The nature and character of the Fulbright Program were shaped in 1946 under legislation introduced by former Senator J. William Fulbright. Its aim is "to increase the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries". The Fulbright Program is one of the world's largest and most diversified educational exchange programs, and it currently operates in 140 countries, including 49 countries with binational Fulbright Commissions.
Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 grants are awarded yearly to Americans and foreign nationals. Participants are chosen on their academic and professional qualifications, record of achievement, career potential, and ability and willingness to share ideas and experiences with people of diverse cultures.
The Fulbright Program is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State under policy guidelines established by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Appointed by the President of the United States, the 12-member Board meets quarterly in Washington, D.C. The Board establishes worldwide policies and procedures for the Program and issues an annual report on the state of the Program. The Board maintains a close relationship with both the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the executive directors of all the binational Commissions.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) handles the day-to-day supervision of non-U.S. student grantees in the United States and assists in a preliminary review of American student candidates competing for awards.
The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), a division of IIE, conducts the preliminary selection of American lecture and research scholar candidates and assists in the day-to-day administration of the exchange program for research scholars and lecturers from outside the U.S.
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation by the United States Congress. Foreign governments and private organizations contribute through cost-sharing and indirect support, such as salary supplements, tuition waivers, university housing, etc.
A number of host country governments also contribute substantially to the Fulbright Program in their countries. In addition, private sponsors worldwide are a vital and necessary source of support to the Fulbright Program. Host institutions in the United States and throughout the world also contribute through cost-sharing and through indirect support such as salary supplements, tuition waivers, housing assistance, and other means.
The Fulbright Commission administers all data in compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is aimed at protecting the personal information of individuals who are data subjects in the European Union or whose personal data is processed by a European Union organization.