TED Fellows » Applying to be a Fellow » Program FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

About the TED Fellows program

Q. The TED Fellows program is looking for people who have "demonstrated remarkable accomplishment." What do you mean?

A. We're looking for makers and doers, not talkers -- people who wow us with organizations they've started, causes they fight for, research they've done, art they've created. We'll pay less attention to schools attended and grades earned.

Q. Do applicants need to be a certain age?

A. We are targeting applicants of ages 21-40. However, anyone over age 18 is welcome to apply. While a majority of the Fellows will fall within this range, we will not discriminate based on age.

Q. Do applicants have to originate in the "developing world"?

A. While we are focusing on those who originate within our five target regions -- Africa, the Asia/Pacific region, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East -- we encourage individuals from all around the world to apply. We will not discriminate based on country of origin.

Q. Is English proficiency a requirement?

A. Because the TED Conferences are conducted in English, English proficiency is a requirement. We would like to ensure that Fellows get the most out of their experience. However, we do not require applicants to be native English speakers. Many will, in fact, have other native languages.

Q. How do I choose my references?

A. Choose people who know you well and can speak to your passion, dedication and drive. Big names or famous people will not make your application stronger as our goal is to get to know you and your work better, not to speak to a celebrity. We strongly encourage you to avoid using family members as references, unless you run a business together.

Make sure that you check with your references before listing them on your application, as well as provide us with correct contact information. We reserve the right to contact them at any point during the application process, and their failure to respond may weaken your application.

Q. Will TED provide Fellows with their visas?

A. Applicants selected to be TED Fellows will be responsible for getting their own visas. However, TED will provide a formal letter of invitation that should be sufficient for most countries' visa applications. While TED will do its best to help each Fellow, we cannot be responsible if a visa is denied. The formal letter of invitation can also be used to document the trip if you are student studying in another country. TED will cover visa application fees.

Q. What is the Senior Fellows program? How do I become a Senior Fellow?

A. The word "senior" has nothing to do with age. Fellows who have completed the terms of their fellowship may apply to be a TED Senior Fellow. Any TED Fellow is eligible to apply for the TED Senior Fellow program. Every year, all the TED Fellows from the previous year who have applied for the Senior Fellows program will be pooled; 10 from among these will be selected to be Senior Fellows. The Senior Fellows program is an extended two-year Fellowship program. Benefits include, participation in four additional Senior Fellows-focused pre-conferences, attendance to four additional TED and TEDGlobal conferences, and the possibility to deliver a TEDTalk on the TED University or main TED stage.

About the Application and Selection Processes

Q. Are the application processes for the TED and TEDGlobal Conferences different?

A. Yes. There is a separate application process for TED and TEDGlobal. TED and TEDGlobal will take 20 Fellows each, annually. At the top of the application, applicants must select the box corresponding to the Conference they would like to be considered for.

Q. What are the differences between TED, TEDGlobal, and TEDIndia?

A. TED is our historic, flagship gathering, taking place annually in California since 1984. TED attracts about 1,300 attendees, and three-quarters of its speakers and attendees are from the US.

TEDGlobal, held annually in Europe, is TED's twin conference, sharing its format and audience -- but with a stronger international approach. Of its 700 attendees, it draws a more global audience and speaker line-up (three-quarters from outside of the US).

TEDIndia, a one-time regional conference, was held in November of 2009 in Mysore, India. 100 Fellows from South Asia were chosen to attend.

Q. What is the timeline for the application process?

A. Normally, there are two admission cycles per year: one for TED in Long Beach and one for TEDGlobal in Edinburgh. We will accept 20 Fellows to each conference. Please see our Fellows Calendar for date-specific details.

Q. Can an applicant apply twice?

A. An applicant may not apply twice in the same calendar year. If an applicant has not been accepted into the TED Fellows program (TED or TEDGlobal), he or she may apply again the following calendar year (not within the same calendar year of his or her first application). If an applicant is selected as a Fellow and attends either TED or TEDGlobal, he or she may apply in the next application cycle to be a TED Senior Fellow (application only made available to existing Fellows).

Q. I already applied last year and didn't get in ... should I really bother applying again?

A. Yes. Keep in mind that there are only a few slots for a significant number of movers and shakers in the world. If you are doing something truly innovative, we will notice at some point, so stay persistent!

Q. I don’t think I have the slightest chance, should I still apply?

A. If you are interested in being a TED Fellow -- apply! In fact, many of our past Fellows never would have imagined receiving a Fellowship in their wildest dreams. Let us be the judge!

Q. When are recipients chosen and notified?

A. All applicants are notified whether or not they have been chosen for the TED Fellows program. Because there are two separate admission cycles a year, there will be two separate notifications. Please check the Fellows Calendar for date-specific details.

More questions? Please email fellows@ted.com.