The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright–Hays Program, is an American scholarship program 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 American citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad; and citizens of other countries may qualify to do the same in the United States of America. The program was established to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. It is considered to be one of the most widely recognized and prestigious scholarships in the world.
The Fulbright Program provides 8,000 grants annually to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university lecturing, and classroom teaching.
The Fulbright Program is administered by cooperating organizations like the Institute of International Education. It operates in over 160 countries around the world. 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. 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 program since it began. Fifty-nine Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes; eighty-two have won Pulitzer Prizes.
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.— 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 other 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 during the war and in return for funding an international educational program. It was through the belief that this program would be an essential vehicle to promote peace and mutual understanding between individuals, institutions and future leaders wherever they may be.
If we do not want to die together in war, we must learn to live together in peace.— 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 program in history.
Since it began, the program 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.
Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.— Senator J. William Fulbright
The Fulbright Program works two ways: U.S. citizens may 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 may 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 or statement of purpose, demonstrated leadership potential, and flexibility and adaptability to interact successfully with the host community abroad.
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.
The program 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 organizations in the U.S.
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 many countries, operate an information service for the public on educational opportunities in the United States.
In a country active in the program 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 catalyze 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 program to date.
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 total budget of the program was $236,485,000 in 2014 
The Fulbright Association is an organization 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 organization 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 other 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 organization independent of the Fulbright Program and not associated with the U.S. Department of State. A non-partisan, non-profit organization 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 other organizations interested in leveraging the unique knowledge and skills of Fulbright 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:
The J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, established in 1993, is awarded by the Fulbright Association to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions toward bringing peoples, cultures, or nations to greater understanding of others.
|Nelson Mandela||1993||South Africa|
|Jimmy Carter||1994||United States|
|Václav Havel||1997||Czech Republic|
|Fernando Henrique Cardoso||2003||Brazil|
|Colin Powell||2004||United States|
|Bill Clinton||2006||United States|
|Desmond Tutu||2008||South Africa|
|Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation||2010||United States|
|Médecins Sans Frontières||2012||France|
|Richard Lugar||2016||United States|