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Exploration Grant Program

The Exploration Grant Program supports current UT undergraduate students in their efforts to establish connections abroad for nationally competitive scholarship opportunities, with particular emphasis on the Fulbright. Consult our Fulbright page to learn more about the Fulbright Program, application process, and how to approach selection of a destination country and award. You may request an appointment with us hereYou may preview the application (in PDF format) HERE.


Application Deadline: Rolling acceptance with a final deadline of May 15th. Applications will be considered in the order that they are received and as funding allows.

(A letter of recommendation is due within one week of the application deadline.)

The Exploration Grant is NOT a study abroad grant; rather, the Exploration Grant is akin to an academic business trip: it supports students to travel to make face-to-face, in-country/on-the-ground connections with faculty and programs with whom they hope to affiliate on a postgraduate fellowship. In the case of the Fulbright, formal letters of affiliation are required for the national application process and compel students to make contacts in their future host country. For other post-graduate opportunities, Exploration Grant funds could support travel to meet with future research advisors. Exploration Grants facilitate the preliminary experience so useful in building key relationships in order to later develop strong, competitive fellowships applications, which are sound in scope and well-supported by the target country, institution, individuals, and program of choice. Typically, Exploration Grant proposals are for about three weeks, during early summer.

Application Instructions: A full application consists of a completed online application form (which includes several short responses regarding your grant plans and background for the proposed work, as well as uploading your current resume or CV). In addition, you must have one (1) faculty letter of recommendation, submitted confidentially by the letter-writer, to Laura De Furio, Acting Director of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, at The letter should note the letter-writer’s relationship to the candidate and express support for and knowledge of the applicant’s specific intent and qualifications for the work proposed in the application.

Terms of Award: Awards are for up to $5000. Recipients will be named University of Tennessee Knoxville Exploration Scholars. Upon receipt of the award, which includes international insurance coverage through CISI, the scholar must complete a UT International Travel Registration through the Center for International Education*, undertake the proposed exploratory travel, establish requisite relationships in the host country, and develop drafts of a personal statement and project proposal. In advance of departure, scholars are required to attend OURF pre-departure Exploration Grant sessions providing guidance on the requisite components of the scholarship(s) for which they will apply upon completion of their exploration experience. These sessions are a critical component of the Exploration Grant; completion is required and is key in preparing to draft statements and make contacts for the purpose of future affiliation. Upon return, the scholar is required to submit the national scholarship application(s) for which they undertook the Exploration Grant (e.g., Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, etc.).

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must be a current full-time UT undergraduate; preference will be given to rising juniors and rising seniors.
  • There is no stated minimum GPA. However, you are expected to meet the GPA requirements and program eligibility for the scholarship opportunity to which you will apply post-Exploration Grant. Strong academic credentials are important.
  • *If there is a U.S. Department of State travel warning and/or a travel health warning (level 3) or alert (level 2) issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the target country — and if your grant application is recommended by the faculty selection committee — you will be asked to complete a “Request for Exception” through the UT Center for International Education. The Exploration Grant and subsequent travel will not be allowed until such time as this review has been successfully completed.

Competitive Exploration Grant applicants will:

  • Identify the target country/institution/program
  • Review the scholarship program priorities/requirements for the target country/institution
  • Discuss project ideas with faculty, advisor, and/or research mentor
  • Investigate and contact prospective affiliations in the host country
  • Create a detailed and feasible exploration experience proposal

Application Deadline: Applications submitted after the stated deadline will not be accepted. The recommendation letter is required one week after the application deadline, submitted by your recommender, to Laura De Furio at

Application Review Process: Exploration Grant applications are reviewed by an internal faculty committee.

The Exploration Grant Program is generously funded by the: Office of the Chancellor, Division of Student Success, and the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships.

Disclaimer: The Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships (OURF) supports UT undergraduates and alumni who are undertaking nationally competitive application processes. It provides support only and cannot, under any circumstances, accept responsibility for missed deadlines, incomplete applications, missing letters of recommendation or other supplementary materials, or selection outcomes at the campus or national level.  The responsibility of completing and submitting an application rests solely on the student or alumni engaging in a national application process. OURF does not guarantee or promise any outcome.