8 Open Study/Research Award
Accepted Degree Levels
Grant PeriodAugust Start
Grant Length6-10 Months
The U.S. Study/Research Award allows young professionals, recent graduates, artists, and graduate students to conduct collaborative research projects for up to one academic year (10 months) at a higher education institution, research center, public institution, or NGO in Colombia.
Grant benefits include round trip international airfare, monthly stipend, Accident and Sickness Health Benefit Plan for Exchanges (ASPE), assistance in the visa application process, Orientation Seminar at the beginning of the grant period, and monitoring and advising by the Fulbright Commission during the period of stay in the country.
This program promotes academic mobility and integration for professionals, young researchers, artists, and graduate students, while setting the basis for further academic collaboration and fostering interdisciplinary work/research that addresses different needs and challenges in Colombia and the U.S. This award also creates links between U.S. Student researchers and key stakeholders in Colombia, including government agencies, entrepreneurs, NGOs, local communities, students, among others, and supports the internationalization processes at Colombian higher education institutions and other eligible host institutions.
The grant period must begin in August 2024 and conclude before June 1st, 2025, according to the proposed grant length. Changes or deferrals of the grant period are not allowed. Grant dates must be clearly specified in the application and invitation letter. The grant duration in months must be a whole number. It is recommended that the selected candidates begin their stays between August and September, in order to facilitate the process of traveling to Colombia. The grant completion date will be the choice of each grantee.
Before arrival, the Fulbright Commission offers a series of informative webinars in which relevant information is shared regarding the grantees’ preparation, the visa application process, and grant document processing, among other key aspects for a successful grant start.
The grant period begins with an Orientation Seminar organized by the Fulbright Commission in late July 2024, which could be virtual. Attendance at the Orientation Seminar is mandatory for all U.S. Student grantees.
On average, no more than eight (8) U.S. Student researcher grants are awarded by the Fulbright Commission in Colombia every year. The following academic profiles are eligible for this award: recent graduates, Master's students, Ph.D. students, and artists. Graduate students conducting thesis/dissertation research are strongly preferred. Applications from all fields of study are welcome. However, proposals related to the following fields will be prioritized:
Biotechnology, Bioeconomy, and Environment.
Basic and Space Sciences.
Life and Health Sciences.
Social Sciences, Human Development, and Equity.
Creative and Cultural Industries.
Ocean and Hydrological Resources.
Converging Technologies (nano-, info-, and cogno- industries 4.0.).
Climate Change and Sustainability.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Public and Global Health.
Projects that involve work with communities outside the host institution, and/or addressing topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion are particularly welcome.
U.S. citizens holding dual U.S.-Colombian citizenship are eligible.
Residency in the host country is permitted in the year prior to the grant.
Grantees with dual U.S. and Colombian nationality are required by Colombian law to enter the country on a Colombian passport.
Accepted Degree Levels
Special Application Instructions
As part of their project proposal, candidates must specify the academic products, contributions, or outcomes that they expect to achieve during their grant period. All grantees, regardless of their award activity, are expected to lead at least one public conference related to their project or field of expertise during their grant period.
Foreign Language Proficiency
In general, intermediate or higher Spanish proficiency is recommended to help facilitate the grantee’s successful academic performance and interaction with Colombian counterparts, local populations, and other relevant stakeholders. However, language requirements vary as required by the specific grant activity.
Candidates with basic or limited Spanish language skills can also be considered if the research topic and proposed grant activities do not require a fluent Spanish speaker.
Fulbright Proposal Types
Letter required for independent study or research at deadline
Applicants must submit an invitation letter signed by the director of the department, academic unit, institute, or research center interested in hosting the candidate, or alternatively, signed by the professor or researcher who is interested in working with the candidate on the proposed project, provided that this invitation has been approved by the department director or dean.
In addition to defining the support measures that will be provided to the candidate by the host institution (e.g. access to facilities or resources, collaboration with an ongoing project, etc.), the letter should state that a host contact person will be available during the grant period to mentor the applicant and/or supervise the applicant's work on the proposed project.
Candidates must confirm with their home institution in the U.S. and host institution in Colombia whether any research approvals are required for their projects to be approved or conducted.
Securing a letter of invitation is an essential step in the application process for this award. Applicants are encouraged to contact potential host institutions in Colombia as early as possible, given that response times will vary depending on the Colombian institution's internal procedures and policies.
