Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching in the United States and abroad. The program brings highly accomplished primary and secondary educators from the U.S. to pursue professional development projects in Finland.



Fulbright DA is a program for accomplished primary and secondary educators from the U.S. to travel to Finland for an intensive professional development program to promote mutual understanding among teachers, their schools and communities in the U.S. and abroad by building teachers and students’ competences and sharing best educational practices internationally. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is administered in the U.S. by IREX, and by Fulbright Finland Foundation in Finland.

The length of the program can be from 3 to 6 months long. U.S. teachers coming to Finland are required to start their program between January 7 and January 19, 2020. Fulbright Finland Foundation organizes an orientation in Helsinki at the end of January for all arriving grantees. Attendance to the orientation is mandatory. Participants will be placed at university-level schools of education or other types of educational institutions in Finland. Teachers can be placed in different university cities in Finland.

Photo: Martha Infante, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching 2017-2018

Participants will pursue individual inquiry projects and practical research at a host university, education institute or non-profit organization, audit courses for professional development, and observe and share their expertise with teachers and students at primary and secondary schools. Fulbright DA participants will study and observe international best practices in education, share professional expertise with educators and students in Finland, develop leadership skills and understanding of educational policy as well as to enhance their ability to work in diverse and multicultural environments.

When returning to the U.S. the Fulbright DA participants will need to integrate international best practices in education in the U.S. classroom, school and community as well as to integrate their inquiry project finding into the U.S. classroom or school. They should expand global and intercultural awareness of students and colleagues by sharing their Fulbright Experience and infusing their experience into classroom content or curriculum. Fulbright DA participants are also expected to develop partnerships and joint projects with schools and classrooms abroad.

Photo: Martha Infante, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching 2017-2018

Goals of the program

  • Grow educators’ professional leadership skills
  • Expand access to global networks
  • Allow educators to inform research, policy, and practice
  • Promote mutual understanding

Program Activities

  • Individual inquiry project: Teachers will pursue individual inquiry projects supported by practical research at a host institution throughout their professional development experience abroad.
  • Three- to six-month professional development experience abroad: Outstanding elementary, middle, and high school teachers from the United States have the opportunity to take part in a three- to six-month professional development experience abroad. Read about the Overview of the educational system in Finland.
  • Professional development courses: Host institutions will provide courses pertaining to the candidate’s subject area and/or inquiry project proposal.

The Fulbright experience has been extremely valuable to not only myself but my family. We have been able to see that there are other ways of doing things and other ways of living. This experience was not about visiting a country for a few days but rather a total immersion into a different culture and lifestyle. We now understand that there isn't just one way of doing things from education to balancing work we have a new appreciation for what is different from our normalcy"

Ebony Meyers-White, U.S.Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching 2017-2018, University of Jyväskylä

Essential Program Information

How long is this program and when does it take place? The length of the program can be from 3 to 6 months long.  U.S. teachers coming to Finland are required to start their program between January 7 and January 19, 2020. 

Is there an age limit? There is no age limit for participating in the program but participants must be practicing teachers who plan to apply what they learn in their careers for at least five years upon return to their home countries.

Are program expenses covered? Yes. Each participant receives a maintenance allowance that covers costs such as tuition, lodging, food, housing, transportation and materials. Maintenance allowances are administered by IREX.

Will there be any cost to my school? No. Participants may take a leave of absence or sabbatical with or without pay for the length of their grant.

Where will I live while I’m abroad? Host universities and Fulbright Finland Foundation will provide guidance on housing opportunities but fellows are responsible for securing their own housing/lease.

May I take my family with me abroad?  Yes. Many Fellows take their families with them to their host country. A stipend of $2000 per eligible family member will be provided if the family member resides with the Fellow abroad for 80% time or longer. Eligible family members include dependent children aged 21 or younger and married partners. A small stipend to offset eligible K-12 school tuition costs for dependents may be available, but the majority of expenses will be the responsibility of the Fellow. 

I have participated in other Fulbright programs. Am I eligible to apply for this program? Yes, however, preference will be given to candidates who have not received previous Fulbright grants.


  • Hold U.S. Citizenship
  • Be employed full-time at an accredited K-12 School
  • Hold a Master’s degree or be enrolled in a Master’s program at the grant begins
  • Be a teacher with a minimum of five years full-time teaching experience
  • Be able to demonstrate experience conducting and leading professional development activities
  • Be able to meet current J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB) eligibility requirements regarding previous grants

The Fulbright DA program is administered in Finland by the Fulbright Finland Foundation and in the U.S. by IREX.
U.S. applicants should visit the IREX Website for application instructions, and contact IREX on questions related to selection processes and grant administration.

Photo: Conducting Rantasalmi Wind Band

Music matters in Finland. My Fulbright experience not only opened classroom doors in Rauma, Kuopio, Rantasalmi, Helsinki, Jyväskylä, and other communities, but also allowed me to savor the sounds of symphony orchestras, intergenerational wind bands, and folk music ensembles . My discovery that Finnish music educators are more focused on the process than the product and embrace a philosophy of music for well-­‐being has greatly influenced my own teaching strategies and beliefs.

Music allows us to cross international borders and concurrently preserves our own national identity. I will never forget the beauty of Finland and the relationships I forged there. As a result of my Fulbright experience, I can now bring together the best practices of Finnish and American music educators and share them in my global classroom."

- Yvonne Allen, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching, University of Jyväskylä 2015

How to Apply

Applications with all the required attachments should be submitted no later than Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

Electronic Application

  • If you have applied to the program before you can update your previous application in the program. You will need your email address and password to return to the application.

Electronic application includes the following documents:

  • Completed Online Application Form
  • Immediate Supervisor Refrence Form

  • Professional Refrence Form

  • Leave Approval Form

Note: Individual files may not exceed 4 MB and must take less than 2 minutes to upload to the server. Any upload that takes more than 2 minutes to upload or is larger than 4 MB will fail.

More information can be read from website of our U.S. partner IREX.

Many high schools in Finland offer possibilities to conduct research project in cooperation with local universities. Each student is encouraged to take an action in the society, and to be a productive contributor in the field of her or his choice. I set my goals high and I was confident that the programs offered in Finland would meet my expectations, and it did.  Fulbright Finland made all this possible and I would love to see other teachers to have the same opportunity to educate students to become leaders in this world.”

Aulikki Pekkala-Flagan, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching, University of Helsinki 2017-2018

Contact Person in Finland:

Mirka McIntire
Manager, Teacher Exchange and Education Programs
+358 44 553 5269