Coronavirus Updates: Cornell is working with campus partners, as well as local and state resources, to protect the health and well-being of the Cornell community. Learn more ⟶

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad FAQ

About the Fulbright-Hays DDRA Program

How does the Fulbright-Hays DDRA differ from the Fulbright Student Program?

There are two critical differences that have implications for their appropriateness for your interests. The first are the differences in basic objectives; the DDRA objectives are to increase the number of PhD’s in the U.S. with a knowledge of one or more of the “lesser-taught” languages, and of the related countries or regions; The Fulbright Student Fellowship objectives are: to enhance cultural understanding between the U.S. and other countries, and to strengthen the Fellow’s academic/professional capabilities. 

The second critical difference is that the DDRA is an institutional grant to Cornell University, while the Fulbright Student Program provides a grant directly to the Fellow. As a result the applications differ significantly in form and content.

There is a third difference in that the DDRA provides significant support for the research activity, while the Fulbright Student Program does not.

How do the odds for success differ between the two programs?

Both programs are highly competitive, though much depends upon the country chosen. In the case of the DDRA, the odds are about 1/10 generally, but we (Cornell) have averaged about 1/4. However, there is a priority for the focus region. The Fulbright Student program average is approximately 1/6, with Cornell averaging about 1/4. The odds, however, are highly variable depending upon the country. The UK and Western Europe have relatively higher competition levels.

Is the DDRA program available for non-citizens?

Non-Us Citizens with Permanent Residence Status are eligible for the DDRA Award.

Is the program available for all countries?

No.  Most countries are eligible, with the exception of Western Europe, and those countries that are temporarily off-limits for political instability, a lack of personal safety for civilians travelling to those countries or when diplomatic ties with the United States have been severed.   If applicants submit applications that include potential research locations that are not eligible, i.e. “on suspension”, funding will not be provided, nor will their applications receive further consideration. The list of countries under suspension for 2016 are as follows:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Burundi
  • Central African Republic
  • Cuba
  • Marshall Islands – not open to DOS Fulbright as there are no PD officers or LE staff to provide support
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Gambia
  • Gaza
  • Haiti – should be discussed with us
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Micronesia --  not open to DOS Fulbright as there are no PD officers or LE staff to provide support
  • North Korea
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

Does Cornell help if eligibility problems develop while in the country?

Yes! The U.S. Embassy and the Fulbright Commission in the country will provide immediate assistance in the event of conditions that affect the personal safety of Fulbright Fellows. Cornell’s International Risk Management Policy provides details on assistance available. (



When should I start the application?

Email to discuss your application. 

When is Cornell’s deadline for the 2020 application?

The deadline for Cornell applicants is Monday, February 3, 2020. Interested applicants must contact the Einaudi Center at no later than Monday, January 6 to indicate intention to apply.


Do I need to have my proposal reviewed?

Yes. All proposals and budgets must be approved by project director, Professor David Holmberg. Proposals should be sent to 

What materials should I have in hand at the time of application?


Application form

Budget information (for each category)

Application Narrative (10 pages, maximum)

References (3)

CV (no prescribed length)

Bibliography (two pages, maximum)

Foreign Language Evaluation - One or more if relevant

Host Country Supporting Materials - Affiliation letter (on letterhead and Signed)

Application form

Budget information (for each category)

Application Narrative (10 pages, maximum)

References (3)

 CV (no prescribed length)

Bibliography (two pages, maximum)

Foreign Language Evaluation - One or more if relevant

Host Country Supporting Materials - Affiliation letter (on letterhead and Signed)

Transcripts -  All graduate school transcripts; undergraduate transcripts only if they contain courses relevant to language and/or area studies.



IRB Research Narrative – A WORD document submitted to for submission to the Department of Education by the university.  For exempt research, a half page statement of the rationale for exempt status. (Refer to the application package for areas to be covered in a non-exempt narrative.)

How should I start?

SEND AN E-MAIL TO: indicating your intent to apply; include your net id (only Cornell ids are acceptable), the name of your department and Chair of your Graduate Committee, and country to which you are applying.  

Complete the financial conflict of interest form when requested by the ORIA.

What is the Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Form?

Cornell University is required to ensure that all recipients of research and other funding from external sources disclose and potential conflicts of interest they may have related to the grant. Access to the FCOI form is obtained after you submit your net ID and departmental affiliation to

Do I have to pass my A-exam before applying?

No. However, you will have to have passed you’re A-exam before beginning the fellowship.

Can I get help in preparing the application?

YES!  Obviously, your Graduate Committee will provide the most help with the substance of your research, but Fulbright Advisor Professor David Holmberg is available to review drafts of your 10 page research narrative to offer suggestions for strengthening the presentation.  This opportunity is available by e-mail ( and/or by office appointment through the Fulbright Administrator (Tel: 607-255-8933). In either case, please have a copy of the proposal indicating the topic, country, length of the grant period, and proposed start date. In addition, the Fulbright Administrator can be helpful in guiding through the process.

Do I need the country visa before I start the application?

