Pirita Tolvanen sitting by a desk with posters behind her on a wall

ASLA-Fulbright Mid-Career Professional Development Grant

The ASLA-Fulbright Mid-Career Professional Development Program (MCPD) is intended for professionals and specialists in various fields.
The application round for the academic year 2024-25 ended on October 3.


What is the purpose of the ASLA-Fulbright MCPD program and who is it aimed for?

  • To allow professionals from various fields to pursue a project, further education, or training that would enhance their professional development and the field at large
  • The program is aimed towards Finnish mid-career professionals who are at a point in their careers when the maximum benefit will ensue from this period of professional enrichment
  • An academic degree is not a requirement for applying

How to create a professional project?

The applicant should create a project that may include:

  • studies,
  • practical experience in actual operations,
  • visits to organizations in the applicant's professional field,
  • public lectures,
  • or other appropriate professional experiences.

Applicants are required to independently arrange their own host organization/institution, as the Fulbright Finland Foundation does not arrange such affiliations.  

The focus of the grant cannot be aimed at academic research or full-time studies in the U.S. If you are looking for grants to study in an American university or to pursue academic research, read about the 

MCPD Sirpa Kokko smiling next to a sign saying "Sirpa Kokko, School of Art, Design, and Art History, Fulbright Scholar"
In today’s world, there is an abundance of information available about cultures all around the world. However, the personal contacts between people from different countries and hearing their personal stories is the best way to overcome cultural barriers. The Fulbright Finland Foundation has made it possible for so many Finns, luckily now including me, to visit the U.S. and exchange ideas about their professional fields and their respective societies and cultures. After my Fulbright scholarship, my understanding and appreciation of the U.S. has risen and I will do my best to share this experience in Finland. - Sirpa Kokko, Finnish MCPD-grantee 2018-19

What are the benefits of the ASLA-Fulbright MCPD program?

  • A maximum award of USD 15 000 for a grant period of 3-12 months during 2024-25
  • Full support services provided by the Fulbright Finland Foundation, including
    • Free visa to the U.S.;
    • Personal guidance;
    • Extensive orientation training to the U.S. culture, higher education system, and details for the upcoming Fulbright period including online materials, virtual meetings, and orientation day in Helsinki;
    • supplemental ASPE health benefit
    • Fulbright Enrichment Seminars,
    • leisure activities provided by IIE
    • and a worldwide Fulbright network of over 250,000 Fulbright grantees

A Fulbright grant also gives remarkable extra value to your career growth, as the grant is internationally recognized and respected. While in the U.S., the grantee may ask for guidance from IIE contact person. The contact person can especially help with matters regarding visas, taxation, etc. The IIE service page for Fulbright-grantees can be found here. 

Ambassadorial requirements

  • Cultural ambassador of Finland: You are motivated to learn about other cultures and share your own. The grantees contribute to the enhancement of the Finland-U.S. relations by acting as Ambassadors of their home country and institution and promoting cultural understanding.
  • Motivated to learn and share: You are motivated to develop your field of specialization and share your knowledge and learning during and after the grant term. After the grant term, you are interested in engaging as an alum.

What are the eligibility and visa requirements?

  • J-1 Visa: You will travel to the U.S. with an exchange visitor visa (the J-1 visa) organized by the Fulbright program.
  • Finnish citizenship: You must be a Finnish citizen. You cannot have Finnish-American dual citizenship or a permanent residence permit in the U.S. The grant cannot be given to an applicant who already resides in the U.S. 
  • Previous stay in the U.S. (for both applicant and family members): Due to the 12-month bar and 24-month bar regulations, if you and your family members have visited the U.S. with a J-1 or J-2 visa within the past 24 months, please contact the Fulbright Finland Foundation before applying.
  • Two-year home country residency requirement: Fulbright grantees cannot apply for a work permit or a migrant visa during the next two years after the Fulbright period. Fulbright grantees with J-1 visas are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement. It requires the grantee to return home for at least two years after the exchange visitor program. However, normal tourist visits and for example studying in the U.S. is possible. Read more about this requirement on the U.S. Department of State website.

