16 teachers outside holding Indiana University of Pennsylvania flags in front of a yellow wooden building

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching

Through the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching (Fulbright DAI) program, Finnish primary and secondary school teachers can gain fresh perspectives and deeper understanding of an educational topic of their choice by pursuing an inquiry project, by auditing courses for professional development at a host university in the U.S., and by visiting schools and sharing expertise with teachers and students.
The application period has ended for fall semester 2025.

Overview of the Grant Program

The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching (Fulbright DAI) invites teachers for a semester-long program in the U.S. beginning in August 2025. The program will provide approximately 45 international educators from 16 countries with a professional development program at a U.S. university. The program includes academic coursework, leadership training, instructional technology seminars, and opportunities to observe, co-teach, and share their expertise in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. Each participant will also complete an individual or group project relevant to their practice. Cultural enrichment, mentoring, and support will be provided throughout the program.

2017-2018 Finnish Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grantees presenting Finland
Fulbright Finland exchanges allow people to go abroad to experience how things can be done differently, and inspire them to change things for the better in their home countries as well. This is a truly unique chance to do something for the greater good and to help underserved students all over the world. - Emilia Heimonen, Fulbright DAI grantee 2017-2018

Participating teachers will be placed in groups of approximately 25 at U.S. university schools of education. U.S. host universities will be selected through a competitive process. They will be responsible for designing a specialized orientation and seminars for the teachers, and will ensure that each group has access to a variety of professional development activities. Faculty advisors will guide the participants in the refinement and implementation of their projects.

The Goals of the Fulbright DAI Grant Program Are

  1. To promote mutual understanding between teachers, their schools and communities in the U.S. and abroad by building teachers’ and students’ global competencies and by sharing best educational practices internationally
  2. To provide professional development to enhance educators’ expertise in their disciplines and furnish them with a deeper understanding of best practices in education
  3. To contribute to improving education in participating countries by preparing participants to serve as educational leaders who are equipped to apply and share their experiences and skills with their colleagues and students upon returning home
"The Fulbright DAI program will provide you with the best professional training you can ever get anywhere. You will have a chance to meet and exchange ideas with Americans and people around the world. This experience has given me new insights not only into education, but different cultures, religions, values and international cooperation. It has truly been a life-changing experience for me." Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program Grantee 2019-20

Activities during the Fulbright DAI Program

During the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program the participants will:

  1. Design and complete an individual or group research project of direct relevance to their educational practice.
  2. Participate in advanced undergraduate or graduate level classes at a U.S. host university.
  3. Observe classes, co-teach, and share their expertise with U.S. colleagues in U.S. elementary or secondary schools.
  4. Participate in an online professional learning community with other participants to share educational practices with a global network of colleagues; and
  5. Engage in other education and cultural activities while on program in the United States.

Upon returning to Finland, the participants will be expected to share the knowledge and experience gained during the program with colleagues and students in their home school and within their communities.

The Fulbright DAI program is not designed for PhD research. The program is practice-based and primarily focused on education leadership and sharing best practices in education. 

Read about 2019-20 Fulbright DAI grantee Tuija's experiences in Syracuse University from Tempus, as well has her takeaways from an educational conference she attended during her grant term! 

University Coursework:
University staff and an assigned faculty advisor will recommend audit courses that best meet each grantee’s program goals, align with the participant’s research project, and support the enhancement of the participant’s professional educational practice. The host university will provide coursework on a wide range of topics, including curriculum development, second language instruction, comparative education, educational leadership, and teaching methodologies, among others, from which participants can choose.

University Faculty Advisor:
Each Fulbright Distinguished Teacher will work closely with a faculty advisor. The advisor will be a faculty member or other individual who will provide feedback and guidance as the educator develops their research project.

Research Project:
Throughout the semester at the U.S. host university, each program participant will participate in activities that support the completion of an individual or a group project. University program staff and an assigned faculty advisor will assist participants in refining and completing the project.

U.S. School Placements:
Participants will be placed in a U.S. elementary or secondary school during a portion of their time in the U.S., where they will form connections with U.S. educators and classrooms, observe classes, co-teach, and share their expertise and information about their home communities and schools. Participants will be paired with a U.S. partner educator at their assigned school to help them learn more about the U.S. 3 educational system and to serve as a guide during their school placements. Host university staff will identify schools located near the university campus that are appropriate to each grantee’s interests and areas of expertise. Participants will also have an opportunity during the program to visit other schools and engage in school activities outside of the classroom.

Online Professional Learning Community:
Each Fulbright Distinguished Teacher will participate in a virtual community with other international participants to collaborate and share best practices about education and leadership in the participating countries and territories.

Fulbright Seminar:
Distinguished Teachers will participate in a Fulbright seminar at their host university featuring discussions led by university staff, faculty members, and invited guests. The seminar topics will focus on reflecting on the field experience, shaping the research projects, and examining trends and current issues in education, such as curriculum, instruction and learning, assessment, instructional technology, studentcentered learning, and teacher leadership, among other topics that are of interest to participants. Participants will collaborate with host universities to shape the seminar topics and focus. During the seminars, participants will also share their expertise, experience, and information about their home community educational system with each other. The seminar will also touch on thematic topics like climate education and digital literacy.

