Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program Award

The 2019 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad competition is now open. This program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, provides grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries, in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months. Projects deepen research knowledge on and help the nation develop capability in areas of the world not generally included in U.S. curricula. Projects focusing on Western Europe are not supported. 

Important deadlines for all Penn State applicants

  • The intent to apply deadline is extended until Wednesday, February 27th, 2019.
  • The institutional deadline is Friday, March 15th, 2019. The institutional deadline is ahead of the federal deadline to allow project director to review information for all applicants. No exceptions will be made.


Students must apply through their institutions. To be eligible to receive a fellowship under the DDRA program, a student must:

  • be a citizen or national of the United States or is a permanent resident of the United States;
  • be a graduate student in good standing at an institution of higher education in the United States who, when the fellowship begins, is admitted to candidacy in a doctoral program in modern foreign languages and area studies at that institution;
  • be planning a teaching career in the United States upon graduation; and
  • possesses adequate skills in the language(s) necessary to carry out the dissertation project.

Students may not accept certain grants (Fulbright US Student Program [FUSP], Boren, IREX, Japan Foundation) in the same fiscal year that they receive a US/ED Fulbright-Hays grant. Student applicants who have received support for more than six months under the DDRA Program are not eligible to re-apply.

How to Apply

  • To indicate your intention to apply for the grant, complete and return the university application form to Penn State’s DDRA project director, . This should be done as soon as you have made the decision to apply for funding. The deadline for the intent to apply is Friday, February 15th, 2019.
  • Before you begin the federal application process, you should visit the Federal Register to access the official program announcement and application package details. The Department of Education's Notice Inviting Applications contains detailed instructions for the application (scroll down to the "Current Application" section). 
  • The online application is available at G5. You can also access detailed application instructions and a frequently asked questions database from the G5 site. The site is not available 24 hours a day, so be sure to check the hours of operation schedule on the G5 e-Application home page to avoid last-minute submission delays.
  • You will need to gather items such as transcripts, references, health statements, research permissions, letters of invitation from host institutions, and language proficiency evaluations, so it is important that you work on these items early. Be sure to share the institutional deadline for the submission of your materials with those individuals providing application support. Please be aware that e-mails to your references will be generated from the G5 e-Application system.
  • If your research involves human subjects, you will need to prepare a brief narrative describing the research. Instructions for this requirement are contained in the section IRB Information for Student Applicants, in the “Documents & Instructions” menu.

Terms and Conditions

The DDRA program supports research projects that focus on one or more of the following geographic areas: Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, South Asia, the Near East, Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and the Western Hemisphere (excluding the United States and its territories).

The following countries will not be funded for research by the DDRA Program: Angola, Burundi, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC/Kinshasa), Djibouti, Equatorial, Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, North Korea, Turkey (DDRA applicants can only apply to Ankara and Istanbul), Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Egypt*, Libya, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Oman*, Qatar*, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, West Bank, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan*, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

For countries marked with an *, contact ddra@ed.gov for updates.

Duration of the Grant

The institutional project period is 18 months, beginning October 1, 2019. Students may request funding for a period of no less than six months and no more than 12 months. During this time, a fellow shall:

  • Maintain satisfactory progress in the conduct of his or her research;
  • Devote full time to research on the approved topic;
  • Not engage in any gainful employment during the fellowship period; and
  • Remain a student in good standing at his or her institution.

Reporting Requirements

A final report is due from each fellow 30 days after the end of the grant period. Students should contact their institution’s project director for electronic reporting instructions. 

Expenses covered by the award include:

  • Travel expenses, including excess baggage to and from the residence of the fellow to the host country of research;
  • Maintenance and dependents allowances based on the cost of living in country(ies) of research for the fellow and his or her dependent(s);
  • Project allowance for research related expenses such as books, copying, tuition and affiliation fees, local travel and other incidental expenses; 
  • Health and accident insurance premiums; and
  • $100 administrative fee to applicant institution.

Helpful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions about DDRA

Can a student apply independently of his/her university?

  • No. Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education in the United States. The student's application must be submitted through the appropriate channels at his/her university, and transmitted to the U.S. Department of Education (US/ED) via G-5 by the university's Project Director.

How does a student find information about his/her Project Director?

  • A student should check the list of Project Directors included in the application package. If a university has submitted applications for DDRA funding before, chances are there is already an experienced Project Director appointed. If an institution does not appear on the list, it may be necessary for that university's administration to appoint a Project Director, and ensure that he/she registers in the G-5 system.

What is the role of the student's academic advisor?

  • The student's advisor will continue to serve as his/her mentor regarding the academic details of his/her research, and any changes to the student's research plans as proposed in the application will require the advisor's written approval. The advisor should not serve as the student's Project Director. There can be only one Project Director at an institution, and that person administers the grant and serves as the point of contact for all of that institution's fellows, regardless of research topic or discipline.

What is the process for completing the G5 application?

