The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright–Hays Program, is one of several United States Cultural Exchange Programs with the goal to improve intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, and intercultural competence between the American people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. Via the program, competitively-selected American citizens including students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists may receive scholarships or grants to study, conduct research, teach, or exercise their talents abroad; and citizens of other countries may qualify to do the same in the United States. The program was founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 and is considered to be one of the most widely recognized and prestigious scholarships in the world. The program provides approximately 8,000 grants annually – roughly 1,600 to U.S. students, 1,200 to U.S. scholars, 4,000 to foreign students, 900 to foreign visiting scholars, and several hundred to teachers and professionals.
The Fulbright Program is administered by cooperating organizations such as the Institute of International Education and operates in over 160 countries around the world. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State sponsors the Fulbright Program and receives funding from the United States Congress via annual appropriation bills. Additional direct and in-kind support comes from partner governments, foundations, corporations, and host institutions both in and outside the U.S. In 49 countries, a bi-national Fulbright Commission administers and oversees the Fulbright Program. In countries that have an active program but no Fulbright Commission, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy oversees the Fulbright Program. More than 370,000 people have participated in the program since it began; 60 Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes; 88 have won Pulitzer Prizes.