U.S. Program FAQ

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General FAQ

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. Grants are available for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for non-U.S. citizens with no U.S. permanent residence to come to the U.S. The Fulbright Program is an important element of the United States’ bilateral relationships with countries around the world. U.S. and foreign governments jointly set priorities for the exchanges. For more information, visit state.gov/fulbright.

Fulbright Korea administers nine main grant programs for U.S. citizens: five for U.S. scholars and four for U.S. students. It also assists with the administration of several other global programs, including the Senior Specialist Program, Distinguished Awards in Teaching (DAST) Program, and Global Scholar Program.

Applications for Fulbright U.S. Student awards must be submitted through fulbrightonline.org. This website is administered by the Institute for International Education (IIE).

Applications for Fulbright U.S. Scholar awards must be submitted through the webpage for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) at cies.org.

Eligibility

Applicants must be citizens of the United States of America at the time of application. Permanent residents are not eligible.

Applicants holding Korean citizenship/nationality at the time of award acceptance are not eligible for U.S. Fulbright awards to Korea. Please see the U.S. Applicant Advisory for more information.

Yes, all grant applicants who have Korean heritage from their grandparent(s) or parent(s) must submit written documentation verifying that they do not have Korean citizenship. Grant applicants should inquire with their local Korean consulate regarding their Korean citizenship status well in advance of the application deadline as citizenship renunciation may take up to one year to process. Applicants holding Korean citizenship/nationality at the time of award acceptance are not eligible for U.S. Fulbright awards to Korea. To find your local Korean consulate, visit the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the U.S.

Per the Fulbright agreement between the Republic of Korea and the U.S., all Fulbright grantees must enter Korea with an American passport and an A-3 visa. Grantees may not enter the country using any other visa type, such as the D-2, E-2, or F-4.

Accompanying dependents may also enter Korea using an A-3 visa. Accompanying spouses who will not rely on a grantee for financial support, thereby not acquiring dependent status, may enter the country using another visa type.

No, there are no specific academic major requirements for any of the Fulbright awards to Korea. However, requisite academic and/or professional background knowledge may be expected depending on the grant type and proposed grant project.

Yes, per IIE guidelines, study abroad programs, integral to the American university experience, do not affect an applicant’s eligibility status for U.S. Fulbright awards. Extensive prior experience in Korea, however, can put applicants at a disadvantage during the award selection process.

Applicants who have not resided or studied in the country to which they are applying for more than six months, not counting undergraduate study abroad, are preferred. Duty abroad in the Armed Forces of the United States is not considered disqualifying within the meaning of this section. For most programs, applicants who have had extensive, recent previous foreign experience in the host country are at a competitive disadvantage but are still eligible to apply.

Individuals who have resided abroad for five or more consecutive years in the six-year period preceding the national application deadline are ineligible for award consideration. A period of nine months or more during a calendar year constitutes a full year.

For U.S. Student awards, individuals residing in Korea or who will be residing in Korea during the year preceding their award start are ineligible for award consideration. Study abroad is not considered “residing” within the meaning of this section.

In most instances, applicants are not required to know Korean before applying. However, specific award programs, such as the Korean Studies Master’s Degree Awards, may have language proficiency requirements. Irrespective of eligibility criteria, familiarity with Korean is highly recommended as it enhances grantees’ experiences in Korea.

The only Fulbright Korea program with an age limit is the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program. Candidates must be less than 30 years of age at the time of application to be eligible for an ETA award.

Fulbright Korea administers four U.S. Student Programs currently: the Open Study/Research Program, Korean Studies Master’s Degree Program, Secondary English Teaching Assistant Program, and Elementary English Teaching Assistant Program.

Fulbright Korea also administers five U.S. Scholar Programs: the Distinguished Lectureship at Yonsei University, Peace Studies Program at Kyung Hee University, Research Scholar Program, Teaching and Teaching/Research Scholar Program, and the American International Education Administrator (AIEA) Program.

Fulbright programs vary considerably regarding program objectives, grant length, and eligibility criteria. It is vital that applicants consider each program’s objectives, as well as their own abilities and interests, before applying for and accepting a grant. Applicants are encouraged to thoroughly read program descriptions before applying.

