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Northwestern Ranks First in Fulbright Students

Northwestern's 32 Fulbright scholars are pursuing studies around the world

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October 21, 2009 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University produced the highest number of U.S. Fulbright students this year -- 32, according to a recent announcement highlighted in the Oct. 19 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Both undergraduate and graduate Northwestern students along with the other American Fulbright students -- 1,559 in all -- recently took off or soon will leave to study, teach English and conduct research in more than 100 different fields in more than 125 countries.   

Colleges and universities listed as the top U.S. producers of 2009-2010 U.S. Fulbright scholars were grouped according to type. Northwestern was first overall and first in the grouping of 38 research institutions. In terms of yield, Northwestern (32 awards, 109 applicants) ranked higher than University of Chicago (number two, with 31 awards and 128 applicants) and Brown University (number three, with 29 awards and 106 applicants). Go to the Fulbright feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

"Northwestern Fulbright students came from every school of the University, excelling across the board," said Stephen Hill, associate director, Office of Fellowships at Northwestern. "Last year, seven of our Fulbright applicants were selected for significant British scholarships -- Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Gates, Churchill -- before they even were considered for the Fulbrights."

Fubright applicants won two of only 14 scholarships awarded by the Winston Churchill Foundation in 2008-09. See the related story on Northwestern students who received Rhodes scholarships

"Among this year's Fulbrights, we have a chemist going to the United Kingdom, a historian to France, a journalist to Slovenia, a creative writer to Mexico, a bassoonist to Germany, a theater studies student to Panama, a biologist to Brazil and a student of theology to Israel," Hill said.

The Fulbright program is the premier U.S. government-sponsored program that funds international research and exchange. Since its inception in 1946, the program has provided approximately 294,000 participants worldwide with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas and embark on joint ventures.

"Having a Fulbright scholarship on your resume is a significant factor in the advancement of an academic career," Hill said. Getting a Fulbright, he emphasized, is more doable goal than many imagine. "What students need, besides a relatively high GPA, is passion and drive," he said. "And they need to be very committed to what they want to do." 

Northwestern students should start looking for informational workshops in January when the Fulbright season begins, Hill advised.

The applicant pool for Fulbright scholarships is typically between 6,000 and 7,000 a year.

Students receiving awards for this academic year applied through 570 colleges or universities. Lists of Fulbright recipients are available at www.fulbrightonline.org/us.

The Fulbright program also awards grants to American teachers and faculty to do research, lecture and teach overseas.  In addition, some 3,850 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, carry out research and lecture at U.S. universities, colleges and secondary schools.

Find all of the latest news on Northwestern at the NewsCenter.