Six people on bikes at the National Mall with the Capitol Building in the background

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders from Europe

This exciting summer program on Environmental Issues provides undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the Unites States while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills. Institute themes are confirmed annually. The program will cover travel, accommodation, studies and study tours in the United States, as well as program administration costs.

The U.S. Department of State announced that this is the last cohort of students in the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders from Europe program and the program will not continue after the summer 2024.

Program Overview

Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) for Student Leaders from Europe are intensive five-week academic programs whose purpose is to provide groups of up to 20 undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the U.S., while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.

The Institutes consist of a four-week academic residency with a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures. Site visits, leadership development, cultural activities, and community service complement the coursework and academic sessions. If conditions allow, the Institutes will include a one-week integrated study tour in the U.S. 

The Study of the U.S. Institutes will take place over the course of five weeks between June and August 2024, tentatively from June 25 to July 31, 2024. Exact program dates are typically confirmed in March.

Three SUSI Student Leaders from Europe grantees working on a vegetable patch.
2022-23 SUSI Student Leader Petra Karjalainen (middle) working with her fellow grantees.

Institute Descriptions

The Study of the U.S. Institute on Environmental Issues, hosted by Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, will provide participants with an overview of climate change along with its impact on local communities, natural resources, and the local economy.

Academic sessions and experiential learning opportunities will explore clean energy, sustainable development, the risks of natural disasters, and the intersection of climate justice and community activism.  To enhance the academic experience, the Institute will focus on specific themes and sub-topics such as strategic communication, social justice, emergency response, water rights, agriculture and food systems, biodiversity, and energy efficiency and sustainability.

Academic activities will be supplemented by opportunities to engage with the local community, including a weekend homestay and meeting with local environmental non-profits.  Program components may include hiking a section of the Appalachian trail, a visit to the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, and a kayak tour with the Susquehanna Riverkeepers, an environmental organization. 

Should conditions allow, the SUSIs for Student Leaders from Europe may begin with an Opening Forum in Washington, D.C., bringing together participants in all three different Institutes for networking, foundational leadership skills development, and exploring relevant topics from different perspectives.

Essential Information about the SUSI Program

Program funding: The program will cover all costs related to the program, including

  • program administration,
  • international and visa travel, travel allowances, domestic travel, and ground transportation,
  • book, cultural, mailing, and incidental allowances, and
  • housing and subsistence. 

Housing and meal arrangements: Housing will be in shared or single university dorms on campus or full-service hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities. Female and male participants will be housed in separate quarters.

In addition to regular group meals and a university meal plan, participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own. All participants will be expected to respectfully share communal spaces and any necessary responsibilities. Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.

Health benefits: While all participants will receive the Department of State's supplemental health benefit ASPE (with a $25 co-pay per medical visit and a $75 co-pay per emergency room visit) for the duration of the program in the U.S., participants are responsible for their own comprehensive health and travel insurance for the duration of the program. (Information on the health benefit program may be found online at

Program requirements and restrictions: Participants are expected to fully participate in the academic program. They should attend all lectures and organized activities, and complete assigned readings. The program is very intensive and there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program. Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program. 

Under no circumstances are participants allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the Institute or remain in the United States after its end date. To avoid the logistical difficulties of delayed arrivals, participants will be expected to make accommodations with their university and exam schedules to be able to arrive on the scheduled arrival day. Similarly, participants will not be permitted to leave the Institute to visit relatives or friends while in the U.S. If a relative or friend wishes to visit them, it will be considered on a case by case basis. Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute.

Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the SUSI will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program would consist of at least 36 hours of required programming and include both synchronous and asynchronous learning.  Virtual programming may include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, leadership development, individual assignments, and group activities.  Participants would be required to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their locations.

English language ability: All candidates must be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program. Host institutions will consider the varying levels of participants’ comprehension and speaking ability and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for students where English is their second or third language.

Fulbright Finland SUSI Student Leader from Europe Participant Inari Ahokas at Point Park
"SUSI is an amazing opportunity for young students to learn about different cultures and different ways of doing business and making a change in the world we live in. This experience will change the lives of the participants and broaden their views of the world. The program will give them an opportunity to make friends and professionals contacts all around the world." - Inari Ahokas, 2017 Study of the U.S. Institute on Social Entrepreneurship


The participants are expected to be highly motivated first through third year undergraduate students from universities, and universities of applied sciences, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. Their fields of study will be varied, and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields.

