Two Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools participants laughing during a small group discussion in the Seminarium Festival hall at the University of Jyväskylä

Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools

The program brings K-12 school administrators to Finland for an intensive ten-day program to learn about the best educational practices to enhance student learning and to develop 21st century skills. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX in the U.S. and Fulbright Finland Foundation in Finland.

Purpose of the grant program

The Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program is a professional development opportunity for K–12 school and district administrators from the U.S. These administrators will travel to Finland for a 10-day immersive, international experience, and they will gain a deeper understanding of their roles as leaders in creating students who are ready for the global economy.

"I was able to engage in deep learning while being in school and university environments that enhanced my experience. Learning from Finnish educators and scholars caused me to reflect, question and shape my thinking around our US educational systems of support. I will forever be grateful for my FLGS experience and the relationships I built with my Finnish and American friends.  Thank you Fulbright Finland Foundation and the US State Department of Education and Cultural Affairs."
- Michele Miller, Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program participant 2019

The Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program in Finland will consist of briefings, panel discussions, seminars, and events with the aim to provide an overview of Finland’s education system (at national, municipal and school level), school leadership, National Core Curriculum, teacher training, and other relevant themes. Participants will visit schools in different parts of Finland, and the program will include an introduction to Finnish culture through cultural events and engagement.

FLGS program participants in Finland at the Sibelius Monument


The Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools fellowship covers program related costs including travel, lodging, professional development, and cultural activities.


At the time of application, the applicants must have the following:

  • Five or more years of experience working as a K–12 school and/or district administrator (principal, assistant principal, superintendent, assistant superintendent, dean, director, etc.)
  • Full-time employment as a K-12 school and/or district administrator at a public, charter, private (secular and religious) school or district in the U.S., a U.S. territory, or within the Department of Defense Education Activity
  • Master’s degree
  • U.S. citizen living in the U.S., a U.S. territory, or on a Department of Defense Education Activity Campus
  • Ability to travel for the entirety of the program

"Just like the Finnish Education system itself, the Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools program was an experiential, phenomenon-based, and cross-curricular undertaking. An emphasis on (modern) competencies and the wellness of the child as a whole was an obvious consideration in how the program was organized and planned. I am taking back with me the real-world applications of a curriculum that is based upon competencies and the application of knowledge, trust in the educators who have been charged with the implementation of instructing our students, and a focus on the wellness of the individual child."
- 2019 Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program Participant.

Selection Criteria

  • Track record of professional experience and effective leadership
  • Observable dedication to K-12 educational leadership and administration, and a commitment to leverage professional development opportunities for impact in schools and communities
  • Demonstrated efforts toward innovation and successes in improving the learning environment and overall academic progress of students
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences, and serve as an ambassador of the Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program
  • Priority will be shown for applicants working in high-need schools or districts, or with traditionally underserved populations, and for applicants from traditionally underrepresented areas in exchange programs
  • Preference will be given to applicants without significant professional experience (study, research, teaching, or employment) abroad

Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Current IREX employees and consultants and their immediate family members (spouses, parents, children, and siblings) are not eligible to compete in any grant programs that IREX implements. The U.S. Department of State and IREX do not discriminate against grant applicants because of race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established by U.S. law. This program promotes diversity in education. It supports inclusion and strongly encourages applicants with disabilities to apply.

Prior participants in the Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program are not eligible to apply.

Applications are reviewed and nominated by an independent committee of experts. Finalists are recommended to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for approval.

Interested candidates should review more information at the Fulbright Teacher Exchanges website

"I see the Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools program as a critical component of cross-pollination of good ideas between countries. Other Fulbright exchanges are wonderful, and can change the careers of individual teachers and the students they teach. However, having school leaders directly involved in their own exchanges (with first-hand learning about global education best practices) is perhaps the most powerful way to ensure that innovative best practices in education are implemented broadly. Principals and other school leaders are in a position to help directly implement innovations in a way that touches a broad spectrum of teachers, students, and families."
- 2019 Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Participant.

Alumni Experiences

Read the blog of Vanessa Jones here.
Click here to read a Fulbright Finland News article which interviewed several former Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools.
Click here to read the Daily Courier article on former Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools participant Clark Tenney. 

Program Partners

The Fulbright Leaders for Global Schools Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by IREX in the U.S. and Fulbright Finland Foundation in Finland.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries around the world. ECA strives to achieve this goal through a wide range of international exchanges as authorized by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended. ECA works in close cooperation with U.S. Embassies and bilateral Fulbright Commissions overseas to promote personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad.

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 Leaders for Global Schools Program is part of the global Fulbright program operating in over 160 countries worldwide.