Letters of Invitations & Developing Contacts Abroad

Some awards require letters of invitation, especially for open “All Disciplines” awards. Others encourage 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. If the matter of preference is unclear, contact the appropriate CIES program staff.

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. 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:

  • Attach the invitation letter in PDF format or as a scanned JPEG image on the Attachments section of the online application.
  • If the letter is not in English, include an English translation of it, along with the original.
  • If an invitation arrives after the application deadline, consult the CIES program staff for your award.

Some countries require and others recommend letters of invitation. Please consult the Catalog of Awards to determine the requirements for your award.

Developing Contacts Abroad

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

  • Use the facilities of 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.
  • 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