The 25 schools that have produced the most Fulbright Scholars over the past decade
In 1946, Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas proposed legislation that would forgive the war debts of any nation agreeing to take part in an educational exchange program with the United States. His goal was to promote peace and understanding among countries following the tumultuous years of World War II.
The idea resulted in the Fulbright Program, a scholarship project sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It awards money to students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists, and artists who wish to study, teach English, or conduct research abroad.
Originally, just four countries agreed to the plan—China, Burma, the Philippines, and Greece—but these days there are more than 160 countries participating in the bilateral exchange program. Each year, a committee awards 8,000 grants to highly qualified individuals who apply to either conduct research on a project of their own creation or in tandem with a pre-existing project, teach English and engage in local communities in their host country, or pursue higher education opportunities at a foreign university. These placements last anywhere from eight months to a year.
Since its inception, about 370,000 individuals have participated in the Fulbright program. In the United States, anyone can apply for a grant either through a college or university or as an at-large applicant. Generally speaking, individuals who choose to apply through an institution have better success. That being said, not all colleges are created equal.
Citing data published by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and The Chronicle for Higher Education, AdmissionSight identified the 25 colleges and universities that have produced the most Fulbright scholars between the 2011–2012 school year and the 2021–2022 school year. Students at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate level, as well as graduates, can apply for Fulbright fellowships. Totals for each institution include recipients at all levels of education. Enrollment statistics are based on Fall 2020 data, the most recent available from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Read on to see if your school is on the list.
#25. Cornell University
– Ithaca, New York
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 128 (#3 in New York)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 9 (14.8% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 14,743
– Graduate enrollment: 8,877
Since it began its Fulbright program in the 1940s, Cornell University has sent 500 recent graduates and graduate students around the globe. These individuals have traveled to more than 100 countries doing everything from studying Islamic finance in Senegal to researching court efficiency in Zambia to teaching English in Indonesia. The most popular Fulbright destinations for students at Cornell are in Asia, with countries in South America coming in at a close second.
#24. Pomona College
– Claremont, California
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 130 (#4 in California)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 5 (12.5% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 1,475
– Graduate enrollment: data not applicable
Pomona College is often regarded as one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the West, thanks to its extremely low acceptance rate. According to the school’s website, more than 50% of these highly qualified Pomona students work with faculty on research—a statistic that explains why the majority of its Fulbright recipients choose to work on research projects rather than study at a foreign university or teach English. Previous Pomona College Fulbright winners have traveled everywhere from Thailand to Denmark to Brazil.
#23. Columbia University
– New York City
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 135 (#2 in New York)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 21 (20.2% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 8,148
– Graduate enrollment: 21,987
Since 2004, Columbia University has maintained a spot on the list of top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Students Program. In a given year, the school sends out a fairly equal number of English teachers and researchers, with the occasional individual electing to study abroad. Countries that recipients have traveled to since 2020 include Romania, Kazakhstan, and South Korea.
#22. Williams College
– Williamstown, Massachusetts
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 136 (#4 in Massachusetts)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 12 (17.9% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 1,962
– Graduate enrollment: 25
According to Williams College press releases, in recent years most of the school’s Fulbright winners have taught English in countries as varied as Russia and Peru. The second-oldest college in Massachusetts, Williams has a notoriously low acceptance rate—8% for the class of 2025—meaning a person has a better chance of getting accepted to the Fulbright program, with an acceptance rate that hovers around 20%, than the school’s undergraduate program.
#21. Bates College
– Lewiston, Maine
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 138 (#2 in Maine)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 8 (11.4% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 1,876
– Graduate enrollment: data not applicable
In 2020, Bates College had two dozen Fulbright recipients—the most of any liberal arts college in U.S. history. The school credits its mentorship program and high study abroad rates, which are linked to foreign language levels, for producing so many grant winners.
#20. Duke University
– Durham, North Carolina
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 144 (#2 in North Carolina)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 10 (11.2% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 6,717
– Graduate enrollment: 9,455
The year 2021 marked Duke University’s 15th year on the top Fulbright producers list. The private university has an incredibly detailed application timeline on its website, which guides nearly 100 students each year through the complicated process and helps an average of 15–20 students win Fulbright grant money annually.
