Bonderman Travel Fellowship


We are searching for applicants who are curious, open, and creative. We seek those who demonstrate self-knowledge, interpersonal and cross-cultural skills and interests, and resilience and fortitude. We look for proposals that balance challenging the applicant in new ways with careful planning and thoughtful engagement with those challenges. Bonderman Fellowships enable students to undertake independent international travel to explore, be open to the unexpected, and come to know the world in new ways.

The Bonderman selection committee will evaluate applications based on the following questions:

  • Does the applicant demonstrate self-knowledge, integrity, maturity, and commitment in their proposal?
  • Does the applicant indicate a desire and ability to travel independently for eight months?
  • Does the applicant show potential for thoughtful participation in the global community?
  • Does the applicant describe goals for personal growth in their proposal?
  • Is the itinerary feasible for the applicant?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate interpersonal and cross-cultural skills and interests, and resilience and fortitude?
  • Does the proposal balance challenging the applicant in new ways with careful planning and thoughtful engagement with those challenges?
  • Does the applicant have previous international experience? If so, how will the Bonderman travel experience be different than their previous experience(s)?


Writing matters – have a proofreader and a content editor/questioner.
We’re not evaluating you as a writer but the clarity of your writing helps us understand you and your motivations. Proofread your application and correct typos, errors, spelling mistakes, etc. Concise writing can be good writing, but use the length guidelines to fully answer all the prompts. Have someone who knows you read your application to help you think through if this is something you really want to do.

International travel can be hard – help us understand your ideas, skills, and thought processes.
We are interested in your thought process and coping skills and strategies, as how you describe these gives us insight into how you might handle the challenges that come with international travel. The specifics of your particular situation are not being judged or compared, nor do we want you to share anything that you are uncomfortable having a committee of people read.

Don’t rely on prior applications or let someone edit your voice out of your application.
We don’t want your ideas and desires to be obscured by someone else’s opinion or ideas. Think about what you want out of the Bonderman Fellowship, and what would be most meaningful to you.

Come to an info session! Contact us with questions! Don’t listen to rumors!
The Bonderman fellowship is unique and changes from year to year –  for that reason, it’s best to contact us directly with questions to make sure you are receiving accurate information. Even a past Bonderman Fellow might not be familiar with changes we’ve made for the year you are applying, so make sure you are getting the information you need to submit a strong application.

Get feedback from Bonderman Fellowship staff.
We don’t read and give specific feedback on individual applications, but we encourage you to come to an info session and follow up with questions related to your application – we are always eager to support your application, including through individual meetings to tease out nuances about your particular application. But make sure you schedule an individual meeting after you’ve attended a session and thorough read this website!

The selection process is not an algorithm.
It is nuanced, and holistic and we understand that the competitiveness of the fellowship can be frustrating. We turn down good applicants every year and know that all people could benefit from an opportunity to travel on a Bonderman fellowship.

This fellowship is not a reward for past achievements or good academics.
It is an opportunity to continue your education outside the structures of traditional schooling systems. The Bonderman fellowship should help you understand that there are different ways of knowing around the world that are as valid and important as the educational systems you are currently navigating. The Bonderman Fellowship is wonderful and amazing, and it is also hard work.