The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is a critical initiative that provides financial aid to U.S. undergraduate students who wish to pursue academic studies or internships abroad. The program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, is aimed at broadening the student population that engages in international educational experiences and fostering mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries.

History and Purpose of the Gilman Scholarship

where we delve into the enriching world of international education and the transformative opportunities it presents. Today, we shine a spotlight on a remarkable initiative, The Gilman Scholarship Program dedicated to fostering cross-cultural exchange and empowering students worldwide.


The Gilman Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is a beacon of hope for aspiring global citizens. It provides funding for undergraduate students, particularly those with financial need, to pursue academic endeavors abroad. Named after the late Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, this prestigious scholarship aims to make studying and interning abroad more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

At its core, The Gilman Scholarship Program embodies the belief that international experiences are not just a privilege for the few but a transformative opportunity for all. By supporting students in their pursuit of overseas education, it fosters greater understanding, tolerance, and collaboration across borders.

In this blog series, we will explore the impact of The Gilman Scholarship Program on the lives of international students, from broadening their academic horizons to nurturing personal growth and intercultural competence. We’ll hear inspiring stories of resilience, curiosity, and cross-cultural exchange, showcasing the profound effect that studying abroad can have on individuals and communities alike.

Study Abroad Programs:

  • Semester and Academic Year: The Gilman Scholarship provides funding for undergraduate students to study abroad for a semester or academic year, immersing themselves in a foreign culture while earning academic credits.
  • Summer Programs: Students can also apply for scholarships to participate in summer study abroad programs, ranging from language intensives to specialized courses in various disciplines.

Internship Programs:

  • International internships offer valuable hands-on experience in a global setting. The Gilman Scholarship supports students in securing internships abroad, providing financial assistance to cover expenses such as travel, housing, and living costs.

Virtual Programs:

  • In response to the evolving landscape of education, the Gilman Scholarship Program now includes virtual options, allowing students to engage in online courses, virtual internships, and remote research opportunities with international partners.

Critical Need Language Awards:

  • Recognizing the importance of language proficiency in a globalized world, the Gilman Scholarship offers additional funding for students studying critical need languages during their international experiences. These languages include Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and many others vital for diplomacy, national security, and global communication.

Special Initiatives:

  • The Gilman-McCain Scholarship, specifically for children of active-duty military personnel, provides funding for study or internships abroad, honoring Senator John McCain’s commitment to international exchange and service.

The Gilman Scholarship Program offers a diverse range of academic programs tailored to meet the needs and interests of students aspiring to study or intern abroad. Whether embarking on a semester-long immersion, pursuing a summer internship, or engaging in virtual learning opportunities, the Gilman Scholarship opens doors to transformative educational experiences that shape future leaders and global citizens.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for The Gilman Scholarship Program are designed to ensure that it reaches a diverse range of students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to study or intern abroad. Here are the key eligibility:

  • United States Citizenship: Applicants must be United States citizens at the time of application.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Applicants must be enrolled as an undergraduate student in a U.S. accredited college or university at the time of application.
  • Pell Grant Recipient: Applicants must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant at the time of application or during the term of their study abroad program or internship.
  • Study Abroad or Internship Program: Applicants must be applying to or accepted into a credit-bearing study abroad program or internship that is at least three weeks (21 days) long in a single country. The program must be eligible for academic credit at the student’s home institution.
  • Credit Transfer: The study abroad program or internship must be eligible for credit transfer to the student’s home institution.
  • Good Academic Standing: Applicants must be in good academic standing at their home institution, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.
  • Applicant Restrictions: Current or past recipients of the Gilman Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), or any other U.S. government-funded exchange program are not eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship.
  • Destination Restrictions: The Gilman Scholarship Program encourages students to choose non-traditional study abroad destinations, particularly those outside of Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. However, students can still apply to programs in these regions if they can demonstrate the significance of the chosen destination to their academic or career goals.
  • Diversity Considerations: The program seeks to support students from diverse backgrounds, including first-generation college students, students from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students studying in STEM fields.

