Letters of Invitation & Developing Contacts Abroad

What is an invitation letter?

A letter of invitation is an expression of interest from a host institution outside of the United States. Applicants include the letter of invitation with their application to the Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Some awards require letters of invitation; others prefer such letters; while some specifically ask that no contact be made with potential hosts. Consult the award and/or country program description in the Catalog of Awards for special instructions regarding letters of invitation and any other special instructions as to format, etc.

An explanation of the language in the Catalog of Awards:

  • "A letter of invitation is required" – An application will not be considered eligible until a letter of invitation is submitted.
  • "A letter of invitation is strongly preferred" – Applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain and submit a letter of invitation. Those without an invitation letter may be at a significant disadvantage during peer review.
  • "A letter of invitation is preferred" – Applicants are encouraged to obtain and submit a letter of invitation. Those without a letter may be at a disadvantage during peer review.
  • "A letter of invitation is optional" – Applicants are able to submit a letter of invitation. The letter of invitation or absence of a letter of invitation will have no impact during the peer review process.
  • "A letter of invitation should not be sought" – Applicants should not seek a letter of invitation

For awards where an invitation is applicable:
Once a host is identified, write to him/her directly. Include a copy of your curriculum vitae and a description of the activities you will want to pursue. The prospective host may wish to understand the expectations of hosting, and you are welcome to share this flyer to inform them.

If the contact agrees that there is a match between you and the host institution, you may request a letter of invitation from your contact. Be aware that anyone who provides an applicant an invitation letter cannot be a referee for the same applicant.

There are no specific requirements for such letters. The letter might include:

  • The activities for which you are being invited by the host (i.e., research at an institution, special lecturing needs, etc.)
  • The period of time for which you are invited
  • A description of the host’s interest in the applicant’s project and how it will benefit the host institutions.

A single institution is free to send letters of invitation to multiple candidates, so be aware that a letter is not a legally binding pledge, nor does it guarantee an applicant a grant.
Invitations submitted for awards should follow these guidelines:

  • Upload the invitation letter on the Attachments section of the online application. The file type may be Adobe PDF, JPEG or MS Word and the file size may not exceed 2MB.
  • If the letter is not in English, include an English translation of it, along with the original.
  • If an invitation is expected to arrive after the application deadline, consult the CIES program staff for your award.

Developing Contacts Abroad
If you do not have contacts in your country of interest, CIES has some recommendations:

  • Use the resources on your home campus:
    • The international office on your campus or its library
    • International students and faculty, as well as area studies faculty, on your campus who may know people in your discipline in other countries
    • Colleagues who have gone abroad
    • Contact current and former Fulbright Scholars.
       
  • The award description may list host institutions or even specific people to contact at the host institution. CIES program officers may have leads; contact the appropriate program officer for the country that interests you.
     
  • The international division of your professional organization may have information about the status of your discipline and the educational system in other countries, as well as names of people who could serve as contacts or direct you to others who could.
     
  • Area Studies Research Centers funded by Title VI of the Department of Education Professional journals in your field. Look for authors from the country you are interested in. 
     
  • Braintrack is an education index of over 8300 links to higher education institutions in 194 countries