History of Fulbright

Shortly after World War II, Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas initiated the legislation that led to the Fulbright Program for promoting “mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world.” Since then thousands of students, teachers, scholars and professionals have worked in as many as 140 countries. The Fulbright Program remains one of the most successful U.S. initiatives to foster global understanding. For more information go to http://www.cies.org/senator_fulbright.htm.


Since the establishment of the Fulbright Program, more than 42,000 Americans and 158,000 participants from other countries have benefited from the Fulbright experience. Currently, the U.S. Student Program annually awards approximately 1,000 grants to U.S. citizens to study overseas. In addition, approximately 3,000 non U.S. nationals are currently in the U.S. on a Fulbright Grant. Prominent alumni include former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, author Jonathan Franzen, opera singer Renee Fleming, and other leading Americans in all fields.

Foreign Scholarship Board

  • The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB) was created by the U.S. Congress to supervise the U.S. government's premier international educational exchange program, the Fulbright Program. The board, which is appointed by the president of the United States, consists of 12 members drawn from academic, cultural and public life. Each member serves a three-year term. (A complete list of current members can be found here.)
  • The intent of Congress in creating the board was to establish an impartial and independent body which would assure the respect and cooperation of the academic world for the educational exchange program, particularly in the selection of grantees and of educational institutions qualified to participate.
  • The FSB sets policies and procedures for administration of the Fulbright Program, has final responsibility for selection of all grantees, and supervises the conduct of the program both in the United States and abroad.

Fundings and Administration

  • The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by Congress to the United States Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions also contribute financial support through direct cost-sharing, as well as through tuition waivers, university housing, and other benefits.
  • Overseas, the Fulbright Program is facilitated by binational Fulbright commissions and U.S. embassies. Thanks to executive agreements between the U.S. and foreign governments, over 50 of these Commissions have been founded to help fund and administer the Fulbright Program and conduct other educational exchanges.
  • The Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, provides budget, administrative and staff support for the program, and negotiates agreements covering educational exchanges with foreign governments. In countries where no Fulbright Commission exists, the Bureau coordinates management of the Fulbright Program with United States embassies and posts.