Financial Need And Benefits

The Gilman Scholarship Program offers a range of benefits to selected recipients, empowering them to pursue their academic and professional goals abroad. These benefits include:

  • Financial Support: The Gilman Scholarship provides funding to cover the costs associated with studying or interning abroad. This support may include assistance with tuition, airfare, housing, meals, local transportation, and other living expenses.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: The program prioritizes diversity and inclusion, aiming to make international education accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, including those with financial need, underrepresented minority groups, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities.
  • Academic Enrichment: Recipients have the opportunity to enhance their academic experience through immersive study abroad programs, internships, language learning, and research opportunities in diverse fields and locations around the world.
  • Cultural Exchange: The Gilman Scholarship encourages cultural exchange and cross-cultural understanding by facilitating interactions with people from different backgrounds, languages, and cultures. This exposure fosters greater global awareness, empathy, and intercultural competence among recipients.
  • Professional Development: By participating in international experiences, recipients gain valuable skills and experiences that enhance their resumes and future career prospects. They develop cross-cultural communication skills, adaptability, problem-solving abilities, and a global perspective that are highly valued in today’s interconnected world.
  • Alumni Network: Upon completion of their Gilman Scholarships, recipients become part of a vibrant alumni network of former scholars who share experiences, provide support, and contribute to the program’s ongoing success. This network offers opportunities for networking, mentorship, and continued engagement in international education and cultural exchange initiatives.

Overall, the Gilman Scholarship Program provides transformative opportunities for undergraduate students to expand their horizons, pursue their passions, and become global citizens equipped to address the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world.

Application Process.

Applying for The Gilman Scholarship Program involves several steps, from preparing application materials to submitting them within the designated timeframe. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply:

  • Review Eligibility Requirements: Before starting the application process, carefully review the eligibility criteria outlined by The Gilman Scholarship Program to ensure you meet all requirements.
  • Research Study Abroad or Internship Programs: Explore study abroad or internship programs that align with your academic and professional goals. Ensure that the program you choose is eligible for credit transfer at your home institution and meets the duration requirements of at least three weeks (21 days) in a single country.
  • Consult with Advisors: Seek guidance from study abroad advisors, academic advisors, and financial aid advisors at your college or university. They can provide valuable insights and assistance throughout the application process.
  • Prepare Application Materials:
    1. Personal Information: Complete the online application form, providing accurate personal and academic information.
    2. Statement of Purpose: Write a compelling statement of purpose outlining your reasons for studying or interning abroad, academic and career goals, and the impact you hope to make through the experience.
    3. Follow-On Service Project Proposal: Develop a follow-on service project proposal outlining how you will share your international experience with your home community and promote international education and cultural exchange.
    4. Financial Aid Information: Provide details about your financial aid status, including your Pell Grant eligibility and any additional financial resources.
    5. Official Transcript: Obtain an official transcript from your college or university, ensuring it reflects your current academic standing.
    6. Budget Proposal: Prepare a detailed budget proposal outlining the estimated costs of your study abroad or internship program, including tuition, travel, accommodation, meals, and other expenses.
    7. Letters of Recommendation: Request letters of recommendation from academic or professional references who can speak to your academic abilities, character, and suitability for the Gilman Scholarship.
  • Complete and Submit Application: Fill out the online application form on the official Gilman Scholarship website, attaching all required documents and materials. Ensure that your application is complete and submitted before the specified deadline.
  • Review and Confirmation: Review your application thoroughly to check for any errors or omissions before submitting it. Once submitted, you should receive a confirmation email acknowledging receipt of your application.
  • Wait for Notification: After the application deadline, The Gilman Scholarship Program will review all applications and notify selected recipients via email. Be patient during this period and check your email regularly for updates.
  • Acceptance and Compliance: If selected as a Gilman Scholar, carefully review the terms and conditions of the scholarship award, including any post-award requirements such as attending orientation sessions and completing the follow-on service project.
  • Enjoy Your Experience: Once you’ve been awarded The Gilman Scholarship, embrace the opportunity to study or intern abroad, immerse yourself in a new culture, and make the most of this transformative experience.

Important Deadlines

Deadlines vary depending on the term of study abroad, typically in October for spring programs and March for fall programs.