Grant Length

In principle, U.S. Scholar awards to Korea are not extendable/renewable.

U.S. Student awards to Korea may be extendable/renewable in some cases:

  • ETA awards may be renewed up to two times, for a total award length of three years. Renewal is contingent upon teaching performance and available teaching positions.
  • Master’s degree awards are initially for an award period of 12 months, with renewal contingent upon academic success.
  • Open Study/Research awards are, in principle, not extendable/renewable.

No, awards cannot be deferred to a subsequent program/academic year. Some programs, such as the U.S. Scholar and the U.S. Student Open Study/Research programs, may allow for greater flexibility in grant start dates. Applicants should review the program descriptions for information regarding acceptable grant start dates.

The Fulbright Experience in Korea

In-country orientation is conducted through individual in-processing and/or group orientation sessions at the beginning of the grant year. Applicants should review program start dates and orientation attendance expectations through the program descriptions.

Grantee choice concerning host institution varies based on the specific award program for which a grantee is accepted. In particular, English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grantees cannot choose their host institution. Instead, they are assigned to a placement school and living accommodations, which may be located anywhere in Korea outside of Seoul. Grantees in most other award programs are able to choose their own host institutions. Examples of past host institutions can be found on the Fulbright Korea website under the descriptions for each program.

More information about Korea’s robust higher education system and institutions can also be found at studyinkorea.go.kr or www.moe.go.kr. The www.studyinkore.go.kr webpage also includes a search function for finding universities which offer specific programs, such as Korean Studies programs.

No, grantees are not required to arrive in Korea early to prepare. However, grantees whose housing is not provided may choose to arrive slightly in advance of the grant start date in order to secure housing if they wish. Bank accounts, cellular plans, immigration processes, etc. may be addressed after arrival in Korea, although it may take some time for all preparations to be completed due to paperwork processing times.

The ability to avoid foods that make you allergic depends on the severity of your allergies. While Korea’s understanding of allergies is continuously changing, Korean people’s perception of allergies is different from that of Americans, and food preparation is done differently. These differences present various challenges and situations grantees must navigate primarily on their own. As ETAs, in particular, often eat food prepared by others for them, such as in school cafeterias and Korean homes, they should be prepared to navigate potential difficulties regarding allergies. While applicants may be used to navigating such difficulties at home, they should have at least some awareness of the types of challenges they could face once in Korea. We suggest all grantees do research on navigating life in Korea with allergies and that they speak with their medical provider to come up with an appropriate plan before applying for or accepting an award.

While most medication available in the U.S. can be found in Korea, some medications are not approved for use in Korea. This is because certain prescription medications are considered controlled substances in Korea. Thus, they are subject to the regulations established by the Korean Food and Drug Administration and the Korean Customs Service. Applicants who anticipate needing to manage a condition with prescription medication while in Korea should consult with their medical provider and make informed decisions before applying for or accepting an award. For more information, please refer to the webpage on medical assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

In general, domestic travel during the award period is unrestricted. Specific restrictions may apply if a grantee’s domestic travel plans impede the success of their grant (e.g., ETA grantees cannot travel when school is in session).

Fulbright S. Students are allowed a total of 14 days of personal leave to travel internationally during the award period. For master’s degree and ETA grantees, during the regular semester, personal absences outside of South Korea are not allowed. International travel should be reserved for during the summer and/or winter vacation between terms.

Fulbright U.S. Scholars are allowed a total of 7-14 days of personal leave, depending on their award period length, to travel internationally. Professional, grant-related absences for Scholars are, in theory, unlimited. However, as the purpose of the Scholar award to Korea is to participate in international cultural and educational exchange within Korea, extensive professional absences outside of Korea will not be allowed during the award period.

Everyone’s Fulbright experience in Korea is unique! For stories from alumni regarding their experiences, visit the “Alumni Stories” section of Fulbright Korea’s website. You can also find more perspectives and experiences through the Fulbright Korea Infusion at infusion.fulbright.or.kr.