  • There are two primary sections to the G-5 application - the student's individual section and the Project Director section. When the student submits his/her application via the G5 system, it is transmitted to the Project Director. The Project Director is responsible for reviewing each student's individual application and submitting all student applications as a single form, including the required federal forms, to US/ED. Included in this submission are the graduate and language reference forms that were transmitted to the Project Director by the references. Only the Project Director can submit an application to US/ED.

When should a student submit his/her application?

  • The Project Director determines the internal deadline by which all sections of the application must be submitted. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the graduate and language references are submitted by references no later than the institution's internal deadline.

What is the difference between the institutional deadline and the official Federal Register Notice Inviting Applications (NIA)

  • The Project Director has the authority to determine the institutional deadline to ensure that he/she receives all of the components of the application before the official closing date in the Federal Register Notice. Student applicants must observe the institutional deadline in order to be eligible for the internal review process.

How will a student know that his/her Project Director has access to his/her application?

  • After the student submits his/her application via G-5, he/she will receive an e-mail notification stating that his/her application has been received by the Project Director. If he/she does not receive this e-mail, the student should contact the Help Desk immediately. The Project Director will be copied on the e-mail notification. Regardless, the student should contact the Project Director to let him/her know that he/she has submitted an application.

How does a student know that the Project Director has submitted his/her application to US/ED?

  • Only the Project Director will receive a notification e-mail once the application has been successfully transmitted to US/ED. The student will not receive a notification e-mail and must check with the Project Director to determine whether the application has been submitted.

Can transcripts be uploaded electronically, or must they be submitted in paper form?

  • Students must scan all transcripts and upload them into the G5 application system. Only one upload is allowed, so all transcripts must be scanned and combined into one document. Transcripts obtained electronically must have all security features disabled. Failure to disable all security features may result in the inability of the panel reviewers to access the document as part of the official application process.

Should student applicants include their undergraduate transcripts?

  • Yes, US/ED recommends that undergraduate transcripts are included to demonstrate the applicant's languages and area studies academic experience. Remember to combine the undergraduate and graduate transcript into one document with all security features disabled.

Should student applicants list their language and area studies course work in their CV.

  • Yes. A list of languages and area studies in the student's CV helps the panel reviewers to rate and score your academic qualifications and to determine if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements.

May a student apply for support to go to more than one country?

  • Yes, a student may propose research in multiple countries. Final award decisions for the project as a whole will be based on the project feasibility in each proposed country.

Even though the DDRA Program does not fund proposals that focus on Western European topics, may a student go to Western Europe to consult or research human or material resources on a non-Western European topic not available in the United States?

  • Yes.

Are U.S. citizens studying at foreign institutions eligible for the DDRA program?

  • No, eligible applicants are institutions of higher education in the United States.

How important are the page limit and formatting requirements cited in the Federal Register Notice Inviting Applications (NIA)?

  • Both are extremely important. If the student's application narrative exceeds the page limit, the application will be disqualified and will not be reviewed for funding. Likewise in regards to font type, size, and margins. Please adhere strictly to the page limit guidelines in the Federal Register NIA.

Should students include endnotes, footnotes or a bibliography? 

  • Endnotes, footnotes, or a bibliography will certainly strengthen an application. However, footnotes and endnotes will be subject to the page limit restrictions specified in the Federal Register NIA for the application narrative and bibliography.

What if a student proposes to use a much less commonly taught language and cannot find someone to evaluate him/her?

  • The student should call the IFLE program office at (202) 502-7700. They will assist students in finding qualified evaluators. The applicant should make every effort to find someone to evaluate their language proficiency. An application will be significantly less competitive if a language reference form is not included.

Should Letters of Affiliation from overseas host institutions or organizations be included in an application?

  • Yes, these letters are helpful to the panel in evaluating an application. Students must submit them electronically - as a single document - with their applications. If you are planning on conducting research in more than one location, you should collect a letter from each host institution.

Do the provisions of the "Fly America Act" apply to this program? Does it benefit a student’s application to request a lower amount, if he/she can find a cheaper non-U.S. carrier airfare?

  • All travel must comply with the Fly America Act. International travel budget estimates ought to be based on jet economy high season rates on U.S. Flag carriers where available. Reviewers do not evaluate a student's budget request as part of the application review process.

What if a student is planning to get married after he/she applies, or is expecting a baby? Is he/she eligible for a dependent’s allowance?

  • Availability of funds and the date of the marriage or birth will determine whether an allowance can be awarded.

What signatures are required for G-5?

  • No signatures are necessary for the student's application at the time of application submittal. However, signatures from a student's doctor/nurse practitioner and advisor may be requested at a later date.

Whom should the student contact in the event of technical problems with G-5 (e.g., problems pulling up a form)?

  • If the student experiences any technical difficulties, he/she should contact the G-5 Help Desk at 1-888-336-8930 (TTY: 1-866-697-2696; Local: 202-401-6238) Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Washington, D.C. (EST) time.

If the student has a question specific to the DDRA program (e.g., eligibility requirements), whom should he/she contact?

  • The first point of contact should be the Project Director.

When will students be notified whether or not they have been selected?