The Fulbright Commission in Colombia highly recommends applicants interested in carrying on their research projects in institutions placed cities other than Bogotá D.C., Medellin, and Cali. This statement responds to an interest in diversity and inclusion of research communities that may have more impact in collaborating with a U.S. counterpart.
Inquiries or questions about the Fulbright U.S. Student Researcher Program in Colombia may be directed to Ana María Carvajal, Educational Advisor at the Fulbright Commission in Colombia at email@example.com. For more information about the Fulbright U.S. Student Researcher Program in Colombia, please visit our website.
U.S. Student Researchers may audit a few bachelor's or graduate level courses at the host institution as observers/guests, provided that it does not affect their grant activities. It is important to note that U.S. Student Researchers in Colombia do not have formal enrollment status at the host institution. Course attendance may generate fees, which are not covered by the grant. Grantees may pay the fees for such courses with personal funds.
Fulbright Colombia provides general information to grantees about how to secure housing, but does not make any arrangements. It is the grantee’s responsibility to secure housing in Colombia, during the grant period, according to their preferences and needs. It is highly encouraged that grantees contact the International Relations Office at their host institution which is accustomed to receiving foreign students, therefore, may share resources for housing in different cities.
Life as a U.S. Fulbrighter in Colombia
Located in the northwest corner of South America, Colombia has a rich and complex geography that is shaped by three exuberant branches of the Andes mountain range system and lined by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. With more than 50 million citizens, Colombia has the second-largest population in South America and is Latin America’s oldest and most stable democracy. Colombia is a free market economy with major commercial and investment ties to countries around the world, including the United States.
In the last five years, Colombia has established itself as one of the most rapidly growing and innovative economies in Latin America. The country’s natural diversity is comparable to its rich cultural heritage reflecting the indigenous, Spanish, and African origins of its people. This makes Colombian food, music, dance, and art greatly diverse and unique.
Colombia is a paradigmatic example of a middle-income economy, and although highly dependent on fossil fuels for national income, it is poised to transition towards a carbon-neutral and circular economy which could become a replicable example for other developing countries. Colombia's ecosystemic, economic, social, and cultural diversity offers an engaging setting for research projects that seek to find solutions to the largest global challenges of our times.
A remarkable location for biodiversity, sustainable development, and peace studies
Colombia has always been a preferred destination for students and scholars from around the world conducting research or being interested in biodiversity and sustainable development. As the second most biodiverse country in the world, Colombia opens numerous possibilities for academic visitors to engage and expand their knowledge. Colombia houses an unparalleled diversity of natural environments ranging from plains and deserts to high mountains, snowy peaks, Amazonian jungle, and Pacific and Caribbean coastlines— each with its own set of unique fauna and flora. Thus, Colombia provides the perfect context for adventurous researchers aiming to engage in research in distinct ecologies, and who wish to establish networks with local communities.
As one of the largest economies in Latin America, Colombia has the potential to influence the region as a whole, and in particular, exemplify a pathway toward sustainable development despite challenging sociopolitical contexts. The country’s deep connection with the Pacific Alliance and its strategic geographic location, as well as its historic drive in international contexts, position Colombia to lead efforts that can be transformative at the regional and global levels.
Due to its location and geographical situation, Colombia has been identified as being among the most vulnerable countries in the face of climate change. Along these lines, education at all levels plays a key role in the adoption of change toward sustainability, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It is also important to highlight the efforts made by the Colombian government to lead the energy transition and strategies to tackle the climate crisis in Latin America. In this sense, the country has gained recognition for setting in place the first regional policy on circular economy and its progress, making headway in the discussion of a Climate Action Law in Congress aiming at drawing together and enforcing UN Climate Change Conference (COP) commitments. In 2022, President Gustavo Petro stated during the United Nations General Assembly that the protection of the environment and biodiversity was a priority for the country.
In recent years, the country has also become a primary destination for those studying peace processes, rural development, and social transformation. Recently, Colombia has undergone a remarkable transformation that has turned the tide on a long-running civil conflict. The signing of the peace agreement in 2016 between the 50-year-old FARC guerrilla group and the administration of former president Juan Manuel Santos opened up a historical opportunity for peacebuilding in Colombia and especially in regions heavily affected by decades of conflict.
