The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a programme of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the Fulbright Program, competitively selected U.S. citizens might become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad; and citizens of additional countries might qualify to do the same in the United States. The programme was established to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and additional countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.

The Fulbright Program provides 8,000 grants annually to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university lecturing, and classroom teaching. In the 2015–16 cycle, seventeen percent and twenty-four percent of American applicants were successful in securing research and English Teaching Assistance grants, respectively. Notwithstanding selectivity and application numbers vary substantially by country and by type of grant. For example, grants were awarded to thirty percent of Americans applying to teach English in Laos and fifty percent of applicants to do research in Laos. In contrast, six percent of applicants applying to teach English in Belgium were successful compared to sixteen percent of applicants to do research in Belgium.[2][3]

The Fulbright Program is adminstered by cooperating organisations like the Institute of International Education. It operates in over 160 countries around the world.[4] The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors the Fulbright Program from an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress. Additional direct and in-kind support comes from partner governments, foundations, corporations, and host institutions both in and outside the U.S.[5] In each of 49 countries, a bi-national Fulbright Commission administers and oversees the Fulbright Program. In countries without a Fulbright Commission but that have an active program, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy oversees the Fulbright Program. More than 360,000 persons have participated in the programme after it began. Fifty-four Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes;[6] 82 have won Pulitzer Prizes.[7]

History

The Fulbright Program aims to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.[8]

— Senator J. William Fulbright

In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright proposed a bill to use the proceeds from selling surplus U.S. government war property to fund international exchange between the U.S. and additional countries. With the crucial timing of the aftermath of the Second War and with the pressing establishment of the United Nations, the Fulbright Program was an attempt to promote peace and understanding through educational exchange. The bill devised a plan to forgo the debts foreign countries amassed throughout the war and in return for funding an international educational program. It was through the belief that this programme would be an essential vehicle to promote peace and mutual understanding between individuals, institutions and future leaders wherever they might be.[9]

If we don't want to die together in war, we must learn to live together in peace.[10]

— President Harry S. Truman

On August 1, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law, and Congress created the Fulbright Program in what became the largest education exchange programme in history.

Since it began, the programme has operated on a bi-national basis; each country active in the Fulbright Program has entered into an agreement with the U.S. government. The first countries to sign agreements were China in 1947 and Burma, the Philippines, and Greece in 1948.[9]

Program

Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no additional form of communication can to the humanising of international relations.[2]

— Senator J. William Fulbright

The Fulbright Program works two ways: U.S. citizens might receive funding to go to a foreign country (U.S. Student Program, U.S. Scholar Program, Teacher Exchange Program, etc) and non-U.S. citizens might come to the U.S. (Foreign Student Program, Visiting Scholar Program, Teacher Exchange Program, etc).

Candidates recommended for Fulbright grants have high academic achievement, a compelling project proposal and/or statement of purpose, demonstrated leadership potential, and flexibility and adaptability to interact successfully with the host community abroad.

Types of grants

Fulbright grants are offered in almost all academic disciplines except clinical medical research involving patient contact. Fulbright grantees' fields of study span the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, natural and physical sciences, and professional and applied sciences.[2]

Student grants

  • The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to research, study, or teach English abroad for one academic year.
  • The Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables graduate students, young professionals and artists from abroad to conduct research and study in the United States. Some scholarships are renewed after the initial year of study.
  • The Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program provides opportunities for young English teachers from overseas to refine their teaching skills and broaden their knowledge of American culture and society while strengthening the instruction of foreign languages at colleges and universities in the United States.
  • The International Fulbright Science and Technology Award, a component of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, supports doctoral study at leading U.S. institutions in science, technology, engineering or related fields for outstanding foreign students. This programme is currently on hiatus.
  • The Fulbright-mtvU Fellowships award up to four U.S. students the opportunity to study the power of music as a cultural force abroad. Fellows conduct research for one academic year on projects of their own design about a chosen musical aspect. They share their experiences throughout their Fulbright year via video reports, blogs and podcasts.
  • The Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship provides the opportunity for U.S. students to serve in professional placements in foreign government ministries or institutions to gain hands-on public sector experience in participating foreign countries.

Scholar grants

  • The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends American faculty members, scholars and professionals abroad to lecture and/or conduct research for up to a year.
  • The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at overseas academic institutions for a period of two to six weeks.
  • The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program and Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program bring foreign scholars to lecture and/or conduct post-doctoral research for up to a year at U.S. colleges and universities.
  • The Fulbright Regional Network for Applied Research (NEXUS) Program is a network of junior scholars, professionals and mid-career applied researchers from the United States, Brazil, Canada, and additional Western Hemisphere nations in a year-long programme that includes multi-disciplinary, team-based research, a series of three seminar meetings, and a Fulbright exchange experience.

Teacher grants

  • The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program supports one-to-one exchanges of teachers from K–12 schools and a small number of post-secondary institutions.
  • The Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program sends teachers abroad for a semester to pursue individual projects, conduct research, and lead master classes or seminars.

