Fulbright Application Essays: Personal Statement & Study Objective

Useful tips for writing impressive Fulbright application essays.

Based on years of experience with Fulbright applicants, the common question we hear from students is: What is the difference between the Fulbright Personal Statement and Study/Research Objective? Both of these are mandatory Fulbright application essays and must be submitted along with the Fulbright application. Also, bear in mind that both master’s and Ph.D. candidates need to submit both Fulbright application essays. These essays hold a lot of weightage in the other overall application.

Therefore, for the Fulbright aspirants of the 2020-21 cycle, we have written some major points to help you differential between the Fulbright personal statement and study objective. The points will provide you a basic understanding of what goes into the Fulbright application essays, what are differences between them, and how do they show the evaluation committee that you are the perfect candidate to earn a Fulbright scholarship to study in the USA on a fully-funded scholarship.

Fulbright Application Essays Prompts

Personal Statement Prompt

The USEFP provides guidance about writing the personal statement for Fulbright application in the following words:

This personal statement should be a narrative statement describing how you have achieved your current goals. It should not be a mere listing of facts. It should include information about your education, practical experience, special interests, and career plans. Describe any significant factors that have influenced your educational or professional development. Comment on the number of years of practical experience already completed in the field in which academic work will be done in the U.S. Do not mention specific U.S. universities at which you would like to study.

Fulbright Personal Statement Prompt

Study/Research Objective Prompt

For study/research objective, the prompt given by the Fulbright Commission is as follows:

Write a clear and detailed description of your study/research objectives, and give your reasons for wanting to pursue them. Be specific about your major field and your specialized interests within this field. Describe the kind of program you expect to undertake, and explain how your study plan fits in with your previous training and your future objectives. This statement is an essential part of your application and is required. Do not mention specific U.S. universities at which you would like to study.

Fulbright Study/Research Objective Prompt

What are the differences between Fulbright Personal Statement and Study Objective?

As evident from the prompts given by the application, personal statement and study objective shed light on different aspects of the applicant’s profile and shows the evaluation committee how the applicant is qualified for the Fulbright scholarship.

What are the key points of Fulbright Personal Statement?

The Fulbright personal statement is meant to shed light on the applicant’s personality, what drives them, what is their personal story, and perhaps what differentiates them from the pool of other qualified applicants. You should mention your specific circumstances which made you the person you are. any personal challenges, hardships whether they are due to any personal, financial, or family-related issues that you overcame to be successful in life. You may extend on a personal anecdote, a life-story, your inspirations in your personal statement. However, keep in mind that you must not convey any negative or pessimistic views in any of your Fulbright application essays. Be hopeful, audacious, and courageous.

The Fulbright Personal Statement should cover the following points:

  1. Who you are (your background, education/ family/ life experiences, or any other special circumstances). Focus on points that differentiate you from other candidates.
  2. Why you want to pursue this degree program through the Fulbright Scholarship. How would the Fulbright experience help you to grow as a person?
  3. Talk at length about passions in your Fulbright personal Statement. Your passion and enthusiasm would definitely be a positive factor in influencing the evaluation committee.
  4. Mention in your personal statement that how will you benefit Pakistan after coming back with the degree (kind of a brief action plan of what you intend to do in the long run).
  5. The personal statement should connect with your Study/Research Objective and should demonstrate practical steps that you intend to take.

Find a sample of Fulbright personal statement of a successful candidate here.

Fulbright Study/Research Objective Key Points

The Fulbright Study/research objective essay requires the applicant to write down what would they do if granted the scholarship on the Fulbright program, what research do want to carry out in graduate school. You should also link your previous academic, research, volunteer, or work experiences to your future. Show how your past experiences have prepared you to carry out the research degree you want to undertake through the scholarship. This is the most important part of which can impress the scholarship committee. Also, the last portion of your study/research objective should focus on your future plans. What you want to do after obtaining the degree. How the degree would help you in accomplishing your future dreams.

Fulbright Study Objective should have the following ingredients:

  1. What is your topic of interest (not the degree you want to do) and what research/ study you will do in this topic? Narrow down your research topic in an easy to understand language.
  2. Narrow down to the specific topic within that field, and what and why it interests you. You can quote some known professor/ researcher/ achiever who is from that field to show your depth of knowledge and aspiration towards this field
  3. The second portion of your Statement of Purpose/Research Objective should talk about the degree program you intend to take and what specifically will be your topic of interest in that discipline.
  4. In your Fulbright Study Objective, you also need to relate briefly to how your previous research/work experience relates to your intended research degree. This connects can be established through the volunteer/ paid work you have done during your undergraduate/graduate studies and other places.
  5. Lastly, you need to touch upon how this learning is essential for Pakistan. This demonstrates the need for a skill you plan to acquire. It can come in the form of a comparison or a reality check of whether that knowledge is missing in Pakistan or is it too expensive to acquire for an average Pakistani. 

Find a sample Fulbright study objective of a successful candidate here.

Tips on Writing Fulbright Application Essays

Finally, we present some useful tips on writing Fulbright application essays. Follow these tips to craft impressive Fulbright application essays i.e. Personal Statement and Study/Research Objective. These tips would help you in crafting an impressive scholarship essay.

  • Start early. It’s always useful to start your Fulbright application essays as soon as possible. Spare enough time to revise your essays thoroughly.
  • Get your essays reviewed from your family, friends, mentors, and teachers.
  • Looking for any grammatical, syntactical, or typing mistakes in your Fulbright application essays. There should be absolutely no linguistic mistakes in your SoP or Personal Statement.
  • Address the prompts of Fulbright application essays fully. You should cover all the points mentioned in the prompt (given at the start of this post)
  • Don’t try to use all the GRE words in your essays. Use clear, concise language in your Fulbright application essays.
  • Every sentence in your essays must serve a meaningful purpose; so avoid using vague statements, cliche or any references that might not be understood by the evaluation committee
  • Proofread your essays thoroughly and multiple times. Ask several of your friends to review your Fulbright application essays. Grammar and spelling mistakes will reflect poorly upon your level of effort.
  • Avoid too much overlap of your personal statement with Study/Research objective or any other parts of your Fulbright application
  • Address any gaps or weaknesses in your application or academic performance – turn them into a positive if you can. You can mention the reasons for your low GRE score or a B grade in any subject.


I hope you’ve liked our effort on the difference between Fulbright application essays and tips on writing effective personal statements and Study/Research objectives. You may want to read DAAD scholarships for graduate studies in Germany and Australia Awards scholarship.

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Muhammad Sarwar

Muhammad Sarwar is an Electrical Engineer by profession and a blogger by passion. He loves to teach and share knowledge. He's a Fulbright scholarship awardee. He reads books, play games, blogs and program in his spare time.

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