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Fulbright Foreign Student Program


B’alam García (seating: third, from right to left) Guatemalan Fulbright Foreign Student. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in Art at the University of Illinois, Chicago.


Fulbright Foreign Student Program

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program (FFSP) enables graduate students, young professionals, and artists from abroad to pursue a master’s degree in the United States. The FFSP operates in more than 155 countries worldwide, and approximately 4,000 foreign students receive Fulbright scholarships each year. In Guatemala, the FFSP is administered by the U.S. Embassy. Since the inception of the program in 1949, there have been 1,154 Guatemalan Fulbright Foreign Student fellows.

The Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship gives Guatemalan citizens who fulfill all the eligibility requirements the possibility of pursuing a master’s degree in the United States.

The call for applications for the Fulbright Foreign Student 2023 Fellowship opens on April 13, 2023, and closes on May 31, 2023, at 23:59 EST.

Please be aware this is a highly competitive program. Read the information on this page and apply only if you fulfill all requirements. If you are considering applying, we recommend that you commence studying as soon as possible for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Am I eligible for this scholarship?

You must fulfill all the following requirements to be eligible:

  • Guatemalan citizen currently living in Guatemala. (U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible.)
  • You must be a graduate with either a bachelor’s (licenciatura) or master’s degree. Applicants who have not yet graduated (“pensum cerrado”) are not eligible.
  • Grade point average (GPA) of at least 85/100 in the Guatemalan system or ranked in the top 15 percent of your class. This must be confirmed by university-issued documents.
  • Advanced level of English (both spoken and written). This will be tested. If possible, please provide a recent TOEFL score. Selected candidates should be prepared to take the TOEFL test in June 2023 and need to obtain, at a minimum, an intermediate score.
  • At least two (2) years of full-time work experience in a field related to your studies. Full-time is defined as at least 30 hours a week.
  • Demonstrable leadership skills, highly motivated, and capacity to adapt.
  • Committed to the development of your community through community service, volunteering, or other activities.
  • Candidates with little or no prior U.S. experience will receive priority.
  • Be eligible for a J-1 visa.
  • Committed to returning to Guatemala for at least two (2) consecutive years after finishing your studies in the United States and build upon your knowledge in your professional field.
  • Be prepared to take the GRE exam in July 2023. Candidates who cannot obtain a competitive score risk ineligibility for admission to a U.S. university.
  • All fields of study are eligible with the exception of the following: psychology, veterinary studies, dentistry, nursing, and medicine (other than public health).

Important note for all potential applicants to U.S. exchange programs:

As of November 8, 2021, all non-U.S. citizens seeking to enter the United States by air are required to comply with new requirements related to COVID-19 testing and vaccination status. To be eligible for consideration at this time, you must be able to meet these new requirements.

For further details and guidance, we refer you to the U.S. CDC website:



Employees and their immediate families (i.e., spouses and dependent children) of the U.S. Department of State, the U․S․ Agency for International Development (USAID), and of public or private organizations under contract to the U.S. Department of State or USAID are ineligible to apply for a Fulbright grant until at least one (1) year after termination of such employment.

How do I apply?

If you meet all requirements listed, before you start your application, you must do the following:

  1. Research universities in the United States where you might like to study. Research a minimum of five (5) options. It is ideal if you can establish faculty contacts in advance. Unlike other fellowships, with Fulbright, you must first apply for the fellowship. If you are selected, you will then apply to the universities included in your Application Plan, with assistance from a Placement Specialist. This fellowship covers only master’s degrees for a maximum of 24 months. There is no predetermined list of universities, and you may choose both public and private institutions. It is important to consider that a maximum budget has been set for Fulbright to invest in each student, and this budget generally does not cover the most expensive, elite institutions. Candidates are not allowed to supplement the scholarship by paying university costs with their own funds.
  2. We recommend you start studying promptly for the GRE and TOEFL. Selected fellows will take the exams in July 2023.
  3. Attend one of the monthly sessions of EducationUSA, currently hosted virtually:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EducationUSAGuatemala 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EducationUSA_GT 

Application Process

  1. Gather all documents:
  • Scan of your passport information (bio) page.
  • CV/resume in English (no more than two pages).
  • University transcripts for all earned degrees.
  • GRE and TOEFL scores (not required but preferred/recommended).
  • Present three letters of recommendation.

2.      Submit application
If you meet all requirements, you may start your application here: https://apply.iie.org/ffsp2024

3.      Interviews
Candidates selected to move forward in the application process will be interviewed. Interviews are conducted in English. All interview notifications are sent via email. Candidates should check their inbox on a regular basis. If you are not contacted to schedule an interview by July 1, 2023, you did not pass to the next stage. (You will not receive a notice of non-selection.)

4.     Exams
Selected candidates will take the GRE and TOEFL exams. If you are selected to proceed to the testing stage, Fulbright will provide one voucher to cover the costs.