Cost-sharing the grant with your institution?

  • The ASLA-Fulbright MCPD grant can be cost-shared with the applicant’s home institution/organization.
  • Applicants working in higher education institutions are required to find out the home institution’s view on sharing the grant costs.
  • Applicants from higher education institutions must attach the “cost-share agreement form” to the application even if the applicant’s home institution will not share costs of the grant.
  • For applicants who are not from higher education institutions, including the cost-share form is optional.
  • Read more about the cost-shared grant programs on the Fulbright Finland Foundation website.

Since there is a limited amount of ASLA-Fulbright MCPD grant funding available, cost-sharing with the applicant’s home institution/organization can play an important role. However, the ability to cost-share is not a requirement for applying for the grant.

Some applications submitted to the ASLA-Fulbright Mid-Career Professional Development Grant program may also be automatically considered for the following two award categories:

  • The Fulbright Finland Foundation partners with the KAUTE Foundation. Applications in the fields of Business, Economics and Technology submitted to the ASLA-Fulbright Mid-Career Professional Development Grant program are automatically considered also for the Fulbright-KAUTE Foundation Award.
  • Applications focusing on topics of current and global importance submitted to the ASLA-Fulbright Mid-Career Professional Development Grant program are automatically considered also for the Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges Award.

Please note that applicants (from higher education institutions) applying solely for the Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges Award do not need a cost-share commitment from their home organization.

How to apply?

The application is submitted through the IIE electronic application form.

Read the application instructions before filling out the application!

The application must include the following documents:

  • Project statement and a detailed description of the project aimed at pursuing further studies, training, or other appropriate professional experiences that would enhance your professional development and the wider field
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Invitation letter(s) from the U.S. host organization(s). Applications without a letter of invitation will not be reviewed. Non-academic affiliations require special review and approval is not always granted.
  • Three recommendation letters written in English. Contact your referees and register your referee information in the online application as early as possible. Referees need to submit their recommendations by the application deadline through the online system. Read instructions for submitting a letter of recommendation.
  • A preliminary project budget 
  • A signed checklist
  • Letter of support from home institution (cost-share agreement form) if applicable.

Only complete applications sent by the application deadline will be reviewed. Applications that are late or incomplete will not be reviewed.

Evaluation criteria

  • The originality and innovativeness of the application
  • The clarity and viability of the application
  • Professional or academic readiness and competence
  • Arguments for completing the professional development project in the United States
  • Contribution of the project to the advancement of knowledge in the candidate’s field
  • Contribution of the project to the objectives of the Fulbright Finland Foundation and the global Fulbright Program
  • Personal qualities assessed during the interview; adaptability and suitability of the candidate to act as a Fulbright Ambassador for Finland

As part of the application review process, IIE, our U.S. partner organization, will screen the applications to identify any instance of plagiarism.

Applicants with little to no experience in the U.S. may be placed before others in the application process. The number of granted awards changes every year.


Applicants that pass an initial screening will be invited for a personal interview. Please note that the Fulbright Finland Foundation does not cover the expenses resulting from the interview.

The interviews are compulsory and will take place online on November 10, 2023. Candidates invited to the interviews will be notified via email by November 1, 2023. A copy of a passport will be requested prior to the interviews.

The applicant should reserve 20 minutes for the interview. The interview committee consists of 3-5 Finnish or American members and the language of the interview is English.

Read more about the selection process and preparing for the interview here.


