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Fulbright Reference Letters: Important Info & Samples

Find the important info and Fulbright reference letter samples.

The Fulbright application deadline is upon us. Over the years, the applicants have been hearing time and again that Fulbright reference letters are an important part of the overall application and is a mandatory requirement by the United States Education Foundation for Pakistan. Every single time you consult someone and seek an opinion on what elements constitute the major part of your application in terms of success, you will hear them tell you that reference letters carry a lot of weight. Especially when you are proceedings for an education abroad and that too, one that is sponsored by the State Department at the United States.

Are you applying to the Fulbright Scholarship this year? If so, do check out our previous post on steps you take before filling the Fulbright application. And here are a few things that you need to remember when finalizing your referees and Fulbright reference letters:

  1. Some referees might ask you to submit a sample of what you think that your Fulbright reference letters should include. It is a perfectly logical request and you can send them a draft  clearly mentioning what personal characteristics, habits, profile elements and past experiences you would like to have included in the reference letter. It is also helpful to divert the focus of the referee to the points that matter. It is always better than to have a reference letter in hand which bears little relevance to what the sponsors are looking for.
  2. For professional references, try to look for someone at a level higher than yours and it would be best if the person giving the reference has been your direct supervisor/boss at some point. It is normal practice that if you can manage, try to get the reference of a person from within your organisation that can speak of your professionalism and vouch for your dedication and that can even be the CEO.
  3. For an academic reference, again, it would be beneficial to get the reference from a person who can authoritatively vouch for your academic skills, research capabilities, willingness to learn; so on and so forth. If you can get it from your professor, that is good; if however you manage to get it from the head of department where your studied, that is awesome.
  4. For a personal reference, again the point to be stressed is that this person should be able to vouch for your over all skill set as a person. That means that this reference letter should positively comment on your overall portfolio; your communication and social skills, your ethics and willingness to make a change; and basically whatever else might help you secure the scholarship and win over your sponsors.

Attached below are some actual reference letters as a sample for the convenience of the candidates applying to this cycle of the Fulbright Scholarship.

Samples of Fulbright Reference Letters

Letter from Professional Referee

Here is the sample reference letter by a Professional referee.

I am pleased to write a letter of recommendation for _________________ currently working as Deputy Commissioner, Inland Revenue Service, Government of Pakistan in support of her application for Fulbright Scholarship. I have known her in professional capacity when she worked as part of my team for over three years and I have found her to be self disciplined, honest, conscientious and reliable. Her performance and attitude has been excellent throughout her employment.

She is intelligent and her approach towards problems is well thought out. She possesses excellent analytical skills and can handle complex issues with grace and ease. Her dedication and honesty towards work have been consistently exemplary. She has always demonstrated great administrative and leadership abilities throughout her career and has a very positive attitude. Her strong communication skills make her an effective communicator helping her putting across ideas very clearly both orally and
in written form. In addition, she has excellent power of observation, and has the ability to communicate and suggest changes.

Her strong motivation and commitment towards her work will help her perform well in the challenging PhD program and I am confident that she will successfully complete the program. She has a defined purpose and a strong sense of self. She knows what she wants to accomplish and the
proposed study would definitely help in furthering her skills and enhance her potential for future contribution in her field. Because of her good Intellectual ability, drive to take initiatives and succeed, I believe that she is a worthy candidate and I strongly recommend her for studies in US.

I hope that the information provided will be of assistance to you.

Letter from Personal Referee

Here is the sample reference letter by a personal referee.

It gives me pleasure to recommend one of the most impressive public sector professionals I have came across in many geographies I have worked. On our first meeting, I mistook her under-stated demeanor and over time found out a clear unwavering sense of self and resolve to do good. She is confident and has a solid sense of direction and purpose of her academic and professional career. That is why her academic and professional ursuits have been well thought-out and methodical.

Though I have been acquainted with Ms. ____________ for over a year through my work in social sector and public policy think tanks, I got to witness her professional acumen when we traveled to the US for the Eisenhower Fellowship as part of the Middle East South Asia cohort that included the two of us from Pakistan.

