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. TED’s expert coaches will help you hone, express, and communicate your work and ideas, as well as give you a platform to share them. You’ll meet individuals who can support you professionally. You’ll also join the powerful global network of TED Fellows – innovators who may be future collaborators. Fellows also have access to professional and speaker coaching opportunities, public-relations guidance, 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. We want to know about the organizations you've started, causes you've fought for, research you've done, and art you've created. We want you to show us your work.

What does the TED Fellows program entail?
TED Fellows are part of a diverse, collaborative and global community of more than 500 emerging and established experts. If selected, you’ll have the opportunity to give a TED Talk and gain valuable feedback from TED’s expert coaches on how to hone, express and communicate your work and ideas. You’ll receive career coaching and mentorship from our team of professional coaches and get public relations guidance and media training. You’ll participate in virtual programming for TED Fellows and possibly be invited to attend the special TEDMonterey conference in Monterey, California (depending on how the pandemic progresses over the coming months).

How long does the Fellowship last?
While the first year of the Fellowship is active, we like to say “once a Fellow, always a Fellow.” We hope that Fellows stay engaged and thoughtful members of the community for many years.

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.

Are there any changes to the program because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the midst of this global pandemic, the TED Fellows program is more committed than ever to finding and amplifying individuals making a vital impact in their communities and doing the work of future-making. We are currently planning to invite our next class to an in-person conference in Monterey (May 29- June 4, 2021), given the global pandemic this conference may be canceled and the TED Fellowship may become entirely virtual, depending on expert advice and local health safety protocols. As always, the process of Fellows preparing their TED Talks with the TED Fellows team will be done virtually through online meetings, as well as additional Fellows programming.

What health and safety protocols are being put in place for the TEDMonterey conference?
While we’re optimistic about our ability to convene a group of people for this event in June of 2021, we’re also working to maximize health and safety. With guidance from experts and following local safety protocols, we’re planning extra protective measures including enhanced hand-washing facilities, frequent disinfecting of highly trafficked areas and an easy testing and contact tracing strategy both before and during the conference to ensure the health and safety of all attendees, staff, our vendors and the local Monterey community.

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 8 months after the application closes. 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. The deadline is August 24 at 11:59pm UTC. We are very firm about this deadline. Please note that the deadline is in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and be sure to convert this deadline to your local time.

How do I choose as 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. The TED Fellowship is highly competitive and successful applicants often apply multiple times. Please be sure to tell us on the application how your work has grown since your last application.

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. Let us be the judge!

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?
You must be available to speak with the TED Fellows team via videoconference for approximately ten hours to develop your short TED Talk.

You must also be available to participate in and contribute to a thriving and connected global community, both virtually and in-person when possible. We are currently planning to invite our next class to an in-person conference in Monterey (May 29- June 4, 2021), given the global pandemic this conference may be canceled and the TED Fellowship may become entirely virtual, depending on expert advice and local health safety protocols.

Is English proficiency a requirement?
Yes. The program 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. If invited to a conference, 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.

What will TED do if I can’t attend a conference due to local or national travel restrictions?
We are currently planning to invite our next class to an in person conference in Monterey (May 29- June 4, 2021), given the global pandemic the TED Fellowship may become entirely virtual, depending on expert advice and local health safety protocols. While we will do our best to help each Fellow attend this conference, we cannot be responsible if travel is not possible due to health or travel restrictions. We are committed to supporting the TED Fellows community in every way possible and will work with impacted individuals on a case-by-case basis.

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.

I have a disability and need an alternate application form. What can I do?
Please contact us at contact@ted.com and we will do our best to accommodate.

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

More questions? Please email contact@ted.com.

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.