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About the fulbright program

Our history

Our history

The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government's flagship program in international educational exchange, was proposed to the U.S. Congress in 1945 by then freshman Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. In the aftermath of World War II, Senator Fulbright viewed the proposed program as a much-needed vehicle for promoting "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world." His vision was approved by Congress and the program signed into law by President Truman in 1946.

Fulbright grants are awarded to U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Since the program’s inception, approximately 279,500 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to exchange ideas and to contribute to finding solutions to shared issues.

Of these participants, 46,100 have been overseas academics and professionals who have conducted research or taught in U.S. universities as Fulbright Visiting Scholars, and more than 44,400 U.S. faculty and professionals who have engaged in similar activities abroad.

Both U.S. and Visiting Fulbright Scholars lecture or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields ranging from journalism and urban planning to music, philosophy, business administration and zoology.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Under a cooperative agreement with the Bureau, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) assists in the administration of the Fulbright Scholar Program for faculty and professionals.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions in foreign countries and in the United States also contribute financially through cost-sharing and indirect support, such as salary supplements, tuition waivers and university housing. The Congressional appropriation for the Fulbright Program in fiscal year 2006 was $184.6 million. Foreign governments, through their binationalcommissions or foundations, contributed an additional $50.4 million directly to the Fulbright Program.

Both public and private agencies in the United States assist in the administration of the Fulbright Program. Overseas, it is sponsored by binational Fulbright Commissions or by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassies. The Presidentially appointed J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board is responsible for the final selection of all Fulbright grantees and the supervision of the Fulbright Program worldwide.

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