  • The review process for DDRA Program applications is lengthy and multi-faceted, so announcement times may vary. Regret letters are sent to the institutional applicant usually in February or March. Candidate status is announced usually in April and as late as September. It is the responsibility of the institution to inform students of their status. The US/ED does not inform students directly. Awards are issued between April and September.

When are fellowships activated?

  • A fellowship may be activated after a Grant Award Notification (GAN) has been issued; host country visa and research requirements have been met; human subject research clearance, if required, has been given by the student's institution; and travel approval has been obtained by the Project Director from US/ED. The GAN will specify the performance and budget periods. All research must be completed during these periods. The performance and budget period for SP 2019 fellows begins October 1, 2019.

If a student relocates after submitting his/her application, should he/she send address updates to US/ED?

  • No, students should provide that information to the Project Director.

May the university accept the award on a student’s behalf if the student is overseas during the notification period?

  • Yes, provided the student has not received a fellowship that duplicates the DDRA award benefits. The student should leave a letter with the Project Director authorizing him/her to accept the award on the student's behalf.

Must a student apply for his/her own visa and research clearance?

  • Yes.

May a student request copies of his/her application’s reviewers’ comments?

  • All reviewer comments will be mailed to the institution's Project Director at the time of the award notification. Students should contact the Project Director to request a copy.

Can I have two Fulbright Fellowships (i.e., DDRA and U.S. Department of State Fulbright US Student Program [FUSP]) at the same time?

  • No applicant may receive concurrently a grant from the Fulbright US Student Program and a grant from the Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program.

Can I accept a FUSP award and then pay back the program if I want to accept the DDRA award?

  • No. Once a candidate has accepted an award from the FUSP program and FUSP has expended funds on a student, he/she is then ineligible for a DDRA grant. For example, if a DDRA applicant accepts the FUSP grant and attends the Fulbright orientation, then the applicant is ineligible for the DDRA grant. An applicant to the DDRA program must indicate on his/her application to the program if he/she has currently applied for an FUSP grant. If, at any point, the candidate accepts the FUSP award prior to being notified of his/her status with the DDRA program, the candidate must notify the DDRA office immediately. If after consultation with the FUSP program we determine that FUSP has expended funds on the student (i.e., the candidate has attended the pre-departure orientation or was issued grant funds) the candidate will be deemed ineligible for the DDRA award at that time. 
  • Please note that this is a change in policy from previous years and there will be no flexibility on this issue. Likewise, it is understood that, should the candidate apply to both the FUSP and DDRA programs, he/she will be in similar communications with both offices on his/her status. If a DDRA applicant does not immediately notify the DDRA office of an FUSP status change, the DDRA program office reserves the right to determine this applicant ineligible for the DDRA program for future years, whether he/she has been recommended for funding or not.

If a student’s research project requires Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval what information needs to be provided in the DDRA application?

  • Student applicants submit a completed Human Subjects Narrative. IRB approval is not needed at the time of application; however, a narrative must be submitted to the Project Director for uploading into the final application. The instructions for completing the narrative are in the ED Supplemental Form to the SF 424.

Am I eligible to apply for a DDRA fellowship if my language of research is English or my heritage language?

  • Yes. Students whose language of research is English or their heritage language are eligible to apply for a DDRA fellowship. However, only applicants who are using languages other than English or a heritage language are eligible to receive points under the “Qualifications of the Applicant” section criterion #3. Applicants using English or their native language should review Item 3 under “Qualifications of the Applicant” on the technical review form. [Please see section on “Special Note on Language Acquisition” regarding language acquisition information for applicants.]

May I request funds for hotel, lodging or per diem expenses?

  • No. The maintenance amount awarded is based on the cities/regions and the research period spent in the approved area and should cover the lodging and other living expenses of the fellow. Therefore, DDRA funds will not be awarded for hotel stays nor for per diem expenses during the same research period when a maintenance allowance is awarded.

What if my research location is not approved for travel by the U.S. Department of State Fulbright Programs?

  • US/ED will not approve travel to countries for which the U.S. Department of State has strongly urged private American citizens to depart immediately for reasons of personal security (i.e., “ordered departure”), or suspended its Fulbright program for the same reason. US/ED will not approve travel to countries under an “authorized departure” where the Ambassador has specifically requested Fulbright fellows to leave for security or health reasons. For up-to-date information on travel warnings, please consult the U.S. Department of State travel warnings and consular information sheets at http://travel.state.gov/.

Do I need to provide official university IRB approval when I apply for the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad award?

  • No.  However, you are required to provide a narrative for your human subject research using form SF-424, but you do not need an official University IRB approval for the application.  If you are selected for the award, you will need to provide the IRB number as part of your travel request.

I am a permanent resident of the United States.  Can I return to the U.S. during my research travel to maintain my residency status and then resume my travel?

  • Yes.  The US/ED will work with the students on a case by case basis to allow the opportunity to return to the United States to maintain permanent residency.  Documentation will be required to show the legitimacy of the need to leave the research field, but it will be allowed under these circumstances.
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