5.     Selection/Non-Selection

Candidates selected as finalists are notified of primary or alternate status. Then a Placement Advisor is assigned. This person will guide the applicant in the creation of their Application Plan. Note: Selected candidates will only apply to universities through this process. Separate applications should not be submitted to universities.

6.     University acceptances

Candidates are notified of the decisions of the universities to which they applied through the Fulbright office or the U.S. Embassy. The final placement is made in concurrence with the Fulbright Office, the candidate, and the U.S. Embassy. Candidates generally apply to four universities. If the candidate is not accepted at any university, this may put his/her participation in the program at risk.

7.     Preparation for travel and logistics
The U.S. Embassy will provide instructions to apply for the J-1 visa and purchase flight tickets. Fellows travel to the United States on or around August 2024. (This date will depend on each university.)

8.     Return to Guatemala
After Fellows have finished their studies, they become part of the U.S. Government exchange program alumni network of the U.S. Embassy. A debrief will be scheduled.

As part of the J-1 visa requirements, fellows are required to return to Guatemala for at least two (2) consecutive years.

Which expenses does the scholarship cover?

The Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship covers expenses of the TOEFL, visa, travel, housing, university fees, and an emergency medical plan called ASPE. As a program participant, you will receive funding for university health insurance and be enrolled in the emergency medical coverage provided by the Department of State, known as ASPE benefits, for the duration of your time in the United States while enrolled in the program.

The expenses of dependents, such as spouse or children, are not covered by the scholarship. If you plan to bring family members, you will be required to provide proof you have the economic means to sustain them during your studies. As a rule, you will need to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover dependent(s) expenses for one year. You will be required to show an amount equal to half of your monthly stipend per month for the first dependent, and a quarter of the monthly stipend for the second dependent and so on.

More information on J-1 visas

Following completion of a J-1 program in the Research Scholar or Professor category, the exchange visitor is subject to a 24-month bar on repeat participation per U.S. Department of State regulation. The visitor will not be eligible to begin a new program as a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor for two years following the end date of a previous program in the J-1 Research Scholar or Professor category, as identified on the Form DS-2019 or in SEVIS. For example, if a J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program was completed on 7/31/2018, the visitor would not be eligible to begin a new J-1 Research Scholar or Professor program until 8/1/2020 at the earliest.

The 24-month bar applies to all J-1 Research Scholars and Professors as well as their dependents (J-2s) and impacts eligibility for future J-1 Research Scholar or Professor programs within that period; this is different from the 212(e) Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement, which does not impact the ability to apply for a future J-1 program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered an advanced level of English?
Fulbright requires you to be able to fully and satisfactorily function in a university classroom setting in the United States and write academic texts and essays, among others.

Do all documents require sworn translations?
For the first stages (1 through 4) of the application process, sworn translations are not necessary. If you are selected as a principal or alternate candidate, you will require sworn translations. This expense is not covered by the Fulbright program.

How can I prove I am in the top 15 percent grade point average of my class?
In some cases, it is possible you have a grade point average lower than 85 percent but are still the best student of your class. Thus, it is important that, in addition to your transcript, you ask your university to issue a certificate attesting to your rank relative to all students (for example, among 50 students, you rank No. 1).

I have already been accepted to a university in the United States. Can I apply to the Fulbright Foreign Student scholarship to study there?
No. Fulbright requires that you apply to the scholarship first. Applicants may research universities, but they may not apply directly to any institution. If a participant is selected, he/she will then apply to different programs with the approval of the Fulbright program.

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in the United States. Am I eligible for the Fulbright Foreign Student scholarship?
No. This scholarship prioritizes persons with little or no previous experience in the United States.

I do not have a visa. Can I apply?
Yes. Fulbright requires that you be eligible for a J-1 visa. If you are selected for the program, the Embassy will support you in a request for a J-1 visa.

If I am granted the fellowship, can my family come with me?
It is important to repeat that the Fulbright fellowship only covers expenses for the individual recipient. So, if you want family members (spouse or children under 18) to travel with you, you must cover their expenses. The Fulbright fellowship will provide you with support for your dependents to obtain a J-2 visa. To be eligible for this visa, you must all prove, among other requirements, that you have sufficient funds. Fulbright fellows with dependents must also demonstrate they have adequate medical insurance to cover all dependents throughout their complete stay in the United States. More information can be found here: https://foreign.fulbrightonline.org/current-fulbrighters/in-program-requirements/bringing-your-family

“Being a Fulbright scholar has meant for me the opportunity to learn again for personal growth and collective progress. It has allowed me to open my eyes to know other societies and understand other worlds. And with art, I have been able to communicate the challenges, perspectives, and questions that we inhabitants of the global south have. This is to position our voices to speak for ourselves. The academic environment is intense; however, as international scholars we are not alone. The student community is open to build bridges regardless of nationalities and creeds.  I, in my personal search, have found a community of indigenous students that continues to claim history of the continent, which is also part of our history from the south to the north.” – B’alam García, 2022 Fulbright Foreign Student fellow.