"The best influence was all the international connections I made during my stay in Arizona State University. I got to see my own work from far and understood what is good in it and what there is to change. There is great diversity within and between education systems. Although many national systems have similar industrial characteristics, there are different levels of prescription and control. The simple fact which I have experienced in my own school - and I found it also in Griffith Elementary, where I taught during my stay, is that students need teachers who connect with them and who believe in them. The key to rising achievement is to recognize that teaching and learning is a relationship. “One size fits all” doesn’t work.  Every child deserves a teacher who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be." Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program Grantee 2018-2019

Benefits of the Fulbright DAI program

Travel: IREX will make international travel arrangements and provide all participants with an international airline ticket. Participants will also be reimbursed for round-trip travel expenses between their home city and the point of departure for the United States. Participants will be given the option of traveling after the end of their program during the thirty day grace period of the J-1 visa, provided that all conditions in the Terms and Conditions are met and global health conditions permit.

Housing: Participants will live near the host university campus in housing that is arranged for them.

Finances: Each Fulbright Distinguished Teacher will receive a maintenance allowance during the program to cover expenses such as supplies for classes, household items, personal items, medical co-payments, and for cultural and other activities. This allowance will also include a daily stipend for purchasing groceries, meals at local restaurants, or food from on-campus dining services. Costs associated with housing, required program activities, and other program-related expenses are paid in advance by the Fulbright DAI Program. Participants will also receive a professional development allowance to use to fund conference attendance, print and online educational resources, research project research travel, and other items that contribute to the participants’ professional goals during the program.

Other benefits include networks with educators from around the world. Read more about the friendships built during the FDAI program! 

"The Fulbright DAI program offered me an unforgettable, life-changing experience. It is the perfect combination of professional development, American culture, and learning from teacher colleagues from all over the world. The program gave me a change to take a needed break from working life, develop my teaching skills, find out who I want to be as a teacher, and build connections that will benefit both me and my home institution."
- Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program grantee 2023-24

Family members

We regret that children and spouses are not permitted to accompany teachers during the program. The reason for this policy is because of challenges procuring housing for semester program. In the U.S., it is nearly impossible to secure short term leases in university communities and rental costs continue to increase. Additionally, university coordinators have struggled over the last several years to provide support that dependents need. Participants are encouraged to plan family visits and travel during the 30-day grace periods before the start of program and at the end of program. 


The candidate should have:

  • A full-time position as a primary or secondary educator (including teachers in any subject, primary and secondary library level media specialists, guidance counselors, curriculum specialists, special education coordinators, and other educators including administrators) who work and interact with primary or secondary students at least 50% of their time.
  • At least three years of full-time teaching experience by the start of the program in August 2025 (five or more years preferred). Other educators (librarians, guidance counselors, administrators, etc.) must have a similar level of experience. Candidates should be planning to continue working in elementary or secondary education for at least five years after the conclusion of the program.
  • Proven track record of professional development activities and demonstrated leadership potential
  • The ability to function well in an intensive and collaborative learning environment with teachers from around the world 
  • Finnish citizenship and residency in Finland
  • Good written and oral English language skills

The Fulbright Finland Foundation encourages all eligible applicants to apply regardless of their background.

Grantees with Disabilities

If you have a disability that would cause additional costs for the grant term, contact the Foundation to discuss reasonable accommodations. Email the Foundation ([email protected]) by the grant application deadline your self-assessment with a description of the disability and the specific accommodations requested.

Please note that disclosing the need for disability accommodation does not affect the review and selection process.

The candidate should also comply with other requirements as indicated in the application. Preference will be given to candidates who have not had substantial recent professional experience in the U.S.

"Discussions with other educators from the U.S. and around the world were amazing. I learned so much about myself as a teacher, my own country, the U.S., about the other fellows' countries and educational systems. Now I can take the best parts of every educational system to my teaching." Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program grantee 2021-22

How to Apply?

Applications with all the required attachments should be submitted by March 20, 2024.

The application is to be completed through the IREX Electronic Application. The Fulbright Finland Foundation will only accept applications submitted through the application system.

Start the application by reading the instructions for filling out the electronic application and looking at the model application.

Your electronic application must include the following documents:

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. Please contact us immediately if you are unable to print and scan documents, and are in need of fillable PDF versions that can be completed electronically. 

After you have submitted your application we recommend for you to download it to your own files. This is possible from the Download Application PDF button located in the top right corner of the application system.

With any questions, please contact Mirka Mc Intire at the Fulbright Finland Foundation.

Additional information on applying can be found from the website of our U.S. partner IREX.


You will receive an email from the Fulbright Finland Foundation if your application has passed an initial screening and you have been selected for an interview. At the very latest you will be notified of this a week before the date of your interview. Please note that the Fulbright Finland Foundation does not cover expenses resulting from the interview. 

The interviews are compulsory and will take place virtually via Zoom or Teams. Read more about the selection process and preparing for the interview here.

The Fulbright Finland Foundation Board of Directors will select applications to be forwarded to the U.S. for consideration.
The final review of the international candidates and the selection of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program nominees from the international candidate pool will be conducted by the Teacher Exchange Branch in the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The Fulbright Finland Foundation organizes a mandatory pre-departure orientation for all grantees in May 2025. All grantees are expected to attend.

Application period startsDecember 20, 2023
Information Session: Inspiration and Tips from Alumni (Register for the event!)January 17, 2024
Application period endsMarch 20, 2024
Interview invitations go outOne week prior to the interviews
Interviews take place via ZoomApril 29, 2024
Pre-departure orientation seminar in Helsinki for all Fulbright Finland grantees going to the U.S.May 2025, exact date TBC
Program beginsAugust 2025


Alumni Listing and Experiences

Find out who are the Fulbright DAI alumni, what were their inquiry projects about and read their blogs!

Fulbright Finland Outreach Ambassadors are happy to share their experiences from the U.S. Feel free to contact them.

Program Partners

The Fulbright DAI program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered in the U.S. by IREX and by the Fulbright Finland Foundation in Finland.


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.
Global Fulbright Program logo

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program is part of the global Fulbright program operating in over 160 countries worldwide.