Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan
About Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan
A couple weeks back I requested my students and some nice people following me on Facebook and Google+ to submit their most important question regarding studying in U.S. Not to my surprise the questions revealed concerns regarding scholarships and funding options. They also revealed things related to what I regard as the ‘best’ Scholarship for studying in the U.S. – the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan.
Today I’ll answer questions around the Fulbright Scholarship for Pakistani students.
When it comes to educational scholarships for Pakistani aspirants, I have not yet seen a better and highly rewarding Scholarship than the Fulbright Pakistan reward. Fulbright Scholarship for Pakistan is a fully funded higher educational program given by the U.S. government through USEFP to deserving students in Pakistan. The U.S. funded Fulbright Scholarship for Pakistan is available to students who have an established educational or research record.
It is uncommon for Pakistani students to qualify for a USEFP Fulbright Scholarship without a good academic record. Students who do not have an established academic history generally will not be able to receive this exceptional reward.
I must tell you here that Pakistan has the world’s largest Fulbright program in the world. Therefore we must take full advantage of that and strive to apply for a free degree program in the United States – the most favored country for top quality higher education.
What are the Types of Fulbright Scholarships available to Pakistani students?
There are 6 types of Fulbright Scholarships for Pakistan. These scholarships cover all kinds of educational programs except clinical medicine and a Ph.D. in Business Administration.
- For Undergraduate Studies (Bachelors)
- For Graduate Studies (Masters or Ph.D.)
- For Post Doctorate Studies/Research
- For Teachers
- For Mid-career professionals
- For Working Professionals
Today I will focus on the Fulbright Scholarship for students in Pakistan for Graduate studies i.e. Masters or Ph.D.
Advantages of the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan
The benefits of Fulbright Scholarship for Pakistani students are many – it is aimed towards applicants who want to pursue a Masters or a Ph.D. degree in the U.S. for free and then return to Pakistan and serve this country. The Scholarship is extremely gracious and covers all expenses – from fees, books, air ticket, a fixed monthly income that is sufficient to cover food and accommodation expenses, health insurance and visa fees.
Disadvantages of the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan
There is one little disadvantage of a Fulbright Scholarship for Pakistani applicants. You have to return to Pakistan immediately after you are done with your degree program in the U.S. The reason that USEFP cites is that it is a cultural exchange program where students from Pakistan share their knowledge of Pakistan with their U.S. colleagues. On returning, Pakistani Fulbright students share their U.S. experiences with colleagues in Pakistan.
Personally I do not agree fully with this ideology. In my own experience a degree complemented with some work and professional experience is much more useful that just a degree. With some real practical experience in the U.S. and one can serve Pakistan in a far better and productive manner.
So if any one of you is looking to stay in the U.S. and work after they are done with their education, Fulbright Scholarship is not for you.
What is required to apply for Fulbright funding in Pakistan?
Essentially you need the following things if you are considering the Fulbright Scholarship program.
- GRE: The GRE general test is required.
- TOEFL: THE TOEFL is required only if you get selected for an interview.
- Letters of recommendation: 3 letters are required by people who know you professionally or academically.
- Personal statement: You must submit your study objectives in a coherent and cogent essay. Use my personal statement guidelines for Fulbright scholarship to help you write an excellent statement of purpose.
- 16/18 years of education: If you are applying for the Masters or Ph.D. program you need to have at least 16 or 18 years of formal education respectively.
- Work experience: Work/research/teaching experience is required if you are applying for the Ph.D. program.
- GMAT: It is required only if you have applied for an MBA degree and your prospective university needs it.
- GRE subject test: Again it is required only if the university to which you have applied has made it compulsory.
- Interview: An interview with the Fulbright committee in Pakistan is mandatory if your initial application gets shortlisted.
- You must be willing to return to Pakistan immediately after your degree completion.
What makes me eligible to apply for this Scholarship?
If you want to do a Masters then you must have at least a total of 16 years of formal education. This includes having a 4 year Bachelors degree or a 2 year Bachelors and 2 years Masters Degree from a recognized Pakistan university.
If you are planning to pursue a Ph.D., then in order to be eligible you must have a minimum of 18 years of education. This includes having a Masters degree or an M. Phil from an accredited Pakistani university.
Please note that this Scholarship is only meant for Pakistani nationals. Applicants with a dual U.S./Pakistan nationality cannot apply.
What makes you ineligible?
If you own dual nationality of Pakistan and America or have a parent, wife/husband or child who is a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. then you cannot apply for the Fulbright Scholarship.
Also if you have a pending application for immigration to any country or have already availed one Fulbright Scholarship from Pakistan you cannot apply to this program.
Do I need work experience to apply for this Scholarship?
If you are aiming for the Masters program then the answer is no, you do not need any work experience to apply for this Scholarship. In fact USEFP encourages fresh graduates to apply for Fulbright Scholarship.
However for the Ph.D. program USEFP prefers candidates with teaching or research experience in Pakistan.
What disciplines are not eligible for the Fulbright Scholarship in Pakistan?
Clinical medicine and PhD in Business Administration are not eligible under the Fulbright Graduate program.
Do I need to take the GRE exam in order to apply?
Yes. GRE is compulsory irrespective of your field of specialization. Moreover a 136 is the minimum score required on each section of the GRE.
Please note that this does not mean that if you have a 136 on the GRE you will get the Scholarship. Scoring above this makes you eligible to apply only.
In my experience the GRE score of admitted applicants depends on their individual field of study. But the better the score better will be your chances of making it through.
