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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Research Program

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Research 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.
The application period is closed.

Purpose of the Grant Program

The Fulbright Distinguished 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
"Teaching can be a wearing job; as a result, many American school districts struggle to combat "teacher burnout." My experience as a participant in this Fulbright Finland exchange reinvigorated my interest in the field of education, gave me time to reflect on my values as a teacher, and exposed me to exciting new ideas. I believe that my five months in Finland have added years to my teaching career since I will be returning to the US with fresh ideas and a renewed sense of purpose." - Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Grantee 2018-2019

Program Activities

Program participants will:

  1. Design and implement a research 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.

Research Project
As part of the application process, educators identify a topic relevant to their own educational practice that can be enhanced by collaboration with colleagues in another country.

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

Host Country Experience
During the spring semester, Fulbright Distinguished participants travel to their host location in Finland for three to six months, where they pursue their Research Projects with guidance from an advisor at a host institution. Participants also take courses pertaining to their professional goals. A U.S.-based educational consultant supports participants virtually throughout the program.

Online Professional Learning Community
Each Fulbright Distinguished participant will participate in a virtual global community with other participants 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.


"I expected that my Fulbright term in Finland would be a mind-blowing professional development experience, and it was. I knew that this opportunity would change me in ways that I could not predict, and it did. However, I could not have anticipated how profoundly it would impact me, nor that it would provide me with the chance to test myself on so many levels and to walk away knowing that I can trust my ability to survive and to thrive. I learned what it means to be full of wonder, curiosity, joy, and inspiration." - Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Grantee 2019-20


  • The program covers travel costs for the orientation and international field experience.
  • Additionally, each fellow receives a stipend to cover in-country expenses associated with participation in the program, such as housing, meals, transportation, and other necessary items.
  • The stipend is not intended to replace a program participant’s salary. Participating educators typically negotiate with their schools and districts regarding fully or partially paid leave and benefits. The amount of the stipend provided to each participant will depend on the host country, the duration of the host country experience, and other factors.
Going to the lake on a school day during the winter
"There are simply no words to express how transformational and life-altering my experience in Finland has been. This beautiful country became my second home and the incredible people here became my second family. I learned more about true values, life, and myself than I could have ever imagined, I made friends I wouldn't ever dream of having, and met people who inspired me to never stop dreaming. I have probably learned more from my Fulbright cohort and the alumni in these few months than in the past 10 years of my professional career. The cultural and educational opportunities that Fulbright Finland has provided us with are unparalleled and cannot be replicated by any other professional development program." - Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Grantee 2018-2019


Candidates must

  • Hold a U.S. citizenship
  • Reside in the United States, a U.S. territory, or a school associated with the Department of Defense Education Activity
  • Hold at least a bachelor's degree
  • Have had a minimum of three years of experience in a full-time student-facing role in a U.S. K–12 educational institution or school district
  • Be currently employed full-time with a minimum of 50% of contracted hours in a student-facing role in a U.S. K–12 educational institution or school district
  • Be able to demonstrate experience conducting and leading professional development activities
  • Have NOT resided abroad for five or more consecutive years in the six-year period preceding the date of application (a candidate who has lived outside the United States, a U.S. territory, or a school associated with the Department of Defense Education Activity for nine months or more during a calendar year is deemed to have resided abroad for that year)
  • NOT be seeking to carry out research for a PhD program in conjunction with their participation in the Fulbright DA Program
  • Be able to meet current Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) eligibility requirements regarding previous grants

Country Information

  • Eligible program dates:  January  –  June  2025  (program  lengths  can  vary;  departures  to  Finland  should  be  scheduled  between  January  7  and 19, 2025).
  • Language requirement: None
  • Host  institution:  Applicants should keep an open mind about their placement with Finnish host universities. The Fulbright Finland Foundation works with various Finnish higher education institutions to identify appropriate host universities for selected U.S. teachers. 
  • Dependent   Information:   An allowance of   $2,000 per eligible dependent will be provided as part of the Fulbright DA grant. If you have family members accompanying you to Finland, please read carefully the family-related advice and tips from the Guide for Coming to Finland. Guidance will be provided to teachers traveling to Finland with school-aged children,  or younger children requiring daycare placement. Please note that whereas the public schools run by the municipalities do not charge fees, private foreign language schools may charge tuition. Daycare options and fees vary by municipality. More information can be found from the InfoFinland website
  • Find more information on Finland's country profile here

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
  • Professional reference from the applicant’s school or district lead administrator
  • Professional reference from someone the applicant has worked with in a professional capacity
  • Leave Approval Form
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Verification of bachelor's degree conferred
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 startsDecember 2023
Application period endsFebruary 19, 2024
Program StartsJanuary 2025
Mandatory OrientationJanuary 2025


Alumni Listing and Experiences

Find out who are the Fulbright DA 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 Partner

The Fulbright DA program is administered in Finland by the Fulbright Finland Foundation and in the U.S. by IREX.

U.S. Flag and Seal and IREX logo


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.