Fulbright Scholarships for Sierra Leone Students, 2018-2019


The Fulbright Program offers grants to qualified Sierra Leonean graduate students to study in the United States. Sierra Leonean scholars may apply to conduct post-doctoral research at U.S. institutions and are eligible for the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.

In addition, scholars are eligible for the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program. More than 1,800 new Foreign Fulbright Fellows enter U.S. academic programs each year. Foreign students apply for Fulbright Fellowships through the Fulbright Commission/Foundation or U.S. Embassy in their home countries.

About Fulbright Foreign Student Program

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program is a U.S. Department of State funded program that gives young professionals an opportunity to study for master’s degree in one of the many colleges in the United States. Program participants also get an understanding of U.S. society and values. Successful candidates are expected to return to Sierra Leone after their studies and contribute to the country’s education and public sector. The Fulbright Award is merit-based and highly competitive.

What you need to know about Fulbright Scholarships

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program brings citizens of other countries to the United States for Master’s degree at U.S. universities. The program has brought some of the world’s finest minds to U.S. campuses and offers program participants insight into U.S. society and values.

Many foreign Fulbright grantees are early-career professionals who will return to take leadership positions in their home countries, often working at universities or in government service.

Foreign Student Program Objectives

The scholarship operates on the principles of competition based on individual merit, without regard to the individual’s institutional affiliation, ethnicity, race, color or creed. The objective of the grant is to enable the recipient to pursue a particular field of study and contribute to the social and economic reconstruction and development of Sierra Leone.

We encourage grantees to participate and engage in non-academic activities within the US community in which they will be pursuing their studies.  Upon returning to Sierra Leone, Fulbrighters are expected to continue their role in building bridges of understanding, directly or indirectly, between the two countries through their professional and personal activities.

Fulbright Scholarships for Graduate Studies

The Public Affairs Office of the United States Embassy, Freetown offers scholarships for graduate studies in an American university for a maximum period of two years.  The Fulbright Scholarship program is designed for professionals with academic excellence, great leadership skills, civic spirit, and demonstrated dedication to public service.

Level/Field of study:

The scholarships are available for pursuing the postgraduate programme in all fields, with the exception of medicine; however, studies in related fields such as public health (theoretical research focus only) are permitted.

Candidates working in trade and economy, good governance, security, environmental, public administration fields are encouraged to apply.

Host Nationality:

The Fulbright Scholarship is hosted by institutions in the United States.

Eligible Nationality:

Scholarship is open to students who are citizens and resident of Sierra Leone

Scholarship Benefits:

The scholarships are granted on a yearly basis and renewal will be contingent upon successful academic performance of each grantee in the previous academic year. The scholarship covers the living costs of the grantee in the U.S., but does not cover the expenses of the grantee’s accompanying family members.

The Fulbright Scholarship Program provides the following benefits:

  • Assistance to the grantee in the identification of and application for admission to American Universities.
  • Costs of standardized tests required for admission at those universities.
  • Pre-departure Orientation.
  • Assistance in obtaining the J-1 visa (Exchange Program Visa).
  • Economy class round trip airline ticket.
  • Medical Insurance provided by the Government of the United States, which fulfills the minimum requirements established by the J-1 visa and by the Fulbright Program.
  • Living expenses, which vary depending on city of destination.
  • Pre-academic programs in the U.S.  The lengths of these programs vary between four days and eight weeks, and are held before the graduate study program begins.  These programs are designed to fit the needs of the course in which the grantee is accepted.

Scholarship Number:

The number of offers was not specified


The following criteria must be met in order for applicants to be eligible for the scholarship:
An applicant is eligible for the award of a scholarship in a year if, in that year, the applicant:

  1. Must be a Sierra Leonean citizen currently living in Sierra Leone
  2. Hold a minimum first degree (bachelor’s equivalent with excellent score)
  3. Must have at least five consecutive years professional experience
  4. Must demonstrate outstanding academic and English language competencies
  5. Must exceed Fulbright Program minimum score on TOEFL & GRE tests
  6. Must not have participated in the DV-lottery at the time of applying

Candidates will not be considered if: 

  • They have  received a Fulbright Scholarship previously.
  • They have dual citizenship (American and Sierra Leonean).
  • They have obtained an academic degree or a university diploma in the United States.
  • They have been admitted to an American university at the time of application to the program.
  • They are not living in Sierra Leone at the time of application. 
  • They have had long academic or professional experience in the U.S.

Fulbright Language Requirements

Fulbright candidates must meet the language requirements necessary for their proposed study, research or teaching assignment and adjustment to life in the host country. Fulbright candidates to the U.S. may be required to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS)scores with their application. U.S. student and scholar candidates may be required to submit a report completed by a language expert or instructor to verify their language skills.

Testing Requirements

Testing requirements vary by country and program. Therefore, candidates should consult the individual country pages for application and contact information. The local U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission may be able to suggest testing centers. Information on testing can also be found at EducationUSA advising centers.

In general, there are two types of tests that may be required:

Language Tests

Fulbright candidates must meet the language requirements necessary for their proposed study, research or teaching assignment and adjustment to life in the host country. Fulbright candidates to the U.S. may be required to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS)scores with their application. U.S. student and scholar candidates may be required to submit a report completed by a language expert or instructor to verify their language skills.