Given her special interest in the field of Public Policy, Economics and Taxation, her Eisenhower project focused on establishing the correlation between these important areas. Observing her diligence,hard work and presentations, I was impressed with her ability to clearly communicate complex ideas in oral and written forms. Ms. ___________ is well organized and has an extremely good instinct for identifying important issues to study and acknowledges the seriousness of research, no matter how detailed oriented it needs to be. More importantly, she is passionate about issue of taxation, which is critical for Pakistan, and is true in her mission to help fellow citizens through her work. Hers aims and objectives will be further propelled with the appropriate education opportunity in the US. I strongly endorse and believe that Fulbright will prepare her completing her endeavors in public policy arena.

Knowing her well, I can affirmatively state that she never ceases to learn. Her thirst for knowledge is an assurance that she will successfully tackle the challenges of a PhD and overcome the obstacles. Being part of the Deans Council for the Harvard Kennedy School as well as having an MPA/International Development, I know the challenges and that she is
fully capable for exigent studies. She takes initiative beyond her designation or role, forges her own path guided by her passion for intellectual success and strong team work.

Ms. __________ in addition to her academics, is also highly sociable which is a definite plus for the Fulbright Fellows community. During the fellowship she was helpful to other members of the cohort –organizing focus groups, facilitating co-curricular activities, sponsoring/facilitating social events, etc—and doing this effortlessly and selflessly. Ms. __________ has also been an active member of various charitable societies and initiatives and proved her creative skills apart from becoming a solid career civil servant.

She is eager to pursue higher studies and I am of the firm opinion that if given a chance she will prove herself as a capable student who can apply the acquired knowledge in Public Policy. She is an emerging global leader willing to utilize the local knowledge, local context that she has acquired and combine it with global quality educational exposure through Fulbright to become an agent of change in Pakistan. I strongly recommend her for the Fulbright Scholarship for PhD, as Pakistan needs successful public policy professionals who are academically rigorous and are practically inclined and embedded in the local set up.

I wish her success in her future pursuits. Should you need additional information, please feel free to contact me.

Academic Fulbright Reference Letter

Here is the sample reference letter by an academic referee.

This recommendation letter is in support of the application for the Fulbright Scholarship PhD for ________________. I have known Ms. ___________ for three years now. She studied a course on the Research Methodology with me while pursuing her MPhil (Government and Public Policy) degree in the Faculty of Contemporary Studies at the National Defense University
(NDU) Islamabad Pakistan.

Ms. __________ paid studious attention to the course requirements, participated in class discussions enthusiastically and completed all assignments promptly. Academically, she clearly established herself as an outstanding individual. Truth be told, she has been one of the best students at the university I have had the privilege to work with.

MPhil at NDU is primarily a research degree. As head of the department, I truly admired her whole hearted commitment to her studies despite work pressure. Ms. with a natural aptitude for scientific inquisitiveness formulated a research project for her thesis during her coursework at the university. I can proudly state that I supervised her final research on “Efficient Broadening of the Tax Base to Ensure Economic Equality in Pakistan”, the recommendations of which have now resulted in a Tax Amnesty and are soon to become part of the Finance Bill.

As an associate and a colleague, Ms. __________ has been a great joy to be around. Her subtle sense of humor, her endearing humanitarian instincts and her can-do approach to issues and problems of daily life have always been a source of assurance and comfort. It boggles one’s mind how a young person can have so much poise and self reliance. She inspired every constituency – faculty, staff, students, alumni – with her vision, energy and her will to make a difference.
Ms. ___________ credentials, experience and innate abilities make her an excellent candidate, indeed an asset, for admission in any graduate program of studies and scholarship award. Therefore, I highly recommend her candidature for this year’s Fulbright Scholarship Program.

The personal information of the candidate has been redacted for privacy. I do hope that these samples would prove helpful for the candidates and will give you an idea on how to draft your own letters. Please, bear in mind that these samples are provided for guidance only, do not copy from these sample Fulbright reference letters.

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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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