Application period starts April 3, 2023
Information session about the MCPD-program May 10, 2023
Application period ends October 3, 2023
Interview invitations are sent to the selected candidates November 1, 2023
Interviews are conducted November 10, 2023
Selections are made Before December 23, 2023
Mandatory program-specific online meeting TBC
Mandatory pre-departure orientation May 2024 (TBD)
Leaving for the U.S. August 2024 - May 2025


Alumni tips for being in contact with potential host institutions

  • Catchy subject line for the email is important (example: Fulbright candidate Mikko from Finland looking for a host organization for project on Aug-Dec 2024)
  • Start with a short and to the point introduction about yourself and what is it that you do (a few sentences), and explain what you want to accomplish in the U.S. through your project (a couple of sentences).
  • Explain why you are contacting the specific organization (remember praises), what is expected of the host institution and what is not. Clarify what you need from the organization, and what you don’t need (e.g. do you need an office or a computer). You should explain that you are not seeking salary, will have your own insurance for the duration of your stay and will arrange your own accommodation.  If you are hoping that your host organization connects you with their contacts, explain that as well, and mention if you plan on being very independent with your project.
  • Highlight how you could contribute to the host organization and how they could benefit from hosting you (a few sentences).
  • Remember well wishes for the end and all your contact information (add a link for your digital CV, Twitter, and LinkedIn if you are active in Social Media).
  • If you don’t hear back in about a week, email them again (maybe a couple of times) and/or follow-up with a phone call and/or offer Skype and/or WhatsApp call as an alternative. If there are no answers look for another organization.


Keep your first messages concise and to the point, remembering politeness. Remember to mention your needs and expectations and what you don’t need. Explain how the organization will benefit from hosting you.
Your Finnish
sisu will be rewarded, so don’t become discouraged if the first option doesn’t work out!

Alumni tips for networking in the United States

  • Business cards are a must in the U.S.!
  • It’s good to learn to express yourself enthusiastically. You should almost be over-kind.
  • Do as much research into your trip as possible. Find possible contacts, print business cards, acquire Finland-related souvenirs (e.g. chocolate) to take to the most important contacts.
  • Remember that emails should be answered promptly.
  • Kindness, constant gratitude, politeness, and humor are essential when networking in the U.S.
  • Be well prepared for meetings so that you are able to discuss topics which are, for instance, not readable online.
  • Contact interviewees and people who help you with a follow-up message immediately after the interview/meeting. Keeping in touch is very important in the US culture.


Create a few sentence pitches on your project and your expertise, even if it would be a little bit too straightforward to what the reality is. You will need to answer this hundreds of times and people love confident answers and also in the U.S. people seem to have little bit difficult understanding expertise or work outside their own familiar fields. You feel better yourself too when you don't need to stumble and mumble something vague. MCPD Grantee 2016
  • Making friends as an adult (and with Americans) is surprisingly difficult. Contact everyone you know and talk to your friends and ask them to introduce you to people.
  • It’s good to have contacts in the U.S. before the journey. If possible, visit the U.S. beforehand especially if you are planning to bring family with you for a longer duration of time.
  • The orientation day is important, as well as all the information available online.

Alumni experiences

Useful links

Help finding a host institution can be found from Finnish communities in the U.S. on the Finland.org website.

Get to know the American grantees in Finland through the Fulbright Speaker program. This is a great opportunity to build your U.S. network.

MCPD grantee Aulikki Pakanen and other visiting scholars at a pumpkin field

Olen saanut pohtia mielenkiintoisessa ympäristössä asioita, jotka kiinnostavat, jopa kiehtovat ja joiden seuraamiseen ei normaalityössä ole aikaa. Tavata ihmisiä, jotka ovat innostuneita samoista asioista, olematta kuitenkaan välttämättä samaa mieltä. Myös ajattelumaailmaani on tullut uusia näkökulmia. Unohtamatta amerikkalaiseen yhteiskuntaan ja muihin vieraileviin tutkijoihin tutustumista. - Aulikki Pakanen, Finnish MCPD Grantee 2019-2020


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

ASLA-Fulbright Mid-Career Professional Development Grant program is part of the global Fulbright program operating in over 160 countries worldwide.