Bonderman Travel Fellowship


The 2014 Bonderman Fellowship application is closed. All application information on this web site references the 2014 cycle and is subject to change for future cycles.

Please note that the eligibility requirements for undergraduate students have been revised for 2014. We are instituting these changes on a trial basis and will review and make changes as needed annually in response to the donor’s recommendations.

The Bonderman Travel Fellowships offer University of Washington graduate/professional and undergraduate students an opportunity to engage in independent exploration and travel abroad. All applicants must be enrolled and in good standing during the quarter the application is due and must hold US citizenship or permanent resident status.

GRADUATE/PROFESSIONAL STUDENTS: All students in graduate or professional degree programs are eligible to apply.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS: All undergraduate students (from the Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell campuses) with senior credit standing and a degree application on file, AND who also meet ONE of the following criteria are eligible to apply:

  • at least a 3.8 cumulative UW GPA by the start of Winter 2014; OR
  • participation and good standing in the University Honors Program (Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors) or in UW Tacoma’s Global Honors Program, by the start of Winter 2014. Undergraduates in one of these Honors programs DO NOT need to have 3.8 UW GPA or higher to apply, but simply must be in good standing in their respective programs, whatever that might mean.

Ideal Bonderman Fellows have integrity, the capacity for vision and leadership, and the potential for humane and effective participation in the global community. An applicant should demonstrate initiative, commitment, passion, honesty, and creativity in designing his or her proposed travel plan, but does not need to have a theme or project. The selection committee will consider the student’s experience as well as curiosity and seriousness of purpose.

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. Because Bonderman Fellowships are intended to foster independence, Fellows may not:

  • participate in a program or organization;
  • engage in formal study at a foreign university;
  • conduct research or other academic projects; or
  • travel with an organized group while carrying out the obligations of the fellowship.

Additionally, these Fellowships are intended to introduce students to cultures, peoples, and areas of the world with which they are not familiar, therefore:

  • travel to highly westernized areas (such Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand) is not competitive;
  • family heritage trips are not competitive;
  • preference is given to candidates without extensive international travel experience.

Applications must be submitted online via Catalyst. A committee of past Bonderman Fellows, faculty, and staff will review applications. Selected applicants will be invited for an interview, with final awards announced during spring quarter 2013.

Each Bonderman Fellow will receive a $20,000 award for travel. By accepting the award Fellows must commit to travel independently for eight or more months, exploring six or more countries in two or more major regions of the world. Fellows selected in this round will embark on their journeys between June 2013 and June 30, 2014 Students who propose to travel beginning later than June 2014 are not eligible for a 2013 fellowship.


Before applying for a Bonderman Fellowship, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I really want to do this for eight months?
  • Do I really want to go to these countries?
  • Have I already had an extensive international travel experience? What would this give me that a prior experience didn’t?
  • Do I have the fortitude and the passion to complete this responsibility?
  • Do I like to be alone? Do I like self-reflection?
  • How flexible am I? Am I willing to leave behind familiar structures and cultures?
  • Will this allow me to push myself outside of my comfort zone?
  • How is this going to be a challenge for me? Do I like challenges?
  • Is this realistic for me? Am I capable of completing this itinerary?


In addition to general information about you the application consists of the following four major components. Please carefully review the entire application via the above link before beginning your application and well in advance of the deadline.

Applications for Bonderman Fellowships may only be submitted online via Catalyst. DO NOT email or drop off a paper application in person. No late applications will be accepted.


To help us understand your application and desire for a Bonderman Fellowship, please respond to the prompts inquiring about your:

  • Language Experience
  • Prior International Travel
  • Experience with Challenge


An approximately 4 pages double-spaced proposal describing why you want to undertake extended solo travel, why you want to travel to these specific locations, and how you think the experience will impact you. Essentially, why you, why these places, and why now. Address these questions however you choose, but be sure to touch on all of them.


Provide a list of the countries, locations, and approximate dates of your proposed Bonderman Fellowship. This information is limited to approximately one page. Please remember that Catalyst does not support formatting (Excel or tables) and you cannot upload a document, so plan accordingly in assembling your itinerary.


Please list two references able to speak to your qualifications for and commitment to this experience. References can include instructors, mentors, advisers, or employers, but should not be family members or significant others. References do not need to write a letter and may be contacted via email or phone during the later stages of the application process.