There has been considerable progress in the implementation of the peace agreement, particularly in terms of demobilization of the former insurgency, and the recognition and reparation for victims; however, there are several key points of the agreement that are lagging, such as a comprehensive rural reform FARC political participation, the cessation of violence in some regions, the solution to the problem of illicit drugs, and violence against demobilized ex-combatants.
The Iván Duque administration focused on and prioritized specific parts of the Agreement such as reincorporation, the formulation of national rural development plans, and issues related to the PDET (Programs of development with territorial approach, by its Spanish acronym). The main achievements in this field were the attention to the most abandoned municipalities of Colombia, the substitution of illicit crops, and the financing of productive projects led by ex-combatants.
Under the “Total Peace” policy, the current government aims at involving other armed groups and criminal bands that have caused violence in peace negotiations and processes of submission to justice. This policy puts communities at the center of negotiations and creates a fund for peace that seeks social investment for distant regions highly affected by the presence of irregular armed groups. The current government has publicly announced its commitment to work on the breached agreements through the discussion of rural reform, and has also begun to conduct peace dialogues with the ELN guerrilla group to achieve more peace and stability.
While there have been major improvements in Colombia in terms of security, significant challenges remain for the successful implementation of the peace agreements and the reintegration of the members of the former insurgency.
Another recent challenge in Colombia is the increasing inflow of migrants from Venezuela in the past years. As of February 2022, approximately 2.5 million Venezuelans had arrived in Colombia, according to Colombian official statistics. Colombia has taken a leading role in adopting an open borders policy and implementing humanitarian practices in the provision of services such as education, healthcare, employment services, and humanitarian aid to Venezuelan migrants and repatriated Colombians.
A diversified and connected system of higher education
In recent years, Colombia has made education a top priority in the country’s economic and social development and has invested more resources in this sector than in any other area. Colombia is a country that has made great efforts to offer inclusive and quality education for all by implementing policies that have increased the number of hours that children attend school, ensured access to education for children of younger ages, and strengthened the bridge into higher education settings. The country has also focused on increasing access to higher education for vulnerable and marginalized populations and investing in improving teacher training and development.
Colombia has a growing and diverse higher education system, composed of over 381 higher education institutions, offering 2,825 master’s programs and 449 doctoral programs. Colombian higher education institutions have been innovating their programs and procedures in order to attract more foreign scholars and students. The National Ministry of Education and its allies, MinCiencias and ICETEX, have invested heavily in advancing the installed capacities of Colombia's higher education system to improve the research and teaching on their campuses.
The country has generated policies in order to increase the number of employees with graduate degrees and to encourage research. There are currently 5,772 research groups in Colombia, and the main areas of research are Social Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Humanities, Agricultural Sciences, and Natural Sciences. For further information on Research Centers and other recognized institutions that make part of the National System of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Colombia, please click here.
Furthermore, the nationwide initiative “Colombia Challenge your Knowledge” (CCYK), which is led by the top universities in the country, has been analyzing and implementing the best internationalization practices in order to attract more international visitors.
Colombia’s bet on Science, Technology, and Innovation
Some new partnerships between Colombian and U.S. universities have been cemented in recent years; many of them funded by Colombia Científica. As the flagship Colombian governmental initiative to promote internationalization, science, and research in the country, Colombia Científica has coordinated efforts with the productive sector and world-class institutions. This inter-institutional initiative, supported by the World Bank, has gathered 148 stakeholders participating in eight Scientific Ecosystems in the following strategic focus areas: bio-economics, health, sustainable energy, food, and society. More than 1100 products will be developed by 2023 in the framework of this alliance, including patents, prototypes, bioprocessing facilities, industrial design registrations, and spin-offs, among others.
The Territorial Ecosystems of Science, Technology, and Innovation (CT&I), established by MinCiencias, also provide a framework for development in the different regions of Colombia. By integrating the regions' specific needs into strategic investment projects, competitive production areas, and development initiatives, the Department Councils of CT&I have played a key role in the alignment of regional initiatives and the goals and policies of science, technology, and innovation in the country.
During the last decade, Colombia has experienced impressive progress in terms of digital government and policy-making for the strengthening of Information and Communication Technologies. As part of this achievement, the Colombian government has created Excellence and Appropriation Centers, aiming to position Colombia in the field of big data analytics.