NO, but you must have it before you can implement your award. It is important to determine what type is required to carry out your research, and to start the process of obtaining the visa as early as possible. Many countries have specific requirements, some of which may take considerable time to satisfy. For example, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia have extended clearance processes that may take months. China may have additional clearance requirements at the Provincial level. You should also be aware that some topics may be considered politically “sensitive” and could be rejected. Making the appropriate contacts (e.g. the in-country Fulbright Commission) can help to avoid problematic situations and to minimize the time between the award notification and permissible start of the grant.

Do I need IRB clearance before I apply?

No. The IRB approval letter is not required, but the “IRB Research the Fulbright Narrative” (exempt or non-exempt) is required. This is not submitted on-line, but sent to Administrator for submission to the University.

Do I need a language evaluation before I start the application?

No, but a language evaluation will be required as part of the application. The impact of the evaluation will vary depending upon your background. Native speakers are those who used the language (of the research country) as a primary language at home; heritage language learners are those who used the language at home and/or received a K-12 education in the language of research; non-native speakers are those who learned the language outside of their home.  

Do I need a medical exam in order to apply?

NO. Enter the name of the last health care professional visited. When the award is made, provide a hard copy of a certificate from your doctor.

Is a formal in-country affiliation necessary?

While the specifics of affiliation will vary among the countries, almost invariably, some type of in-country affiliation (usually at a university or research facility) is required. Part of the rationale for this requirement is recognition that such affiliation will facilitate access to local expertise, library resources and field research sites. But, an additional reason is that it recognizes the contribution of the local country. Typically, evidence of affiliation is a signed letter on the institution’s letterhead. If it is not available at the time the application is to be submitted contact the Fulbright Administrator at the Einaudi Center about other options.

Are the application evaluation criteria available?

Yes. The evaluation criteria are available, with 60% of the overall score based upon the research program, 40% on your academic qualifications, and bonus points for research using the priority languages, and additional points if the research involves STEM fields. The specific criteria are available at the DOE website, and at the Einaudi Center.

Are there examples of successful applications to look at?

YES. Examples are available to review at the Einaudi Center. Visit the Center and check in at the reception desk.


Completing the Application

What is in the application package?

Look at it! The package gives clear instructions for completing each of the forms, as well as other information relating to the program.

How do I access the application?

When the application opens, go to the Department of Education website and follow the instructions. In responding as G5 user, do not use special characters (e.g. %,/) or foreign characters or symbols from a foreign language in completing any form. Some may be permissible in narratives and other documents.

How do I register my referees?

After you answer the first 12 questions, links to register the referees will appear. After the referees complete their information they should click “SUBMIT”. New referees cannot be entered after you SUBMIT your portion of the application. (to add or change, you will have to unsubmit the application

Is there a Government (G5) Help Desk?

Yes. It is available during normal working hours (M-F 8:00a.m- 6:00p.m e.s.t.). 

How rigid are the page limits?

They are rigid – exceeding the limits will result in rejection of the application. In addition to the page limits for the narrative and bibliographic references, there is a limit of 120 words for the Abstract.

What can be included in the budget?

This is a relatively generous grant that is intended to cover all of the necessary expenses for international travel, maintenance (including housing), for you and your legal dependents. In addition, it provides up to $6000 for research support. (Refer to the application package for specific guidelines)

Who are considered dependents?

Legally married spouse (heterosexual or same sex) and children. Proof of legal relationship must be provided when the grant is awarded. To qualify for dependent support, proof that the relationship existed prior to the submission of the application must be provided. However, for marriages (or births) that take place between the application date and the award, a certified copy of the marriage or birth certificate should be submitted to the Fulbright Administrator immediately. A request for funding will be submitted to the Department of Education, but there is no guarantee that the funding will be forthcoming.

Does the program cover health insurance?

Partially. The program will cover the health insurance for the Fellow, but not for the dependent(s). Quote the SHIP rate for the full period of your grant (the SHIP policy runs from August 17 for a year). Prorate the cost for the period you will be on the grant. (If the rate is not available for the grant period, add 10% to the most recent year.) It is recommended that you obtain coverage for your dependents.                                                              

Why do I have to fly on an American carrier?

It is a Congressional mandate through the FLY AMERICA ACT! Unless an American carrier, or a code-shared flight with an American flight number, does not fly to your destination you Must FLY AMERICA, even if a cheaper flight is available on another carrier.

Do I have to fly economy class even if the flight is a long one?

No, but you have to pay personally for any extra charge.

Do my dependent(s) have to fly at the same time as I do? 


How do I determine the maintenance allowance?

The Fulbright Hays Application package lists cities and their maintenance allowance. If your city is not listed, use the “other” value. (The maintenance may be adjusted if there are changes that occur after application submission.)

Can I take time out of country to attend a conference?

Only in exceptional circumstances, and then with the prior permission from the Department of Education program officer.

Absence from the research country without permission puts you in NON-Compliance, which can result in withdrawal of the Fellowship.

Should I include the airfare if I have to fly between my research sites?

If the sites are in different countries and the flight is international – it is included as a part of the international fare; if the sites are in the same country, the cost must be budgeted as part of the research expenses.

Can I include the cost of assistants in the budget?  


Can I include the cost of equipment in the budget?

Generally NO. You can include the cost of portable memory (flash disks, etc.), but not computers. Any equipment that has as life expectancy beyond the grant period is not permissible.  Where appropriate, rental of necessary equipment is acceptable