2024 Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders

2024 Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Student Leaders

The U.S. Embassy in Portugal is accepting applications for the fully funded summer 2024 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 3, 2023.


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 tentatively take place between June 25 and July 31, 2024; 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 in East Lansing, Michigan, 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.  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.  Program components may include a tour of the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, meeting with representatives of the Michigan State University Law Clinic, and volunteering with the Refugee Development Center. 

The Study of the U.S. Institute on Environmental Issues hosted by Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, will provide participants with an overview of climate change along with its impact on local communities, natural resources, and the local economy.  Academic sessions and experiential learning opportunities will explore clean energy, sustainable development, the risks of natural disasters, and the intersection of climate justice and community activism.  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, agriculture and food systems, biodiversity, 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.  Program components may include hiking a section of the Appalachian trail, a visit to the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, and a kayak tour with the Susquehanna Riverkeepers, an environmental organization.


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 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 teachers recommendations; 
  • demonstrate commitment to community service and extracurricular university activities;  
  • have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States or outside of Europe;
  • be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful, and inquisitive;
  • be willing to respectfully engage with fellow participants representing different backgrounds and different points of view;
  • 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; 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 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.  

Health Benefits: All participants will receive the Department of State’s Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE) health benefit during the U.S.-based in-person component, which provides coverage of up to $100,000 with a $25 co-pay per medical visit and a $75 co-pay per emergency room visit, for the duration of the program.  Information on the health benefit program may be found online at http://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos.

Virtual Program Contingency: Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the SUSI will pivot to a virtual format.  The virtual program would consist of at least 36 hours of required programming and include both synchronous and asynchronous learning.  Virtual programming may include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, leadership development, individual assignments, and group activities.  Participants would 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. 

Travel Policy: Participants are not allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the SUSI or remain in the United States after the end date. Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute.

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


Complete applications must be filled in this form  by the end of Sunday, December 3, 2023.

Qualified candidates will be interviewed by early January 2024. 

All candidates will be notified regarding selection or non-selection in spring 2024.