At Which Universities do Fulbright Grantees Study?
This post was updated in April 2017 for the latest information on chances of securing the Fulbright 2018.
Every year after the Fulbright final university selections are completed I get comments and messages from applicants suspecting that the Ivy Leagues and the better public and private universities in the US do not get the any share of the feed of the Fulbright applicants from Pakistan. These pessimistic emails claim that it is a shame that Fulbright sends shiny Pakistani students to average programs in US. There is another common criticism against USEFP that top schools are actually underrepresented, because they are private and hence more expensive. And although the Fulbright people don't say that officially, their funds do have limitations. Money of course is a decisive factor for Fulbright but not the only factor.
While it is true that majority of the Fulbrighters do not end up in the top programs but it is not the Fulbright’s fault entirely - in fact it is mainly the applicants shortcomings that fail to get them into top programs in US. I will give some examples – an applicant from 2014 applied to 4 programs in the US through Fulbright: MIT, Stanford, SUNY, Georgia Tech. He got accepted to SUNY only and rejected by all others so naturally he went to SUNY. Now others would say that Fulbright sent this guy to SUNY and not to MIT but the truth is that he didn't get in MIT in the first place. Similarly another female student applied to Columbia, NYU, George Washington and Cornell through Fulbright – she got accepted to all 4 and was sent to Columbia, which is a very expensive IVY league school so that means cost is not the number 1 determinant factor. Another student got admitted by the graduate engineering programs at Purdue, George Washington and New York Institute of Technology but was sent to George Washington University though it wasn’t the cheapest of the three.
Fulbright applicants from Pakistan do get to choose the programs they want to apply to but do not get to pick the program or university eventually. USEFP and IIE make that decision for you but believe me Fulbright would never chose a below par program for competitive applicants. Fulbrighters have gone to top places such as Stanford, Columbia, Georgia Tech, MIT, Harvard etc. so it is pretty clear that Fulbright commission chooses where it sends your applications based on your preferences, your profile and your competitiveness.
Here are just some of the top universities to which Fulbright has sent its recent applicants.
• University of Chicago
• Texas A & M University
• Columbia University
• University of California
• University of Wisconsin-Madison
• SUNY Buffalo
• University of California, Berkeley
• John Hopkins
• Michigan State University
• University of Illinois at Chicago
• University of Texas at Austin
• Princeton University
• University of Pennsylvania
• Harvard University
• University of Maryland, College Park
• Stanford University
There is no “fixed” pool of universities that Fulbright sends it grantees to – the universities vary from year to year depending on applicant’s preferences and credentials. So do not take this data as a trend and don’t generalize too much on this. The only thing that should matter to you is that you should make every effort at improving your profile in order to apply for the Fulbright and that will work in your favor of going to a good program. If you – applicants with strong profiles do get to places of their choice eventually?