The J. William Fulbright program, established in 1946, was created to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world. Today, the Fulbright program is one of the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange programs in the world. Hundreds of Fulbright alumni worldwide currently hold top positions in government, higher education, journalism, and the private sector. Fifty nine Fulbright alumni from eleven countries are recipients of the Nobel), eighty two are Pulitzer Prize winners, thirty alumni have served as heads of state or government (including former Brazilian President Cardoso and former Swedish Prime Minister Carlsson), and a Fulbright alumnus has served as Secretary-General of the United Nations (Boutros Boutros-Ghali).
Fulbright grants are awarded through open and merit-based competition. This ensures the most qualified applicants are fairly chosen in a way that contributes to the main goal of the program, to promote mutual understanding and benefit through contributions to both host and home communities.