TED Fellows FAQ

Questions about the TED Fellows program? Take a look at our FAQ.

About the program

What are you looking for in a TED Fellow?
We are looking for individuals who have a proven track record of great work in their field and are on the brink of an incredible breakthrough, but need the extra support to get there. We are looking for individuals from all disciplines, and who have collaborative, kind personalities.

Why should I apply to be a Fellow?
The TED Fellowship program has the potential to catapult your career forward. By attending and speaking at the TED conference, you’ll be given a platform to share your work and ideas far and wide, and you’ll meet individuals who can help your career. As a Fellow, you’ll also join the powerful global network of TED Fellows – innovators who may be future collaborators. Fellows also have access to personal mentorship opportunities, public-relations guidance, speaker coaching and more.

The TED Fellows program is looking for people who have "demonstrated remarkable accomplishment." What does that mean?
We're looking for makers and doers, not talkers. Wow us with the organizations you’ve started, causes you’ve fought for, research you’ve done, art you’ve created. Actions speak louder than words.

What do Fellows do once they get to the TED conference?
Fellows work with the team on a four-minute TEDtalk in the months leading up to the conference. TED pays for round-trip economy airfare, ground transportation to and from the conference location and meals and shared accommodation on site. Before the conference starts, Fellows participate in a pre-conference where they meet the other Fellows, participate in skill-building workshops, attend talk rehearsals and more.

When the main conference begins, Fellows deliver their talks on stage. These are filmed and considered for release on TED.com. After the talks, Fellows participate in the conference as a regular attendee. They can watch all other talk sessions, speak with other TED attendees and meet new collaborators and friends.

How long does the Fellowship last?
While the Fellowship is centered around the annual TED conference, we like to say “Once a Fellow, always a Fellow.” As long as you want to stay engaged with the TED Fellows community, you can!

I’m part of a team. Can I apply to be a Fellow with my colleague(s)?
No. The Fellows program supports individuals leading ground-breaking projects, and you must apply as an individual. If you are working as a part of a group, we still encourage you to apply. In the past, collaborative teams have selected one member to apply for the fellowship. In your application, please clearly delineate your specific contribution to the larger organization or project.

What are the terms of the Fellowship?
If you are selected the TED Fellows team will provide you with a terms and conditions agreement to be signed before your Fellowship begins.


Selection process

What is the selection timeline?
We read every application, and therefore the review process takes time. You can expect to hear back from us within 6 to 7 months after the application closes. From each applicant pool, we accept 20 Fellows to attend the conference. All applicants are notified of whether or not they have been selected to join the TED Fellows program.

Do you offer application deadline extensions?
No, we do not. We are very firm about this deadline. Please note that the deadline is in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

How do I choose who to write my references?
Choose people who know you well and can speak to your accomplishments, passion and character. Big names or famous people will not make your application stronger as our goal is to get to know you and your work better. We strongly encourage you to avoid asking partners or family members for references, unless you work together professionally.

Make sure to notify your references before listing them on your application and to 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.

If I have applied in the past but didn’t receive a Fellowship, may I apply again?
Absolutely! We encourage you to apply again. There are many reasons you may not have been selected in the past but could be a great fit for a future class.

I don’t think I have the slightest chance. Should I still apply?
If you are interested in being a TED Fellow, apply! In fact, many of our past Fellows never would have imagined receiving a TED fellowship in their wildest dreams. Let us be the judge!

Non-discrimination policy

TED is committed to the principle of equal opportunity. TED does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, veteran or refugee status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its fellowship opportunities.

Application requirements

Do applicants need to be a certain age?
All applicants must be 18 years or older by the time they apply.

If selected, what is the required time commitment as a Fellow?
Once selected as a Fellow, you must be available to speak with the TED Fellows team via videoconference for approximately ten hours (over the course of approximately three months) prior to the TED conference.

The central requirement of the TED Fellowship is that you are available to attend the TED conference in person, for the entire time. In addition to the main five days of the TED conference, all Fellows must participate in a three-day pre­-conference. This means you will be required to block off a total of eight consecutive days in your schedule.

Is English proficiency a requirement?
Because the TED conference is conducted in English, English proficiency is a requirement. However, we do not require applicants to be native English speakers. Many do, in fact, have other native languages.

Do I have to cover any costs if I become a TED Fellow?
No. We cover the costs of transportation to and from the TED conference, any visa you may need, accommodations and food while at the conference and conference registration.

Will TED provide Fellows with their visas?
Applicants selected to be TED Fellows are responsible for applying for their own visas. However, we do provide a formal letter of invitation that should be sufficient for most countries' visa processes. While we do our best to help each Fellow, we cannot be responsible if a visa is denied. We do cover visa application fees.


Technical help

The application form won’t show up when I click the banner or the button. What do I do?
Try using a different browser. We prefer Chrome, but you should be able to access the application on Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer as well.

I tried all four of those browsers and it still isn’t working. Now what?
If refreshing the page does not work, it could be an issue with our website. If it is still not working within a hour, please email contact@ted.com for help.

I have filled out all of the required questions on the application form but the website still won’t let me submit the application. What do I do?
Please be sure you are following the character limit guidelines. As a reminder, these are character limits (spaces count as characters), not word limits.

I submitted my application too soon and I forgot to add one thing. Can I still add it?
All submitted applications are final. Please carefully review your application before submitting.

Note: We highly recommend that you write down your answers in a separate document that can be saved offline before you submit your application, in case you have technical trouble.

More questions? Please email fellows@ted.com.