11 tips to help you win the Humphrey Fellowship

Besides professional enhancement, accomplished fellows from diverse fields are placed in 16 American universities.

Hasan Naser October 27, 2015
The Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship is a lifetime opportunity for any mid-career professional looking to hone their skills. It also prepares them for leadership roles in their respective fields. The fellowship is tailor-made for professionals as it provides them with great exposure to professional development activities, such as field trips, workshops, seminars and one-on-one appointments with the experts in the field.

Besides professional enhancement, accomplished fellows from diverse fields are brought and placed in 16 American universities.

With every passing year, the number of fellows from Pakistan keeps growing. Ten to 20 fellows from all walks of life are sent to the US each year to enrich their professional experience. Even colleagues from India envy Pakistani fellows, since there are only four to six Indians who are given this rare chance.

To work for renowned news organisations such as Al-Jazeera TVAssociated PressThe Christian Science MonitorCNNInternational Centre for JournalistsThe New York TimesThe Washington PostVoice of America etc. are dream jobs for many journalists across the world. As a Humphrey fellow, I’m also excited to work for one of the news outlets listed above.

However, the million dollar question is, how do you get yourself selected for a prestigious program such as Humphrey?

To tell you the truth, it is no rocket science and there is no hard and fast rule to be considered for the fellowship. The following tips could be useful for potential fellows.

1. Read the instructions

First of all, you need to read the instructions carefully, especially the criteria laid out for the Humphrey Fellowship. It clearly states that the fellowship departs from discipline-oriented programs and is tailored for professional enhancement.  But many apply without understanding the nature of the program.

2. Never give up

You have to keep trying till you succeed in getting yourself shortlisted for the interview. Given the long application process, it can be exhausting and time-consuming, but that is how it works. I was shortlisted for Humphrey in 2011, but could not make it amongst the finalists and it took me a wait of another four years to be selected.

3. Be clear

Clarity will help you in a big way. You have to be clear in your vision and goals as well as state them accurately. This will only be possible if you are sure about what you want to achieve by securing the fellowship.

4. Talk to a former fellow

It is extremely useful to talk to a former fellow(s), because they have been through the same process. They understand the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ regarding the selection panel. Their insight could assist you in the right direction which can make the improbable happen.

5. Exchange aspect

The exchange aspect should also be kept in mind while filling out the application. You will be given a lifetime opportunity to experience the culture and lifestyle of American people. It helps to shatter myths and misconceptions, such as the Americans love for fast food.

6. Keep it simple

Do not focus on the quantity of writing; rather keep the substance and quality in mind. Write to the point instead of writing a novel.

7. Networking opportunity

The Humphrey Fellowship is all about networking with your counterparts in the US and gain insight from their best practices. Besides acquiring the latest skills in your field, you also hold the opportunity to network with your counterparts. They can be of great source for collaboration in the future as well.

8. Leadership promise

Like any other fellowship, it is the leadership promise you should strive to demonstrate in your application form. If you have a clear plan of action for the next five years, you are all set to steal the attention of the selection panel.

9. How does your country benefit?

It is imperative to define how this fellowship is going to contribute to the development of your country. The US government spends approximately $60 000 to $70 000 on each fellow selected for Humphrey. This investment is not meant for advancing the individuals career alone, but playing their role in the development of their country, specifically when they return home from the fellowship.

10. Reference Letters

Anyone familiar with the US education system understands the value of reference letters for admission to any US university. Therefore, choose someone who has the exposure and experience of writing recommendation letters. It is also important to note that your referee should be someone who is willing to spare time to write your letter.

11. Community work

Community work is part of the American culture. Americans highly encourage and appreciate if you engage in community work. It also helps you contribute to the wellbeing of your own community.

By contributing in terms of community service to the US society, culture and professional activities, the Humphrey program provides the basis for a lasting relationship between Americans and their overseas counterparts.

I wish you best of luck for the upcoming year.
Hasan Naser The writer is a freelance journalist who reports on health, climate change, and national affairs. He has also worked as a broadcast reporter with leading news channels. Currently, he is a Fulbright/ Humphrey Fellow at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. He tweets as @HasanQau
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

Facebook Conversations


Mariyam | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend Thanks you Hasan for the informative article. Based on your experience, would you like to shed some light on this one particular question? Describe the type of Humphrey program you would like to design. Does this program has to benefit my institution in Pakistan or the American Institutes? I am an English teacher by profession and the Humphrey discipline I qualify for is Teaching of English as a Foreign language. Any help is welcome! Regards Mariyam
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