Admissions Tests

Candidates must meet the requirements of and be acceptable to the host institution. Fulbright candidates to the U.S. may be required to submit the results of tests, including GRE scores for graduate programs and GMAT scores for business programs, for admission to programs at U.S. colleges and universities.

Application Procedure:

  • The Fulbright Program for Foreign Students is administered by bi national Fulbright Commissions/Foundations or U.S. Embassies.
  • All Foreign Student Program applications are processed by these offices.

Step by step procedures To Apply for Fulbright Scholarship

The Fulbright Program’s application process is lengthy and rigorous, but prospective applicants are encouraged to consider carefully their intentions, goals, future plans and prospective projects before applying for a Fulbright grant.

  1.  Contact the Fulbright Program Adviser at your school to discuss the campus application process (pertains only to candidates applying through a U.S. institution).
  2.  Carefully review the program summary for the country to which you are applying.
  3.  Draft a Statement of Grant Purpose that is feasible and culturally appropriate for the country of application.
  4.  Identify a potential affiliation in the host country and make contact with an appropriate person there who might be able to serve as an adviser and who could write the Affiliation Letter for the Fulbright application. Provide the author of the affiliation letter with a copy of your Statement of Grant Purpose.
  5.  Draft a Personal Statement that provides the screening committee members with a fuller picture of who you are and what has motivated you to pursue this Fulbright opportunity.
  6.  Consult with professors and/or colleagues with background in the country to which you are applying or those who have expertise in the field of study of the proposed project.
  7.  Solicit critiques on the draft Statement of Grant Purpose from professors, advisers, mentors, colleagues, etc., and make revisions as appropriate.
  8.  Contact 3 individuals to write recommendations. These individuals should be those who can best speak to your ability to carry out the project being proposed. You should provide a copy of your Statement of Grant Purpose to each recommender.
  9.  For candidates submitting Foreign Language Evaluations: Contact the professor or other professional foreign language instructor who will complete the Foreign Language Evaluation form for the application.
  10.  Obtain transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended.

Before Submitting the Application

  1.  Make any necessary revisions based on feedback from the Campus Interview Committee (pertains only to candidates applying through a U.S. institution).
  2.  Check for typos—misspellings, capitalization errors, grammatical mistakes, etc.
  3.  Make sure that all of the required fields on the Biographical Data pages have been filled in, including the Project Title and Abstract of Proposal sections.
  4.  Check to make sure that the Statement of Grant Purpose, the Personal Statement, and the transcripts have been uploaded into the correct sections of the application.
  5.  Confirm that recommenders and language evaluators have submitted their documents.
  6.  Preview the completed application in the Embark system.
  7.  Print a copy of the application for your records.

You can begin the application by clicking on Online Application and get more details by clicking the Scholarship Link

Application Deadline:

Currently, Applications for the 2019-2020 Fulbright recruitment cycle are now closed. Please check back in July for the 2020-2021 recruitment cycle.

Applying for USA Student Visa

Generally, any visa applicant coming to the United States to attend an approved educational course of study requires a Student Visa.

In order to make sure that Sierra Leone continues to receive the benefits of the exchange program, U.S. visa requirements state that visitors under an exchange program return to and remain in Sierra Leone for a minimum period of two years after completion of their programs. The Commission will assist grantees in obtaining visas for their spouses and minor children, though the grantees are responsible for their living expenses.

Upon acceptance to a U.S. school the student plans to attend, the student will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Instructions on completing the SEVIS I-901 fee and associated signatures through the SEVIS system will be provided by the U.S. school.

Steps required to apply for a US Visa

If required to apply for a Visa to travel to the United States the process includes the following steps:

  1. Determine the type of Visa required to travel to the United States. Information about Visa types can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/all-visa-categories.html.
  2. Complete the online visa application form, DS-160. The DS-160 is a U.S. Government on-line form and can only be completed at https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC. Each applicant must complete this form before using any services on this website.
  3. Return to this website and complete the following application steps to schedule a Consular Section appointment:
    • Create a user account
    • Enter the DS-160 confirmation number for each applicant applying for a Visa
    • Pay the Nonimmigrant Visa (MRV) application fee(s)
    • Schedule a Consular Section appointment
  4. Attend the Consular Section appointment.

Note: Applicants of a certain age group or those who are renewing a previous U.S. visa may be eligible to apply for a visa without attending a Consular interview. Eligibility for the “Interview Waived” program will be determined as the applicant goes through the process of scheduling an appointment through this site. The determination will be made based on the answers provided to the qualifying criteria.

General Required Documents – For All Visa Types

The following documents are required for all visa types:

  1. Current Passport valid for travel to the United States. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements.)
  2. Passport containing the most recently issued U.S. Visa (if applicable).
  3. Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  4. Confirmation and Instructions page printed from this website
  5. One 5 x 5 cm (2 x 2 inches) color photo taken within the last 6 months. Further details regarding Department of State photo guidelines can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html.

If you are attending an appointment in person, you must bring original documents. If you are eligible to send your documents via courier, you must send your current valid passport and the prior passport containing the most recently issued U.S Visa (if applicable), as well as the DS-160 confirmation page and copies of any other supporting documents. Please see the section below for a list of supporting documents required for each visa type.

additional requested documents for an in-person interview may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
  • Your ability to pay all the costs of your trip.
  • Evidence of your employment and/or family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country.
  • If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all of the costs for your trip.

For more information, contact

U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone

U.S. Embassy Freetown
Southridge – Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Phone: +232 99 105 000

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