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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.

Purpose of the Grant Program

The Fulbright Distinguishes Awards in Teaching Research Program (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’ competencies and sharing the 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.
Participants will pursue individual inquiry projects and practical research at a host university, educational 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 the best international practices in education, share professional expertise with educators and students in Finland, develop leadership skills and understanding of educational policy as well as enhance their abilities to work in diverse and multicultural environments.

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.

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

The Goals of the Fulbright DA Program Are

  1. Grow educators’ professional leadership skills
  2. Expand access to global networks
  3. Allow educators to inform research, policy, and practice
  4. Promote mutual understanding

Activities during the Fulbright DA Program

Participants will:

  1. Design and implement an inquiry project related to education in the United States and host country, Finland.
  2. Build global networks of researchers, practitioners, and policy makers.
  3. Exchange ideas and best educational practices.
  4. Develop resources and tools that can be used long after the project ends.

Upon returning home the participants will be expected to share knowledge and experience gained during the program with their home schools and communities.

Program Activities

Inquiry Project
Participating teachers identify a topic relevant to their own educational practice during the application process that can be enhanced by collaboration with colleagues in another country.
Projects should develop educational materials, workshops, or other resources to meet an educational need in the participant’s home country.

Orientation Workshop
Once selected, participating teachers gather in Washington, DC, for a professional learning orientation workshop to work with other participants and further develop strategies for the inquiry project design and implementation process.

International Field Experience
In the spring semester, Fulbright Distinguished fellows travel to their host location in Finland for three to six months, where they pursue their inquiry projects with guidance from an advisor at a host institution. Fellows also take courses pertaining to their professional goals. A U.S.–based educational consultant supports fellows virtually throughout the program.

Online Professional Learning Community
All Fulbright Distinguished fellows will participate in a virtual global community with other Fulbright DA fellows to collaborate and share educational practices.

Alumni Opportunities
After successfully completing the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Research Program, alumni may apply for grants and participate in global education networks to enhance and sustain the work they began during the program.


  • Program expenses are covered. Each participant receives a maintenance allowance that covers costs such as tuition, lodging, food, housing, transportation and materials. Maintenance allowances are administered by IREX.
  • There will be no cost to your school. Participants may take a leave of absence or sabbatical with or without pay for the length of their grant.


Fulbright Dinstinguished Awards in Teaching grantee Yvonne Allen

"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


Candidates must

  • Hold a 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 when 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

How to Apply?

You can find the Electronic Application here. 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.
Your electronic application must include the following documents:

  • Completed Online Application Form
  • Immediate Supervisor Reference Form
  • Professional Reference Form
  • Leave Approval Form
U.S. applicants should visit the IREX Website for application instructions, and contact IREX on questions related to selection processes and grant administration.


Application period starts October/November
Application period ends January 2019 (TBC)
Program Starts January 2020
Mandatory Orientation January 2020


Alumni Listing and Experiences

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

Program Partner

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.


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 Finnish higher education institutions.

What Makes the Fulbright program 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.