Bonderman Travel Fellowship

What are the selection criteria?

Sometimes the most ambiguous guidelines provide the most creative results. We are searching for applicants who are creative, curious, and open. We seek to identify students who demonstrate integrity, the capacity for vision and leadership, and potential for humane and effective participation in the global community. In your proposal please tell us where you want to go, and most importantly, why you want to go. 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.

How long do I have to travel for? Do I have to be gone for eight months?

You must travel for a minimum of eight months in at least six countries in two or more major regions of the world. While your official Bonderman travels must end at eight months, you are welcome to continue traveling for as long as the money lasts, even if that is well after that eighth months.

When do I have to leave by?

If awarded a Bonderman fellowship you can embark on your travels at any point between the time you are offered the award and June of the following calendar year (i.e., if awarded a fellowship in 2020 you must leave by June 30, 2021).

Can I break the travel up into smaller sessions as long as I travel for a total of 8 months?

No, this is to be a life-changing experience of total immersion in other places, peoples, and cultures and you cannot break it up into smaller sessions.

Do I have to travel by myself? Can I ever travel with someone else? What about a spouse/partner? Can two people apply together?

This is a solitary adventure that you must undertake alone. You can occasionally travel with other travelers, but you cannot take your spouse/partner/friend/child on your travels with you. You also should not travel in organized, group tour situations.

I am an international student studying at UW, can I apply?

No, applicants must hold US citizenship or permanent resident status to be eligible for this fellowship.

Can I use the fellowship to fund an internship for my degree program, take language classes, or research my ancestors?

No, this award is not to be used to fund research towards your degree, formal study at a foreign university, a reconnection with your family heritage, or travel under a formal organization. This is not a research fellowship, this is a personal journey.

Can I travel anywhere I want, or are there certain restrictions that come with the Bonderman Fellowship?

While we encourage you to be as imaginative as possible (and honest about your true desires) when creating your itinerary, we do follow the advisement of the United States Department of State and you are not allowed to travel to a handful of countries.  If you propose travel to a country with a high level of risk, we will ask about your plan to safely and successfully travel there and may not approve your travel there, even if we should award you a fellowship.

Are there areas of the world that are looked on more favorably by the selection committee?

Bonderman Fellowships are intended to introduce students to cultures, peoples, and areas of the world with which they are not familiar. Proposals to travel in areas of the world that an applicant is comfortable with and has significant experience in will not be considered as strong as those that challenge the applicant to stretch and learn new things about the world.

Am I required to have a theme?

No–absolutely not!  You are not required to have a theme to apply for a Bonderman Fellowship. It’s great if you have something that ties all your countries together, but if you want to travel to different places for different reasons, that is great as well!

I have lived overseas/gone on a study abroad program/traveled extensively. Does this help or hinder my application for a Bonderman Fellowship?

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Preference will be given to candidates without international travel experience, but that is not to say that some experience outside of the United States disqualifies you from consideration. We recognize that many applicants acquire international experience in their undergraduate, graduate, or professional roles these days; if, however, you have had an opportunity for extended engagement in various regions of the world we will want to know what that experience lacked that you think a Bonderman Fellowship would provide.

I see that I need to list references on the Bonderman application? Who should these references be and when will you contact them? Do they need to write a letter?

Your references should be people in a position to comment on your character, adaptability, reliability, and general qualifications to undertake a challenging and often solitary experience like the Bonderman. They should not be a family member or spouse/partner. They do not need to write a letter – if needed we will contact them by phone or email during the interview stage of the selection process.

Where do I find the application? Is it currently available?

The application for each cycle is usually made available during Autumn Quarter, and then closes after the deadline in Winter Quarter.  Please check the Apply page to see if the application is currently available.

I just heard about the application so I need a little more time to finish the application. Is it possible to turn in the application a little late?

No, the application deadline is final.

If I'm awarded the fellowship do I have to be enrolled when I use it?

No, you don’t have to be enrolled to use the fellowship, you can even use the fellowship after graduation.  You do have to be enrolled at the University of Washington at the time you apply (i.e., you must be enrolled in at least one credit in Winter quarter to be eligible to apply). Graduate and professional students: on leave status does not mean “enrolled.”

If I'm awarded the fellowship and don't use all the funds while traveling, what happens to the remainder of the money?

As long as you fulfill the obligations and responsibilities of the fellowship, then any funds remaining at the conclusion of your travels are yours to use as you wish. Should you fail to fulfill the requirements, you will need to return a portion of the funds.

Are there copies of previously successful proposals that I may study to improve my application?

No, but we have posted short summaries of previous proposals online. Keep in mind that not only do the Fellowship requirements constantly evolve, but each Bonderman fellow is completely unique and so are the proposals that got them to the interview stage. We encourage you to focus not on what has worked in the past, but on why you make a great candidate, why you are applying for the fellowship, why you chose these countries, and why the Bonderman experience is important to you right now.

When will I know if I will be interviewed? Will you tell me if I don't get an interview?

All applicants will be notified of whether or not they will move on to the interview stage of the selection process.  All applicants will be notified of their interview status between mid- and late-Winter Quarter.  Please do not contact us if you have not heard by the end of February.

I have 3.49 UW GPA at the start of Winter 2020 and I think I’ll do well in my classes this quarter - can I still apply?

No, you must have a 3.50 UW GPA at the start of the quarter.

I have a UW GPA below 3.50, but with my other/transfer credits I have a higher GPA - can I still apply?

No, you must have a UW GPA of 3.50 or greater at the start of Winter Quarter.

I am in the University Honors Program (Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors) / UW Tacoma’s Global Honors Program - does my UW GPA need to be 3.50 or higher to apply?

No, if you meet the other criteria outlined (senior credit, enrolled, etc) and are in good standing in your respective program, you are eligible to apply even if your UW GPA is below a 3.50.

I missed all the information sessions. Will you be holding more sessions or can I come talk to someone about this fellowship application.

If you have missed the information sessions please review the entire Bonderman Fellowship FAQ and the guidelines on the Apply page and let your imagination soar. If you still have questions you may contact us at