2023 Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders

The U.S. Embassy in Portugal is accepting applications for the fully funded summer 2023 Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders sponsored by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Deadline: Sunday, December 4, 2022.


Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders are intensive short-term academic programs whose purpose is to provide groups of undergraduate student leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  The Institutes consist of a four-week academic residency with a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  Site visits, leadership development, cultural activities, and community service complement the coursework and academic sessions.  If conditions allow, the Institutes will include a one-week integrated regional study tour in the United States.

Each five-week program will take place between June and August 2023; exact dates will be communicated at the time of selection.  Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the programs will pivot to a modified virtual format.


The Study of the U.S. Institute on Civic Engagement, hosted by Michigan State University, will provide participants with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society both as individuals and groups.  The academic program will define civic engagement; examine its development in the United States; and explore topics such as citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, political leadership, and volunteerism.  In order to enhance the academic experience, the Institute will focus on specific themes such as civil rights and protections; diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA); citizen journalism, social movements, education, governance, minority communities, leadership, and media.  Academic sessions will be complemented with hands-on sessions or workshops designed to build skills in the topics mentioned above.  The Institute will encourage participants to develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their own communities.

The Study of the U.S. Institute on Environmental Issues will provide participants with an overview of climate change along with its impact on communities in the American west, natural resources, and the local economy.  Academic sessions will explore clean energy, sustainable development, the risks of natural disasters, and the intersection of climate justice and community activism.  In order to enhance the academic experience, the Institute will focus on specific themes and sub-topics such as strategic communication, social justice, emergency response, water rights, and energy efficiency and sustainability.  Academic activities will be supplemented by opportunities to engage with the local community, including a weekend homestay and meeting with local environmental non-profits.  The host institution will be identified at the time of participant selection.


Participants are expected to be highly motivated first-year and second-year undergraduate students from colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, and extracurricular activities.  Their fields of study will be varied and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields.  Candidates should be willing and able to fully take part in this intensive program.  Participants from historically underserved groups, minority communities, and individuals with disabilities, and who have little or no international experience are encouraged to apply.

Candidates nominated for this program should:

  • demonstrate English language proficiency (speaking, reading, writing, listening)
  • have an interest in the Institute topic
  • be between 18 and 25 years of age
  • have at least one semester left of their undergraduate studies, and be committed to returning to their home universities following completion of the program
  • demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university and community activities
  • indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States
  • have sustained high level of academic achievement, as indicated by grades and awards
  • demonstrate commitment to community service and extracurricular university activities
  • have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States or elsewhere outside of Europe
  • be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful, and inquisitive
  • be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and educational travel, and
  • be comfortable with campus life, prepared to share living accommodations, and able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home country.


Program Funding: All participant costs will be covered, including program administration; international and visa travel, travel allowances, domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing, and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.

Program Requirements and Restrictions: Candidates should be aware that they are applying for an intensive and rigorous academic institute and are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program.  Participants must attend all lectures, participate in all required organized activities, and complete all assignments.  Due to the intensive nature of the program, participants should not expect to fulfill professional or academic obligations, including remote work for jobs or internships, classwork, or examinations for their home university, while in the United States.  Doing so will count as an unexcused absence from program activities.  Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program.   

English Language Ability: English Language proficiency is required to participate in this program.  All candidates must be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program.  To confirm suitability for the program as well as the required English fluency an American officer at the U.S. Embassy will interview the proposed nominee in English.

Housing and Meal Arrangements: Housing will be shared or single university dorms on campus or full-service hotels within walking distance of most classroom activities.  Male and female participants will be housed in separate quarters.  In addition to regular group meals and a university meal plan, participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own.  Candidates should make sure they are comfortable with campus life and an active program schedule.

Special Accommodations:  Care will be taken to ensure that any special requirements regarding diet, daily worship, housing, and medical care are satisfied.  Special accommodations will be made available to the greatest extent possible.  However, while Institute staff will make available special accommodations to the greatest extent possible, full participation in all Institute activities is still expected.

Health Benefits: All participants will receive the Department of State’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit. COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE policy.  Information on the health benefit program may be found online at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos. Should a participant need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results during the program, accommodations will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) and host institution guidelines.   

Virtual Program Contingency: Should health, safety, and travel conditions continue to pose significant challenges, the SUSI will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program would consist of a minimum of 36 hours of required programming with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.  To the extent possible, the virtual programming will include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, leadership development, assignments, and individual and group activities.  Participants will be required to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their locations.

Connectivity: Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, participants would need access to a computer and stable internet connection.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) are not eligible.

Participants from the 2021 hybrid Institutes are not eligible for this in-person version of the program.


Complete applications must be filled in this form (link) by the end of Sunday, December 4, 2022.

Qualified candidates will be invited for an interview in early January 2023.

All candidates will be notified regarding selection or non-selection by April 2023.