#19. Bowdoin College
– Brunswick, Maine
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 145 (#1 in Maine)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 15 (23.4% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 1,777
– Graduate enrollment: data not applicable
Bowdoin College received more Fulbright grants than any other institution in 2021. Like Bates College, Bowdoin credits its strong mentorship program with helping so many graduates secure the award. In 2021, the college saw its students traveling to far-flung locales like Iceland and Serbia.
#18. University of Southern California
– Los Angeles
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 153 (#3 in California)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 7 (10.1% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 19,786
– Graduate enrollment: 26,501
One of the best schools in California for producing Fulbright recipients, the University of Southern California has spent nine years on this top-producers list. Graduates who apply to the program through this institution have access to mock interviews, pre-submission essay reviews, and frequent information sessions with Fulbright alumni who generously share their firsthand knowledge with prospective applicants.
#17. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
– Chapel Hill, North Carolina
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 154 (#1 in North Carolina)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 7 (8.3% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 19,395
– Graduate enrollment: 10,697
Since 1949, students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been offered 414 Fulbright grants. The winners, who are pretty evenly split in their intentions to either conduct research or teach English, go to a number of unique countries like Senegal and Tajikistan.
#16. Pitzer College
– Claremont, California
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 159 (#2 in California)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 5 (9.1% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 922
– Graduate enrollment: data not applicable
For six years in a row, from 2010 to 2015, Pitzer College was the top producer of Fulbright winners among all undergraduate institutions. Since the school began its program in 1990, more than 250 graduates have won grants for research and teaching English, heading to destinations like Panama and Greenland.
#15. New York University
– New York City
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 164 (#1 in New York)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 16 (11.6% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 27,444
– Graduate enrollment: 25,331
As seen time and again, the schools that produce the most Fulbright winners are typically the ones that offer applicants the most support. New York University understands this and has constructed an entire team at its career center that is dedicated to helping its highly qualified students perfect their applications and proposals. Recent winners have headed to Romania, Spain, and Malaysia for their years abroad.
#14. Boston College
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 168 (#3 in Massachusetts)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 14 (21.5% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 9,780
– Graduate enrollment: 5,154
Between 2009 and 2020, Boston College students won 171 Fulbright grants, which the school called a “team effort.” It credited its unique combination of advisors, highly knowledgeable professors, the Fellowship Office, and the students’ “willingness … to put themselves forward” as the award-winning combination. Past Boston College Fulbright awardees have ventured to places as varied as the Dominican Republic and Kyrgyzstan.
#13. Johns Hopkins University
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 169 (#1 in Maryland)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 15 (22.4% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 6,331
– Graduate enrollment: 22,559
In 2021, Johns Hopkins University had the third-highest rate of Fulbright winners out of all eligible research universities, with 22 of its 49 applicants having been awarded grants. Over the past decade, the school has sent winners to six continents and more than 50 countries, doing everything from HIV vaccine research in Spain to teaching English in Malaysia to pursuing a master’s degree in the United Kingdom.
#12. Smith College
– Northampton, Massachusetts
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 171 (#2 in Massachusetts)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 7 (30.4% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 2,183
– Graduate enrollment: 321
Smith College reports that in the past five years a whopping 51% of its applicants have received Fulbright grants, and nearly 80% have reached the semi-finalist stage. Over the past 20 years, the school’s applicants have won nearly 300 grants and have traveled to half of the program’s 160 participant countries to conduct their research, teach English, or pursue advanced degrees.
#11. Stanford University
– Stanford, California
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 197 (#1 in California)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 21 (26.3% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 6,366
– Graduate enrollment: 9,587
Stanford University has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the country—5% according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges listing—meaning that it’s incredibly selective in the students it admits. It makes sense, then, that its highly qualified, motivated, and ambitious students would fare well when it comes to winning competitive Fulbright grants—after all, the two organizations are likely looking for the same qualities and achievements. The most recent class of Stanford Fulbright winners went to places like the Netherlands to research artificial muscles and to Japan to translate the works of a poet.
#10. University of Pennsylvania
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 200 (#1 in Pennsylvania)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 19 (15.1% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 11,155
– Graduate enrollment: 15,397
Fulbright hopefuls at the University of Pennsylvania spend about five months on their applications, from the first information session to final submissions. The intensive process includes several helpful aspects including the opportunity to have essay drafts reviewed to application material feedback sessions with professionals in the field. The hard work pays off for many who are willing to stick the process out.
