. Get to know what exactly you want to study and improve those pointers/rough drafts until you are sure that it is the most precise picture of your study (MS/PhD)/research (for PhD) objectives.
3. Give clear and precise reasons why you want to study what you want to study as per the above point.
4. Tell the committee which kind of MS/PhD typically you would ideally want to pursue and sometimes also that how does it differ from other closely related but subtly different programs and why this program which you want is an ideal fit for your study objectives and future goals. Therefore, relate the program selected to your study objectives and future goals.
5. Within the field specified by you, go even in specific depth, they want to exactly know what exactly you want. For instance, instead of just writing I want to do MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, I would also go in detail what exactly I want to mainly work on during my MS such as recruitment and training and so on.
6. Explain in relative detail how your chosen program above is in alignment with your previous education and experience (if any). In some cases, it would not be easy and even in some cases would be totally different than your academic background, then try to relate them smartly and show enough rational reasons that why you should be given the opportunity in your chosen major despite that fact that you don’t have proven record in it. Show your competence, knowledge, and motivation of that chosen field and tell them your specific plans about that field and how you think you can do well in that field.
7. Relate, relate, relate. Relate study objectives, future goals, the program selected and reasons for having your specific study objectives and reasons for choosing your desired program. The more the purposeful is the alignment between all facets, the greater is the chance this coherence of narration will make your study objectives stand out.
This document is complete now for the components of the Fulbright application. I will keep on posting updated information as well in all major Facebook groups and on my Facebook. (THIS IS A FREE HELP)
Mr. Sohaib has also written study guides about:
- PhD in US Universities – Direct Admission in US Universities on Scholarships
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarship Guide
- Why International Masters Degree matter?
- General Internet Search Guidelines for Higher Education
Muhammad Sohaib Niazi
MBA Candidate at LUMS | I/O Psychologist | Talent Management Specialist | Erasmus Grad | Life Coach