Grants for professionals

  • The Hubert H. Humphrey Program brings outstanding mid-career professionals from the developing world and societies in transition to the United States for one year. Fellows participate in a non-degree programme of academic study and gain professional experience.
  • The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends American scholars and professionals abroad to lecture and/or conduct research for up to a year.
  • The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at overseas academic institutions for a period of two to six weeks.
  • The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study abroad for one academic year. The Program additionally includes an English Teaching Assistant component.
  • The Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables graduate students, young professionals and artists from abroad to conduct research and study in the United States. Some scholarships are renewed after the initial year of study.

Fulbright-Hays Program

A portion of the Fulbright Program is a Congressional appropriation to the United States Department of Education for the Fulbright-Hays Program. These grants are awarded to individual U.S. K through 14 pre-teachers, teachers and administrators, pre-doctoral students and post-doctoral faculty, as well as to U.S. institutions and organizations. Funding supports research and training efforts overseas, which focus on non-western foreign languages and area studies.[2]

Budgetary reductions forced the Department of Education to cancel a large number of Fulbright-Hays Programs for the financial year of 2011, which have after been reinstated.[2]

Administration

The programme is coordinated by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State under policy guidelines established by the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB), with the help of 50 bi-national Fulbright commissions, U.S. embassies, and cooperating organisations in the U.S.[5]

The U.S. Department of State is responsible for managing, coordinating and overseeing the Fulbright program. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is the bureau in the Department of State that has primary responsibility for the administration of the program.

The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board is a twelve-member board of educational and public leaders appointed by the President of the United States that determines general policy and direction for the Fulbright Program and approves all candidates nominated for Fulbright Scholarships.

Bi-national Fulbright commissions and foundations, most of which are funded jointly by the U.S. and partner governments, develop priorities for the program, including the numbers and categories of grants. More specifically, they plan and implement educational exchanges, recruit and nominate candidates for fellowships; designate qualified local educational institutions to host Fulbrighters; fundraise; engage alumni; support incoming U.S. Fulbrighters; and, in a large number of countries, operate an information service for the public on educational opportunities in the United States.[2]

In a country active in the programme without a Fulbright commission, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy administers the Fulbright Program, including recruiting and nominating candidates for grants to the U.S., overseeing U.S. Fulbrighters on their grant in the country, and engaging alumni.

Established in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I, the Institute of International Education was created to catalyse educational exchange. In 1946, the U.S. Department of State invited IIE to administer the graduate student component and CIES to administer the faculty component of the Fulbright Program—IIE's largest programme to date.[2]

The Council for International Exchange of Scholars is a division of IIE that administers the Fulbright Scholar Program.

AMIDEAST administers Fulbright Foreign Student grants for grantees from the Middle East and North Africa (except Israel).

LASPAU: Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas administers the Junior Faculty Development Program, a part of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, for grantees from Central and South America and the Caribbean.

American Councils for International Education (ACTR/ACCELS) administers the Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP), a special academic exchange for grantees from the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Southeast Europe.

The Academy for Educational Development administers the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program and the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program.

The Fulbright Association is an organisation independent of the Fulbright Program and not associated with the U.S. Department of State. The Fulbright Association was established on Feb. 27, 1977, as a private nonprofit, membership organisation with over 9,000 members. The late Arthur Power Dudden was its founding president. He wanted alumni to educate members of the U.S. Congress and the public about the benefits of advancing increased mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of additional countries. In addition to the Fulbright Association in the U.S., independent Fulbright Alumni associations exist in over 75 countries around the world.

The Fulbright Academy is an organisation independent of the Fulbright Program and not associated with the U.S. Department of State. A non-partisan, non-profit organisation with members worldwide, the Fulbright Academy focuses on the professional advancement and collaboration needs among the 100,000+ Fulbright alumni in science, technology and related fields. The Fulbright Academy works with individual and institutional members, Fulbright alumni associations and additional organisations interested in leveraging the unique knowledge and skills of Fulbright alumni.

Notable alumni

Fulbright alumni have occupied key roles in government, academia, and industry. Of the 325,000+ alumni:

The following list is a selected group of notable Fulbright grant recipients:[19]

J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding

The J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, established in 1993, is awarded by the Fulbright Association to recognise individuals who have made extraordinary contributions toward bringing peoples, cultures, or nations to greater understanding of others.

Fulbright Prize laureates

PersonYearCountry
Nelson Mandela1993 South Africa
Jimmy Carter1994 United States
Franz Vranitzky1995 Austria
Corazon Aquino1996 Philippines
Václav Havel1997 Czech Republic
Patricio Aylwin1998 Chile
Mary Robinson1999 Ireland
Martti Ahtisaari2000 Finland
Kofi Annan2001 Ghana
Sadako Ogata2002 Japan
Fernando Henrique Cardoso2003 Brazil
Colin Powell2004 United States
Bill Clinton2006 United States
Desmond Tutu2008 South Africa
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation2010 United States
Médecins Sans Frontières2012 France
Hans Blix2014 Sweden