How important is the GRE score in the selection process for Fulbright Scholarship for Pakistani students?
Although Fulbright does not give any benchmarking numbers, I personally think that GRE is one of the most important factors for getting selected to the Fulbright program in Pakistan. The reason is simple: GRE provides common grounds for the evaluation of diverse applicants from Pakistan.
So for example, musicians, artists, engineers, MBA’s and students from many other fields apply to the Fulbright program from Pakistan. In order for the Fulbright committee to choose the brightest amongst these would require them to evaluate them on the same scale. GRE does exactly that. Therefore stress a lot on your GRE score especially if you have a poor GPA or prior education.
My university does not require me to take the GRE. Do I still need a GRE score?
Yes. GRE is a core requirement of USEFP for the Fulbright program in Pakistan. You have to take the GRE irrespective of the fact that your university or your program does not need it.
I am applying for MBA which requires GMAT, do I still need to give the GRE?
Yes. Although GMAT is required for admission to the MBA program, GRE is a Fulbright requirement and has to be given.
Is the GRE subject test required?
This is a good question and the answer is maybe. Of course the GRE general test is compulsory requirement. However the subject test is only required if the prospective university requires it. If it does not then you don’t need it.
I have heard TOEFL is required as well?
TOEFL is a Fulbright Scholarship requirement in Pakistan. However, you only need to give the TOEFL exam after you are shortlisted for an interview.
I gave the English exam in my O-levels and A-levels and got an A grade. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?
Yes, regardless of your background you need to take the TOEFL. Even if you have your previous education from a foreign country you still need to take the TOEFL exam once you are shortlisted for the Fulbright Scholarship in Pakistan.
Can IELTS be given in lieu of TOEFL?
No. IELTS is not accepted by the Fulbright program in Pakistan.
Do I need a bank statement to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan?
Since Fulbright is a financial reward or a Scholarship that provides a student with all the money and funds, it does not require an applicant to prove or show any financial status. Many students belonging to backward areas of Pakistan have been rewarded Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan in the past which clearly shows that the Scholarship is entirely based on merit rather than your financial status.
Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan requires a personal statement. How can I ensure I write a good personal statement and what should it include?
First of all – I have seen a lot of Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan applicants have their personal statements being written by someone else. This is not something you should do and I strictly prohibit any one doing that. In fact the Fulbright committee can easily catch you doing this and bar you from getting a Fulbright Scholarship in Pakistan. As the name suggests “personal” statement is something personal and you must write it yourself.
It must include the following:
- What are your reasons for studying in the U.S.?
- Why do you want to study/research in the field you are applying to?
You should write in detail about the above topics. In short a personal statement should contain convincing arguments and a cogent narration of your study objectives. In cases where students are switching their field of study, the personal statement becomes very crucial since you need to explain logically the reasons for doing so.
Is the Personal Statement an important part of the application?
For the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan – yes it is a very important part of the application. It is used not only in the selection process for the Fulbright Pakistan but also by universities in deciding whether or not to admit an applicant. Students around the world spend a great deal of time perfecting their personal statement which includes their study objectives. Since you will ultimately be competing against students from all over the globe for placement in a U.S. university, you must put a lot of effort into drawing up a perfect statement.
Regarding letters of recommendations, whom should I ask to write?
Please make sure that all 3 of your letters of recommendation are written by people who you’re your work and not those who know you personally. Only professional letters are accepted by Fulbright Pakistan and all personal ones are rejected.
Ask your professors, advisors, managers or other professionals who are familiar with your work. Moreover recommenders who have an international reputation will dramatically improve your chances of admission to Fulbright Scholarship in Pakistan – for example if you have a professor from MIT write you a letter will garner much more attention from the Fulbright committee than someone from a local university.
Make sure that at least one letter is written by someone who knows you academically.
How important are the letters of recommendations?
Letters of recommendation are required by every university in the U.S. and are a very important part of the application process. Letters of recommendation are a deciding factor in the Fulbright and university admission process mainly because it adds immense credibility to your application since someone reputed writes kudos for your work. Again I must point out here that no part of the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan can be ignored or weighed lightly. All of us must put in our best efforts to get the best letters from the best people who we have worked with.
Can I get admission to a university on my own and then ask Fulbright to give me a Scholarship?
No. In order to qualify for the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan you must make an application to the USEFP and they will find an appropriate university for you. They will apply to the universities that they think best suits you and your needs as per your personal statement. You can definitely state your preferences in your application, but there is no guarantee that you will be given those.
Is it necessary to return to Pakistan after the completion of the program?
Yes. Fulbright Scholarship in Pakistan requires you to return within 30 days after you are done with your program. You are required to then work for two years in Pakistan and share your experiences of U.S. with your colleagues. Fulbright Pakistan requires you to sign a bond that states such.
I want to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan 2013. What is the deadline for that?
Now here is a thing that many people are unaware of. In order to be eligible for Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan you must apply almost a year and a half prior to your departure date. So for instance if you want to go to U.S. in 2013 September then you must apply for Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan in 2012 May. The Fulbright only takes one batch every year and that group of students leaves for the U.S. in September following year. There are no early or delayed departures or admissions.
I want to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan in 2014. By when should I have my application fully ready?
Those students who plan to go on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2014 will make an application by May 2013. So you must have your application ready by then. Take your required exams like the GRE and TOEFL by March 2013 so that you have your official scores with you by the time you apply.
You can get more information about the Fulbright Scholarship Pakistan by visiting the official website of USEFP.