Required Documents

  • Official transcripts
  • Proof of Pell Grant eligibility
  • Study abroad program information
  • Two essays: Statement of Purpose and Community Impact Essay

How to Write a Winning Gilman Scholarship Essay

The Gilman Scholarship application requires two essays: the Statement of Purpose Essay and the Community Impact Essay. Each essay is crucial in demonstrating your suitability and passion for studying abroad.


Tips for a Strong Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose should highlight your academic and professional goals and how the study abroad program will help you achieve them. Be specific about your reasons for choosing your particular destination and program. Highlight any unique aspects of the program that align with your goals. It’s also important to show personal motivation and commitment.

Crafting the Community Impact Essay

The Community Impact Essay should outline how you plan to engage with the host community and share your experiences upon return. Discuss specific activities or projects you plan to undertake. Show an understanding of the cultural exchange and mutual benefit involved. Upon your return, how will you use your experiences to benefit your home community or school?

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid general statements and ensure your essays are personalized. Proofread carefully to avoid grammatical errors and typos. Stick to the word limit and follow the guidelines provided. Demonstrating genuine enthusiasm and a clear plan can significantly strengthen your application.

Preparing for Life Abroad

Living in a new country can be challenging, but being prepared can ease the transition. Research cultural norms, traditions, and social etiquette of your host country. Learning about the local customs will help you integrate more smoothly and avoid cultural faux pas.

Language Learning Tips

If you’re traveling to a country where a different language is spoken, start learning basic phrases before you go. Use language learning apps, take a class, or find a language exchange partner. Immersing yourself in the language through media such as movies, music, and books can also be beneficial.

Managing Homesickness

Homesickness is common among students studying abroad. Stay connected with family and friends through regular video calls and messages. Bringing a few personal items from home can provide comfort. Engage in activities and socialize with other students to build a support network.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Create a budget that includes all expected expenses, such as tuition, accommodation, food, transportation, and personal expenses. Track your spending to avoid running out of funds. Look into opening a local bank account or using travel-friendly credit cards to manage your money more efficiently.

Building Professional Skills Through Study Abroad

International experience can make your resume stand out to potential employers. Highlight skills such as cross-cultural communication, adaptability, problem-solving, and language proficiency. Be sure to include any internships, volunteer work, or significant projects completed during your time abroad.

Networking Opportunities

Studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to build an international network. Attend local events, join clubs, and connect with professionals in your field. LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for maintaining these connections. Networking can lead to future job opportunities, internships, or collaborative projects.

Gaining Global Perspective

Living and studying in a different country exposes you to new perspectives and ways of thinking. This global awareness is highly valued in many professions. It can enhance your ability to work in diverse teams and understand international markets.

Internships and Volunteer Opportunities

Many study abroad programs offer internships or volunteer opportunities. These experiences can provide practical skills and enhance your understanding of the local culture and community. They also demonstrate initiative and a willingness to engage deeply with your host environment.

Navigating the Application Review Process

Gilman Scholarship reviewers look for well-rounded candidates who demonstrate academic achievement, financial need, and a clear purpose for studying abroad. They value students who show potential for future leadership and a commitment to giving back to their communities.

Importance of Recommendations

Strong letters of recommendation can significantly bolster your application. Choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities, character, and suitability for international study. Provide them with ample time and information to write a detailed and supportive letter.

Finalizing and Submitting Your Application

Before submitting, double-check all components of your application for completeness and accuracy. Ensure your essays are polished and free of errors. Submit your application before the deadline to avoid any last-minute technical issues.

Post-Submission Steps

After submitting your application, monitor your email for any updates or requests for additional information. Be patient, as the review process can take time. Prepare for potential interviews by reviewing your application and practicing common interview questions.

Leveraging Gilman Scholarship Resources

The Gilman Program offers various resources to help you prepare for your time abroad. Attend pre-departure orientations and webinars to gain valuable insights. These sessions can provide information on cultural adaptation, safety, and academic expectations.

Engaging with Alumni Networks

Connecting with Gilman alumni can provide support and guidance. Alumni can offer advice on living abroad, academic strategies, and how to maximize your experience. Many alumni are willing to mentor new scholars, providing a valuable resource throughout your journey.