Finnish citizenship is not required. However, candidates recommended for the program from Finland will need to be in a position for applying new knowledge from the program in the Finnish context within Finland.
Candidates nominated for this program will:

  • be proficient in English;
  • be interested in the Institute topic;
  • be between 18 and no older than 25 years old by the start of the Summer Institute program in the U.S.;
  • have at least one semester left of their undergraduate studies, and therefore be committed to returning to their home universities/universities of applied sciences following completion of the program;
  • demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university/university of applied sciences and community activities;
  • indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
  • have a sustained high level of academic achievement, as indicated by grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
  • demonstrate commitment to community and extracurricular university/university of applied sciences activities;
  • have little if any prior study or travel experience in the United States, or elsewhere outside Finland;
  • be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful, and inquisitive;
  • be willing to respectfully engage with fellow participants representing different backgrounds and different points of view;
  • be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and educational travel; and,
  • be comfortable with campus life, prepared to share living accommodations, and able to make adjustments to cultural and social practices different from those of Finland.
  • be able to participate in the Fulbright Finland Foundation's full-day pre-departure orientation on May, 2024.
  • be prepared to submit a report to the Fulbright Finland Foundation on their program experience.

Participation in the Summer Institutes does not exclude participants from applying for Fulbright Finland Foundation grant programs later in their academic career and returning to the U.S. for example as a Fulbright Finland Undergraduate grantee, or on graduate or postdoctoral level as a Fulbright Student or Scholar.

Please note that U.S. citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) of the U.S. are not eligible for the program. Participants who have taken part in past SUSI programs are not eligible to apply. Relatives of U.S. embassy or the Fulbright Finland Foundation employees are not eligible to apply.

2017 SUSI Student Leaders from Europe on Environmental Issues Program Participants

How to Apply?

The application form, academic transcript and  CV should be submitted no later than Tuesday, November 28, 2023 (Finnish time) via this SurveyMonkey link: SUSI Student Leaders Application Submission

One letter of recommendation from an individual who knows you in a professional capacity is to be uploaded by the recommender via this link by the application deadline: SUSI Recommendation Letters

Application: Here is the Application Form for Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders from Europe. Save the form on your computer in order to return to fill it in.

A complete application includes the following:

  • U.S. Summer Institute Application Form
  • Official Academic Transcript
  • CV
  • One Letter of Recommendation

Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Fulbright Finland Foundation recommends starting your application by requesting the Letter of Recommendation in support of your application.


Applicants that pass an initial screening will be invited for a personal interview. The interviews are compulsory and will take place on January 8, 2023 virtually through Zoom. Candidates invited to the interviews will be notified via email before Christmas. Read more about the selection process and preparing for the interview here.

The Fulbright Finland Foundation will select one candidate and up to two alternate candidates per Institute to be forwarded to the U.S. for consideration. Final review of the international candidates and selection of the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders nominees from the multinational candidate pool will be conducted by the Study of the U.S. Branch of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in March 2024.

The Fulbright Finland Foundation organizes a pre-departure orientation, award ceremony and reception in May, 2024, in which participation is mandatory for all grantees. Please reserve all day for the event.

Application period startsOctober
Application period endsNovember 28, 2023
Interview invitations are sent out to selected candidatesDecember 22, 2023
InterviewsJanuary 8, 2024
Selections are madeMarch 2024
Pre-Departure orientationMay, 13 2024
Program startsJune/July 2024

Alumni Experiences

  • Fulbright Finland Outreach Ambassadors are happy to share their experiences from the U.S. Feel free to contact them.
  • Read experiences of SUSI Student Leader alumni from the articles they have written.

What is the Fulbright Finland Foundation?

The Fulbright Finland Foundation is a private, independent, not-for-profit organization based in Helsinki, Finland. The Foundation’s aim is

  • to promote a wider exchange of knowledge and professional talents through educational contacts between Finland and the United States, and
  • to support the internationalization of education and research in Finland, and help U.S. and Finnish institutions create linkages.

What Makes the Fulbright Finland Foundation Programs Unique?

  • In addition to the grant, the Fulbright Finland Foundation offers the grantees several additional benefits and free support services, as well as an access to a global, multi-professional network.
  • We are looking for applicants who want to impact the future and to make a difference – applicants who want to facilitate positive change, develop and advance their own profession or discipline, and find solutions to national and international challenges in their field.
  • The grantees also act as ambassadors for the Fulbright Finland Foundation, their home country, and their home organization and, in this way, do their part in sharing their home country and culture and contributing to the relations between Finland and the U.S.