Finally, it is worth noting that in 2019 the Colombian government launched the Misión Internacional de Sabios for the advancement of science, technology, and innovation, which is composed of 47 national and international experts whose objective is to contribute to the construction and implementation of public policy on Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation, as well as long term strategies that Colombia must implement to respond to productive and social challenges in a scalable, replicable, and sustainable way. The Mission delivered documents with feasible recommendations and relevant questions that will need to be addressed for the country to leap forward around eight key topics: Social Sciences and Human Development; Life Sciences and Health, Biotechnology, and Environment; Ocean and Hydrobiological Resources; Basic and Space Sciences; Sustainable Energy; Converging (Nano, Info, and Cogno) Technologies and Industries 4.0; and Creative and Cultural Industries.
For further information on the findings and recommendations of the Misión International de Sabios, please visit https://minciencias.gov.co/mision-sabios/que-es.
Fulbright U.S. Student Researchers in Colombia
Since 1958, more than 390 U.S. graduate students and young researchers have conducted academic activities in different cities of Colombia, as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Researcher Program. Based on their feedback and comments, the following recommendations can facilitate future U.S. researchers’ adaptation process and overall experience in the country:
The host institution and local partners can be of great help to U.S. grantees to better prepare for their experience and cultural adaptation. Selected grantees are encouraged to discuss issues related to the local context, lifestyle, and culture with their hosts in the months prior to their arrival in order to better manage their expectations and gain a deeper understanding of everyday life in their cities of placement. Along these lines, scholars are also encouraged to reach out to the International Office of their host institution, which can provide insightful specific orientation and additional resources.
Maintaining close communication with the assigned Program Officer and mentors will allow the Fulbright Commission to provide orientation or assistance in a timely manner, and identify specific issues or situations in which the grantees may require additional accompaniment and help.
Plan any in-country trips in advance. Please note that all domestic and international travel during the grant period in Colombia, including fieldwork trips, must be approved by the Fulbright Commission.
Potential candidates can find additional information and recommendations about safety and security, health, housing, and how to prepare for living in Colombia in the Orientation Handbook for U.S. grantees available at: https://fulbright.edu.co/comunidad-estadounidense-alumni/.
Fulbright in Colombia
The Fulbright Commission in Colombia has made determined efforts aimed to enhance diversity, equity, decentralization, and access to its portfolio of opportunities for graduate studies, research, teaching, and English teaching. Broadening the geographical presence of U.S. grantees in the country has been critical to achieving these objectives. The extended coverage of Fulbright Programs for U.S. participants in the country has been possible thanks to the significant contributions from Colombian partners such as ICETEX, the National Ministry of Education, MinCiencias, SENA, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad del Valle, Universidad de los Andes, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad de Antioquia, Universidad del Norte, Universidad del Rosario, Universidad EAFIT, among others.
To promote the internationalization of higher education and position Colombia as a quality academic and scientific destination, the National Government developed the Go Colombia platform in 2020, as a result of the joint work of the Colombian Association of Universities (ASCUN), the Ministry of Education, Procolombia, ICETEX and the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. This initiative is built and articulated with the entire educational sector and Higher Education Institutions, allowing students, teachers, and researchers of any nationality to obtain relevant information on the country's educational offer. To access these resources, please click on the following link: https://www.gocolombia.edu.co/. To learn more about Colombia as a travel destination, visit http://www.colombia.co/.
For questions related to the U.S. Student Researcher Program in Colombia, please email Ana María Carvajal, Educational Advisor at the Fulbright Commission in Colombia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the history and impact of the Fulbright Program in Colombia, we invite you to watch the 65th Anniversary miniseries of Fulbright Colombia, which was an arduous work of historical memory that brings together interviews and anecdotes from members of the Fulbright Community (grantees and alumni), members of the Fulbright Colombia team, partners, members of our Board of Directors and winners of the Fulbright Excellence Award. Through 7 chapters of less than 7 minutes each, you will learn about the milestones of our Commission in parallel with historical and cultural moments in Colombia and the United States through six decades of history: click here to watch.
The Fulbright Commission in Colombia highly encourages U.S. participants to follow all government guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some links where U.S. candidates can find updated and official information about travel to Colombia, recent pandemic developments, and biosecurity guidelines, among other useful information.
• Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
• Ministerio de Salud (Colombian Health Ministry).
• Instituto Nacional de Salud-INS (National Health Institute).