Global UGRAD Exchange Program

Global Undergraduate Cultural Exchange Program, or simply known as UGRAD, is a semester exchange program. It is funded by US Department of State through the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan and managed by USEFP (United States Education Foundation in Pakistan). The program offers a one-semester scholarship to outstanding undergraduate students for a non-degree, full-time study. The intent is to expose students to US culture and education system. Two batches of students sent every year – from August to December (Fall) and other from January to April (Spring). The selection for both is made through single application that is usually open from October to November./span>

Assess your Eligibility:

  • At least be 18 years of age.
  • A Pakistani citizen living in Pakistan.
  • Having completed their first year of undergraduate study prior to starting their Global UGRAD Program;
  • Enrolled as an undergraduate in a reputable accredited university, public or private, and has at least one semester remaining at their home university after the UGRAD program. The Global UGRAD program cannot availed at the final academic term of a student’s undergraduate study.
  • A solid command over written and spoken English (English Language training for some finalists is possible)
  • Eligible to receive and maintain the US student exchange visa (J-1) required for the program;
  • Committed to returning to their home country after the completion of the program.

Step 1: Application Process

Check the eligibility criteria mentioned above and make sure you meet the criteria. To check the details, click here

Application process (1)

Step 2: Work on your personal statement

A 200-300 words essay, is a critical part of your application it reflects every aspect of your personality your ambitions and your aspirations. It should not only cover your academic profile but it should also shed some light on your qualities, achievements and aspirations. You must connect your personal qualities and achievements coherently with your goals. Some of the questions you should reflect upon in your personal statement should include:

  • Why should you be selected?
  • Why you want to go to USA?
  • What benefit you or your community will have from you joining this program?
  • What you intend to learn/gain from this platform and deliver on your return?

To get an idea about Personal Statement, read the Personal Statement Guidelines document.

Step 3: Organize and Collect Relevant Documents

You need to make sure you get all your transcripts from your university and get them attested. Also, you will be required to get your previous academic record attested as well, like your intermediate or matriculation degrees and transcripts and degrees. Same holds true for your O/A level documents. You should get your documents attested from a BPS 17 or higher officer.

Certificates of achievements/participation, community service and volunteer work also play a vital role to make your application stand out from the crowd.


Step 4: Interview

Not everyone who applies receives an interview call. Almost 500-600 students are usually shortlisted for interviews among the pool of applicants and interview calls are usually made during March. Interviews are conducted within 4-6 weeks usually. The interviews revolve around your personal statement, your long-term objectives and skills. Interviews are friendly and you don’t need to be worried at all. Before going for the interview, they ask you to indicate your participation in community service on a form and give you 2 pages to write an essay on a given topic. They take that written essay to the interview panel before calling your name for interview. Interview lasts for nearly 5-15 minutes.

For Sample Interview, click here

Step 5: Final Selection

Although this step does not require any effort from your end apart from checking email, it still is an important part of your scholarship application. Among 600 candidates interviewed, only 240-250 are selected both for fall and spring. 100-120 go in the Fall term (August to December), whereas the rest go in the Spring term. Among these almost 200 are selected as principal candidates, while rest are categorized as alternate candidates and are put in a queue for next sessions. Usually those selected as alternate candidates for fall are turned into principal either in the Fall or Spring. Also, few of the alternate candidates of Spring are designated as Principal candidates but this does not apply to everyone; it primarily depends on the availability of funds for that specific year. Final calls (emails more precisely) are sent in the 1st week of April. Emails to all grantees are sent simultaneously. Everyone who is selected as either a Principal or Alternate, whether for Fall or for Spring, receive an email on the same day as everyone else does. Those who cannot make it may receive rejection emails after a couple of weeks.

Final selection (1)
Toefl (1)

Step 6: Appear for TOEFL

When you receive a congratulatory email, you will also be asked to send out your scanned passport and city preference where you want to take TOEFL ITP. You need to make sure your passports ready by that time or apply for one as soon as you receive an email. You’ll also be asked to submit a NOC from your institution. The TOEFL is an easy test and its cost will be borne by USEFP.

Step 7: Medical Clearance

During May, USEFP representatives will ask you to complete and submit a medical certificate signed by any MMBS doctor having a valid PMDC number.

Medical clearance

Step 8: VISA Interview

VISA interviews are arranged by USEFP and happen usually in the month of June-July.

Step 9: Pre-Departure Orientation

2-day Pre-Departure Orientation is arranged by USEFP at Islamabad Marriot hotel or Serena Hotel in the month of June-July. By that time few students have been notified about their VISA status.

Uni placement

Step 10: University Placement

You’ll be notified about your university placement almost by July. Your suggestions and preferences are seldom taken into consideration. They consult your program of study and courses that you have studied through your transcript and then decide your university. The decision also depends upon other factors such as your TOEFL ITP scores; those having a score of less than 500/850 might end up at community colleges.

Step 11: Departure

Almost everyone gets VISA by mid-end of July. There may, however, be few cases who will still have their VISA status as pending, and even fewer who will be rejected. Applicants with valid visa join the Spring semester. You’ll be emailed your itineraries in the 1st week of August and you’ll be departing by the end of 1st week of August to the United States of America.


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