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Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships

Written by Ben Taylor

If you’re an Indian PhD student currently studying a PhD at an institution in India, you could apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship to fund a placement of between six and nine months at a university in the USA.

This prestigious award provides a monthly stipend, visa support and much more. Our guide covers everything you need to know about eligibility and applications, as well as the other kinds of Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship on offer.

What are Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships?

Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships are part of the Fulbright Program, a scheme established in 1946 to improve study links and mutual understanding between the USA and the rest of the world. It’s now one of the biggest international exchange programmes in the world, with organisations in over 150 different countries.

The Indian branch of the Fulbright Program is administered by the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF). They offer a number of scholarships for Indian postgraduates (including the Fulbright-Nehru Masters Fellowship). This page focuses on the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship, named after Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

The Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship gives current India-based PhD students the chance to complete a six-to-nine-month placement at an American university. You’ll need to be undertaking research into one of the following areas:

  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Anthropology
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Education Policy and Planning
  • Energy Studies
  • Geography
  • History
  • Language and Literature
  • Materials Science (focusing on its environmental applications)
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Neurosciences
  • Performing Arts
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Sociology
  • Urban and Regional Planning (focusing on smart cities and waste management)
  • Visual Arts
  • Women’s and Gender Studies

Successful applicants to the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship scheme will receive the following benefits:

  • Monthly living stipend
  • J-1 visa support
  • Health insurance
  • Transport expenses to and from the USA
  • Research expenses
  • Enrolment fees (if applicable)

Please note that there isn’t any additional funding available for dependents or family members.

Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship eligibility

These are several main entry requirements applicants to the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship must fulfil. You’ll need to be:

  • Currently registered for a PhD at an Indian institution
  • Have a background of research in the subject area your placement is in
  • Planning to submit your PhD dissertation at least three months after the end of your doctoral placement in the USA

p>You’ll also need to satisfy a few other eligibility criteria in order to qualify for a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship:

  • 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

You can find out more about Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship entry requirements on the USIEF website.

How to apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship

Usually opening in March, applications for Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships are handled online, via the Institute for International Education (IIE). There are quite a few different documents you’ll need to submit during this first part of the process, including:

  • CV (no more than four pages long)
  • Academic transcripts
  • Graduate entry test and English language test results (if applicable)
  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your PhD registration certificate
  • Employer endorsement form (if applicable)
  • Three letters of recommendation

There’s another important part of any Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship application, which is the study plan and is comprised of three sections:

  • Study and research objectives, covering your specialism and how your PhD project relates to India and the USA (one or two pages long)
  • Personal statement (one or two pages long)
  • A writing sample (either a published paper or an extract from your Masters thesis of no more than 20 pages)

You should indicate three universities in the USA that you would like to undertake research at (in order of preference). If you’ve already received a letter of invitation from an institution (or if you’ve been in contact with a staff member), you should include this in your application too.

FNDR Applicant Annexure

As part of your application, you should also complete and submit an additional form known as the FNDR Applicant Annexure (PDF). This is where you’ll provide the name of your PhD thesis and the title of the project you want to undertake with the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship. You should also indicate when you expect to submit your thesis.

The FNDR Applicant Annexure also includes a field where you can explain how your research will benefit mutual understanding between the USA and India, as well as any extracurricular activities you intend on getting involved with.

Deadline for the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship

The deadline for submitting your application to the 2022-23 Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship is 15 July 2022.

What happens after you’ve applied for a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship?

After you’ve applied for a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship, a group of experts will meet in mid-August to review your application and begin the process of short-listing the most promising candidates. You’ll find out whether you’ve been short-listed in late September.

Interviews for short-listed candidates take place in early October. The selection process for this involves evaluating candidates based on criteria including:

  • Academic credentials
  • Their necessity of being in the USA to conduct research
  • The merit of their doctoral project
  • Leadership and communication skills

In late October, you’ll learn if you’re a principal or an alternate nominee. This is also when you’ll take the TOEFL English language exam.

In December, the USIEF will send the applications of its recommended candidates to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) for approval and placement.

You’ll find out if you’ve been successful the following March or April. Then you’ll head to the USA in August or September to begin your fellowship.

Other kinds of Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship

In addition to the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship, there are a couple of other Fulbright scholarship schemes for Indian research students: Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowships for Doctoral Research and Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.

Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowships for Doctoral Research

These fellowships work in a similar way to Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships, allowing current PhD students to complete a placement of between six and nine months at an American university in one of the following fields:

  • Agriculture
  • Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
  • Earth Sciences
  • Energy Studies
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Geology
  • Public Policy
  • Renewable Energy
  • Smart Cities

The benefits associated with a Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowship for Doctoral Research include:

  • J1 visa support
  • Monthly living stipend
  • Transport to and from the USA
  • Health and accident insurance

The deadline for 2023-34 Fulbright-Kalam awards is 15 September 2022. You can make your application online.

Please note that you can’t apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship and a Fulbright-Kalam Fellowship in the same academic year.

Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowships are aimed at Indian PhD graduates who have completed a doctorate in the past four years and are in the early stages of a career in research.

The fellowships last for between eight and 24 months and are available in the same subject areas as the Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships.

The deadline for applying for a 2023-24 Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is 15 July 2022. Learn more about Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.

Find out more about PhD study in the USA

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

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Last Updated: 28 March 2022