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 the people working on-the-ground on world-changing ideas -- the doers, makers, inventors, advocates, filmmakers and photographers, musicians and artists, educators, scientists, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, and human rights activists.

We are looking for individuals who have a proven track record of great work in their field, with fine character and a good heart. We are looking for individuals from all disciplines, and who have collaborative, kind personalities.

Why should I apply to be a Fellow?
Once selected, TED Fellows receive transformational support. The program offers them TED’s power to help articulate and amplify their vision. The program supports TED Fellows’ with the individual capacity-building required to take the global stage. We equip TED Fellows with public speaking and media training, professional coaching, educational programming and connect them to a global network of peers and industry leaders.

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 be invited to attend a TED conference. Note: conference invitations may be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

How long does the Fellowship last?
The primary obligations of your TED Fellowship last for one year. While the first year of the Fellowship is active, we like to say “once a Fellow, always a Fellow.” We hope that TED 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, and you must apply as an individual. If you are working as a part of a group, we still encourage you to apply. Collaborative teams should select one member to apply for the fellowship or apply as individuals. In your application, please clearly delineate your specific contribution to the larger organization or project. Teams that apply using one application form will be disqualified.

Are there any changes to the program because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are planning to invite our next class to an in-person TED conference in Vancouver (April 7-15, 2022), but 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.

What health and safety protocols are being put in place for the TED2022 conference?
While we’re optimistic about our ability to convene a group of people for this event in April of 2022, we’re also working to protect everyone’s health and safety. With guidance from experts and following local safety protocols, we’re planning extra protective measures to ensure the health and safety of all attendees, staff, our vendors and the local Vancouver 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 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 June 30 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 Vancouver (April 7-15, 2022), 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. TED will 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 Vancouver April 7-15, 2022). 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.