Accessing Ongoing Support

The Gilman Program offers continuous support during and after your study abroad experience. Take advantage of resources such as counseling services, academic support, and networking events. Stay engaged with the Gilman community through social media and alumni events.

Participating in Gilman Webinars and Workshops

Webinars and workshops hosted by the Gilman Program cover various topics, from application tips to career development. These sessions are designed to help you make the most of your scholarship experience. Participate actively to gain new skills and knowledge.

Exploring Non-Traditional Study Abroad Destinations

Choosing a non-traditional study abroad destination can offer unique benefits. These locations often provide a more immersive cultural experience and opportunities to learn about lesser-known regions. They can also distinguish your application and resume.

Popular Non-Traditional Destinations

Countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are considered non-traditional destinations for U.S. students. These regions offer diverse cultural experiences and the opportunity to study in unique academic environments.

Considerations for Non-Traditional Destinations

When choosing a non-traditional destination, consider factors such as language, safety, and cultural differences. Research thoroughly to understand the challenges and opportunities. Reach out to past students who have studied in these regions for first-hand insights.

Success Stories from Non-Traditional Destinations

Many students have found their experiences in non-traditional destinations to be highly rewarding. These students often report enhanced cultural understanding, unique academic experiences, and personal growth. Their stories can inspire and guide new applicants.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Beyond Gilman

In addition to the Gilman Scholarship, numerous other scholarships are available for study abroad. Programs such as the Boren Awards, Critical Language Scholarship, and Fulbright U.S. Student Program offer significant financial support.

Applying for Multiple Scholarships

Applying for multiple scholarships can increase your chances of securing funding. Each scholarship has its own requirements and deadlines, so plan accordingly. Tailor your application materials to meet the specific criteria of each scholarship.

Tips for Securing Financial Aid

Start your scholarship search early and use resources like scholarship databases and university financial aid offices. Pay attention to deadlines and eligibility criteria. Writing strong essays and obtaining solid recommendations are crucial for success.

Combining Scholarships and Personal Funds

If scholarships do not cover all your expenses, consider combining them with personal savings, part-time work, or student loans. Budget carefully and explore cost-saving measures such as affordable housing and meal plans.

Post-Study Abroad: Continuing the Journey

Re-Entry Challenges

Returning home after studying abroad can be challenging. Re-entry shock, or reverse culture shock, is common as you readjust to your home culture. Recognize that this is a normal part of the process and give yourself time to adapt.

Sharing Your Experience

Sharing your study abroad experience can be fulfilling and impactful. Present at campus events, write blog posts, or create multimedia presentations. Engage with the Gilman Program and other organizations to share your insights and inspire future scholars.

Integrating Your Experience into Your Career

Use your study abroad experience to enhance your career prospects. Highlight international skills on your resume and in job interviews. Reflect on how the experience has influenced your career goals and be ready to articulate this to potential employers.

Continuing International Engagement

Stay connected to the global community by joining international organizations, participating in cultural events, or considering further opportunities abroad such as graduate studies or international work assignments.

Impact of Gilman Scholars on Global Communities

Many Gilman Scholars undertake impactful community projects abroad. These projects range from educational initiatives to environmental conservation efforts. Highlighting specific case studies can demonstrate the positive influence of the program.

Long-Term Benefits to Host Communities

The benefits of the Gilman Scholarship extend beyond the individual scholars. Host communities gain from the cultural exchange, educational initiatives, and collaborative projects. These interactions foster mutual understanding and long-term partnerships.

Contributions to Home Communities

Upon returning, Gilman Scholars often engage in activities that benefit their home communities. They share their experiences through presentations, mentoring, and community service, promoting the value of international education.

Building a Global Network

The connections made through the Gilman Scholarship create a global network of engaged and culturally aware individuals. This network fosters ongoing collaboration and support, contributing to a more interconnected and understanding world.

Related Post


The Gilman Scholarship Program offers a unique opportunity for U.S. undergraduate students to gain valuable international experience. By providing financial support and encouraging diverse participation, the program helps to create globally aware and culturally competent graduates. Apply today to embark on a transformative educational journey.

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