#9. University of Notre Dame
– Notre Dame, Indiana
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 201 (#1 in Indiana)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 26 (23.9% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 8,874
– Graduate enrollment: 3,935
As of 2022, the University of Notre Dame has spent eight years on the list of schools that produce the most Fulbright recipients. For the 2021–2022 school year, Notre Dame had the second-most Fulbright winners of any research institution and was second overall for students and alumni receiving grant money. These highly qualified individuals did everything from teaching English in Slovakia to conducting research in Germany.
#8. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
– Ann Arbor, Michigan
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 223 (#1 in Michigan)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 18 (17.6% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 31,329
– Graduate enrollment: 16,578
Among the top 10 Fulbright winner-producing schools, nearly all are private institutions. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is the sole exception. The number of grants awarded to the university during the 2021–2022 academic year is an extraordinarily high number by any standard, but it is even more impressive when you consider the difference in factors such as funding.
#7. Yale University
– New Haven, Connecticut
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 237 (#1 in Connecticut)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 21 (23.1% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 4,703
– Graduate enrollment: 7,357
An impressive 100 Yale students won Fulbright grants in the five-year span between 2016 and 2021. The school’s success in helping individuals secure their grants has driven an increase in applicants—between 2020 and 2021 the number went up by 40%—as well as an improvement in the institution’s mentorship and application assistance programs.
#6. Northwestern University
– Evanston, Illinois
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 255 (#2 in Illinois)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 17 (15% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 8,559
– Graduate enrollment: 14,044
At Northwestern University, the Office of Fellowships is responsible for administering the college’s Fulbright program. Since 2005, Northwestern has been a top Fulbright-winning college, sending graduate students and alumni off to do everything from collecting stories on climate resilience in Taiwan to documenting Syrian refugee stories in Germany.
#5. Princeton University
– Princeton, New Jersey
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 257 (#1 in New Jersey)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 22 (17.3% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 4,774
– Graduate enrollment: 3,079
Princeton’s Office of International Programs’ Fellowship Advising unit helps its students navigate the Fulbright competition. A 1967 Fulbright awardee, Ruth Simmons was the first Black American woman to become head of a university and the first Black president of an Ivy League university, among other achievements. Throughout her career, Simmons held multiple positions at Princeton starting in 1983, including vice provost.
In a commencement speech she delivered for Princeton’s Class of 2021, Simmons said: “I was unschooled in how to navigate change, and Princeton gave me time to develop a style of engagement that worked for me. Most of all, I came to Princeton wanting to hide away in its tree-lined streets, and Princeton threw me into the world to enact change.”
#4. Georgetown University
– Washington D.C.
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 264 (#1 in District of Columbia)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 26 (15.9% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 7,357
– Graduate enrollment: 12,014
From 2019 to 2021, Georgetown University produced more Fulbright winners than any other institution in the United States. Since its inception, nearly 500 of Georgetown’s graduate students and alumni have won the award.
#3. University of Chicago
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 270 (#1 in Illinois)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 18 (24.0% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 7,056
– Graduate enrollment: 10,778
Each year the University of Chicago puts together a Fulbright cohort. This cohort, which includes the college’s most competitive candidates, is given access to group workshops, individual advising, draft review, and general application support throughout the entire process, ensuring prospective winners are approaching the Fulbright committee as well prepared as possible.
#2. Brown University
– Providence, Rhode Island
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 301 (#1 in Rhode Island)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 29 (16.6% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 6,792
– Graduate enrollment: 3,156
In 2021, Brown University took the title of top Fulbright winner-producer from Georgetown University. The achievement marked the fourth time the university has held the top spot, and in 2021–2022 it sent affiliated individuals everywhere from Trinidad and Tobago to Uzbekistan.
#1. Harvard University
– Cambridge, Massachusetts
– Grants awarded since 2011–2012: 311 (#1 in Massachusetts)
– Grants awarded 2021–2022: 26 (25.5% acceptance rate)
– Undergraduate enrollment: 8,527
– Graduate enrollment: 21,864
Although Harvard University has had the most Fulbright winners in all, it often comes in second place, in terms of awards won in a single year, to other ivy league schools like Brown, Princeton, and Yale. However, its overall place in the standings isn’t a concern for the oldest college in the nation, as many Harvard students actually turn down their Fulbright offers for more prestigious grants and fellowship offers.