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Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowships

Written by Ben Taylor

Every year, talented Indian students receive funding for study in the USA through the Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship scheme. Fulbright-Nehru Scholarships give Indian students the chance to study an American Masters degree in a selection of key subject areas.

This page will explain how Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowships work, providing advice on eligibility, applications, personal statements and more.

What is the Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship?

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946, aiming to develop international study links between the USA and the rest of the world.

The Indian branch of the Fulbright Program is administered by the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF). USIEF offers a range of Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships, named after Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

The most significant award for prospective Masters students is the Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship, granting Indian students the opportunity to study a one- or two-year Masters in the USA in one of the following subject areas:

  • Arts and Culture Management (including Heritage Conservation and Museum Studies)
  • Economics
  • Environmental Science
  • Higher Education Administration
  • International Affairs
  • International Legal Studies
  • Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health
  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Gender Studies

If you successfully apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship, you’ll receive:

  • A financial contribution towards tuition fees and living costs
  • J-1 visa support
  • Travel expenses
  • Health insurance

Please note that the Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship doesn’t provide extra funding for any dependents you might have.

Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship eligibility

Before applying for a Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship, you’ll need to make sure that you satisfy the main eligibility criteria. You must be:

  • An Indian national with residency in India
  • A high achiever in terms of your academic and professional background
  • Proficient in the English language
  • Intending to return to India after your studies in the USA

As part of the academic requirements for the Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship, applicants must have achieved at least 55% in one of the following degrees from a recognised Indian institution (it should be the equivalent of an American Bachelors programme):

  • Four-year Bachelors degree
  • Masters degree
  • Full-time postgraduate diploma

You must also show evidence of your leadership experience and a background in community service. You’ll also need to have at least three years of professional experience in a field that’s relevant to your study plans.

How to apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship

Applications for Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowships are handled online via the Institute of International Education (IIE). You’ll need to create an account with IIE and submit a series of supporting documents. These include:

  • CV (no more than four pages long)
  • Academic transcripts
  • English language test results
  • Graduate entry test results
  • Three letters of reference
  • Proof of your professional experience
  • A copy of your passport
  • An endorsement from your employer (if you’re planning to leave your job in order to take part in the Fulbright-Nehru programme, this isn’t necessary)

In addition, you’ll complete a study plan comprising of three parts:

You’ll also need to complete a set of extra questions through a form known as the FNMasters Applicant Annexure – more information on that below.

Note that you don’t need to have received a letter of acceptance from an American university when you apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship.

Instead, you’ll indicate during your application what your preferred universities and Masters programmes in the USA are.

If your Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship application is successful, IIE and Fulbright will apply to four different universities on your behalf, considering those preferences and your skillset.

Study and research objectives

One of the most important elements of your application will be the part of the study plan that covers your study and research objectives.

This is where you’ll explain the motivations behind your choice of Masters, what you hope to achieve during your studies and how this particular project is relevant to India or the USA. You should also talk about how this programme will help you meet your career ambitions when you return to India.

This portion of your study plan should be around 50 lines long. It’s best to upload it as a PDF to avoid any potential formatting issues.

Personal statement

Another important part of your study plan is the personal statement. This is your chance to talk about your academic and professional background, and how you’ve got to where you are today. Try not to simply list a series of facts – weave your biographical information together into a compelling narrative.

The personal statement is also an opportunity to mention extra-curricular interests and activities (if relevant to your study programme), as well as your professional background.

Like the study and research objectives, this should be around 50 lines long and be uploaded as a PDF.

FNMasters Applicant Annexure

As part of your application for a Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship you’ll also need to complete a supplementary form known as the FNMasters Applicant Annexure (PDF).

This form involves answering a series of questions on your personal background and motivations. These include your thoughts on improving mutual understanding between India and the USA, as well as providing examples of your leadership potential.

Deadline for the Fulbright-Nehru Masters Scholarship

The deadline for applying to a Fulbright-Nehru Masters Scholarship is usually between May and June, for programmes beginning the following year. For the 2023-24 scholarship, the deadline is 16 May 2022.

What happens after applying for a Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship?

Once you’ve applied for a Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship, a panel of experts will review your application materials. At the end of July, you’ll find out if you’ve been shortlisted.

Then, at the end of August, you’ll be invited to take an interview with a representative from USIEF. During the interview, you’ll be assessed on criteria such as:

  • Academic professional merit
  • Communication skills
  • Potential for cultural ambassadorship and adaptability
  • Maturity and leadership
  • Impact and benefits of your study programme

In early September, you’ll learn whether you’ve been nominated for funding – either as a principal nominee or an alternate one. This is also when you’ll take any exams that are required by your university, such as graduate entry tests or English language tests.

In October, USIEF will pass on successful applications to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB), who will approve and place candidates.

You’ll find out whether you’ve been approved for funding the following March or April. Then you’ll begin your Masters in August or September.

Find out more about Masters study in the USA

Ready to begin your Fulbright journey? Read our detailed guide to Masters study in the USA.

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Last Updated: 23 March 2022