Fulbright U.S. Student Program

History



In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill in the United States Congress that called for the use of surplus war property to fund the 'promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.'

On August 1, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law, and Congress created the Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Government.

From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The world has been transformed in ensuing decades, but the fundamental principle of international partnership remains at the core of the Fulbright mission.

The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) was created by Congress to supervise the Fulbright Program. This 12-member Board, appointed by the President of the United States, works in cooperation with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the bi-national Fulbright Commissions and Foundations, and the Public Affairs Sections of U.S. embassies abroad, to administer the Program. The FFSB sets policies and procedures for administration of the Fulbright Program, has final authority for selection of all grantees, and supervises the conduct of the program both in the United States and abroad. Click here for a complete list of current FFSB members.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. Fulbright U.S. Student alumni populate a range of professions and include ambassadors, members of Congress, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors, and teachers. Bose Corporation founder Amar Bose, actor John Lithgow, composer Philip Glass, opera singer Renee Fleming and economist Joseph Stiglitz are among notable former grantees. 

Approximately 325,400 Fulbrighters, 122,800 from the United States and 202,600 from other countries, have participated in the Program since its inception more than sixty years ago. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide. The Congressional appropriation for the Fulbright Program in fiscal year 2013 was $242.8 million. Foreign governments, through binational commissions or foundations abroad, contributed approximately $80 million directly to the Program in fiscal year 2012.

The United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) administers the Fulbright Program under policy guidelines established by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) and in cooperation with bi-national Fulbright Commissions and the Public Affairs Sections of U.S. embassies abroad.

As the administrative and executive arm of the Fulbright Program, ECA has fiscal responsibility for the preparation of an annual budget request to Congress and makes decisions on funding allocations to participating countries. Under policies established by the FFSB, ECA also holds primary responsibility for the administration of the program, together with the assistance of cooperating non-profit organizations. Within a U.S. embassy abroad, exchange-program activities are the responsibility of the Public Affairs Section. In many countries, at least one of the Foreign Service Officers from this section is a member of the local bi-national Fulbright Commission and maintains liaison with the Commission on policy and program matters on behalf of the ECA. In countries without a Fulbright Commission, the Public Affairs Officer or Cultural Affairs Officer administers the educational exchange programs.

I am a....

Current U.S. Student

United States citizens who are currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs are eligible to apply.  All applicants enrolled in U.S institutions must apply through their home campuses.  Find the Fulbright Program Adviser on your campus.

If you are an undergraduate student you would be eligible to apply in your senior year.  If you are a graduate student you are eligible to apply to most countries as long as you will not have a PhD degree on the application deadline.

Non-U.S. Student

If you are a non-U.S. citizen looking to applying for a Fulbright grant to study in the United States you will apply to the Fulbright Program for Foreign Students in your home country.

U.S. Citizen but not a Student

If you are a U.S. citizen, hold a bachelor’s degree, and do not have a PhD degree then you could be eligible for certain awards within the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.  Please review the program summary for the country where you would like to apply.

Artist

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program welcomes applications in the creative and performing arts.  Arts candidates for the U.S. Student Program should have relatively limited professional experience in the fields (typically 5 years or less) in which they are applying.  Artists with more experience should consider applying for Fulbright Scholar Program.

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U.S. Professor

If you are a U.S. citizen and a professor at a U.S. institution and are interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award you will need to apply through CIES.

Non U.S. Professor

If you are a non-U.S. citizen and a professor interested in applying for a Fulbright Scholar Award to the United States you would need to apply through the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in your home country.  Find out more information on the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program.