Global UGRAD

Global UGRAD

Country: Global
Duration: November 2016 to April 2019
Funder: U.S. Department of State

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). This international educational and cultural exchange program brings future leaders to the United States to experience the U.S. educational system, enhance their knowledge, and explore U.S. culture and values. It also affords students the opportunity to share their cultures and traditions with people in the United States. Global UGRAD is administered by World Learning on behalf of ECA.

Global UGRAD will provide a select group of approximately 250 students with scholarships for one academic semester of undergraduate, non-degree study in the United States. The scholarship will cover international travel, tuition, room and board, accident/sickness insurance, a small monthly stipend, and funding for books. Global UGRAD is a substantive exchange program designed to expose students to the U.S. educational system, society, and culture. Finalists represent diverse disciplines, from architecture to engineering, biochemistry, literature, and education.  A small number of students will also receive additional English language training in the U.S. prior to the start of their academic program. Students will live in university residence halls and will have the opportunity to participate in campus organizations and activities. All students are required to participate in volunteer community service activities and are encouraged to participate in professional development activities as part of the Global UGRAD Program. Exposure to U.S. civil society, as well as the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States, gives the participants a strong example of tolerance in a democratic society.

Since 2008, World Learning has placed and monitored over 2,000 Global UGRAD students at hundreds of colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and women's colleges. Participants leave the United States with the tools to become leaders in their professions and communities. Global UGRAD alumni go on to receive Fulbright grants, obtain prestigious international internships, and work in business and government in their home countries.


To promote mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries.


Provide a fulfilling exchange experience to drive academic, cross-cultural, and leadership competencies for students from Global UGRAD countries. 
Enhance students' academic knowledge and professional skills needed to pursue long-term academic and career goals.
Cultivate students' comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the United States.
Facilitate opportunities for students to establish social networks with U.S. host institutions and local communities. 
Empower students to engage constructively in the civic life of their local and global communities.


The whole experience was a success story to me. I made long-lasting friendships, discovered a true passion of mine, and realized I have more potential than I thought I did.

Global UGRAD participant

For highlights from the Global UGRAD Program, visit the Global Gazette.

Global UGRAD Resource Portal

Resources for students, host institutions, and alumni.

The Global UGRAD application is now open!
Apply online.
Download the application instructions.
The application deadline is December 31, 2016, 5pm EST

Program Eligibility

Global UGRAD is open to all academic fields of study and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or disability. Competition for the program is highly competitive and merit based. Finalists will be selected on the basis of academic excellence, leadership potential, and their preparedness for study in the United States.

The Global UGRAD Program is open to anyone who is/has:

  • over 18 years of age;
  • a citizen of a Global UGRAD participating country, currently residing in that country;
  • enrolled as an undergraduate in good standing at any accredited university, public or private, and has at least one semester remaining at their home university at the conclusion of the Global UGRAD program; 
  • completed secondary education in their home country;
  • a solid command of written and spoken English (English Language training for some finalists is possible);
  • able to begin studies in the United States in August 2017 or January 2018 (selected participants may not defer to a later date);
  • eligible to receive and maintain the U.S. student exchange visa (J-1) required for the program;
  • cleared by a physician to participate in the program;
  • committed to returning to their home country after the completion of the program.

Individuals in the following circumstances are not eligible for the Global UGRAD Program:

  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States;
  • Individuals currently studying, residing, or working outside of their home country;
  • Local employees of the U.S. missions abroad who work for the U.S. Department of State and/or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); employees are also ineligible for one year following the termination of employment;
  • Immediate family members (i.e. spouses and children) of U.S. Department of State and USAID employees; family members are also ineligible for one year following the termination of employment;
  • Current World Learning employees and their immediate family members.

To apply to host participants on Global UGRAD program, please complete the online application.

World Learning partners with over 60 diverse colleges and universities around the United States to make the UGRAD program a success. Is your institution interested in becoming one of them?

Host Institution Frequently Asked Questions

How can I become a host for the Global UGRAD program?

If you are interested in hosting Global UGRAD participants, please complete the online application form.

What countries/locales are represented by the Global UGRAD program?

Participating countries/locales include: Algeria, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.

What is the age group of the Global UGRAD finalists?

Global UGRAD participants have completed 1–4 years of university study in their home countries. The age range is typically 18–25 years old.

What fields of study are mostly represented in the program?

Students from all academic disciplines are encouraged to apply for the Global UGRAD Program. Possible fields of study include the humanities, arts, social sciences, mathematical science, natural and physical sciences, engineering and applied science.

Are the participants degree-seeking students?

No. All Global UGRAD Students are non-degree seeking students in the United States.

Is community service a required program component?

Yes. All Global UGRAD Students are required to complete 20 hours of community service.

Do the students have to participate in an internship?


Are the students expected to live on campus or off campus?

All students are required to be housed in campus facilities with an American roommate. Students often prefer single sex residence halls when available.

Does the program provide health insurance coverage for the participants?

Health coverage is provided through the Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE). ASPE is a self-funded, limited health care benefit plan designed to pay covered medical expenses for eligible exchange participants. Covered medical expenses are subject to limitation and pre-existing conditions are not covered. This plan is not an insurance policy. Therefore, if the participant should have any serious medical care, he/she should seek additional health insurance on their own behalf.

What kind of support is expected from participating host Institutions?

World Learning is looking for Host Institutions who are able to provide a high level of academic, cultural, and personal support to participants. Resources such as career centers, tutoring centers, international student services and other support centers play an integral role in the students' successful experiences.

Is financial support (cost share) from host institutions an expectation?

Host Institutions are expected to demonstrate significant cost share commitments. Examples include in-state tuition instead of out-of-state, housing waivers, significant tuition discounts or scholarships, and housing and fee reductions.

Have an idea for a community project? To learn about the U.S. Department of State's Alumni Exchange Innovation Fund (AEIF), visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' AEIF Website.

All Global UGRAD alumni are invited to join International Exchange Alumni , a network created and facilitated by the U.S. Department of State. To access alumni resources and more, log-on to International Exchange Alumni.

My U.S. experience has changed me as a person and has made me more confident. I believe I can achieve my career related dreams.

Global UGRAD participant

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