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CIEE Global Exchange Scholarships

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The CIEE Work & Travel USA program provides university students the opportunity to immerse themselves in American culture by living and working in a U.S. community during their summer break.  The CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship Program – funded by CIEE and supported through generous donations from host employers – gives international students who otherwise would not be able to participate, the opportunity share this experience.

CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship participants come from countries in which cultural exchange is uncommon, and/or from countries in which there is a deficit of trust between governments or peoples. Participants themselves come from underserved populations. This includes gender, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, as well as disabled students or those with financial limitations. Not only does this achieve important public diplomacy goals, but it also promotes vital U.S. national and economic security interests.


CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship Experience 

students at lincoln monument in washington dc


CIEE will provide participating embassies with a timeline, related to either the summer or winter season, that includes application, enrollment, J-1 visa and travel deadlines. Any requests for process not following this timeline will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Specific deadlines will be provided and confirmed by email.  For further details please contact access@ciee.org.

Application: The application for the winter season is typically open from June to August. The application for the summer season is typically open from November to January.

Notification: CIEE will confirm recipient selection and students will be contacted by CIEE staff for screening and matching with eligible positions; U.S. employer interviews will take place.

Visa Interviews: Students will typically apply for their J-1 visa from October through November (winter season) or March through May (summer) depending on job placement status.

Program: Student program will vary in length, depending on sending country dates, university schedule, and job availability. Average program length is 12 weeks, not including the permitted travel period.

Frequently Asked Questions

The CIEE Work & Travel USA program provides university students the opportunity to experience the American way of life in a unique and exciting way during their university summer break. As a CIEE participant, students are able to work for up to four months and then, if they like, take up to 30 days to travel to the places they’ve always dreamed of.  

While in the United States, participants work at non-skilled seasonal jobs, such as waiting tables in a restaurant, working in a shop as a cashier, operating rides or serving food in an amusement park, or working in a hotel or resort. Jobs range in locations across the United States, from U.S. National Parks, mountain and beach resorts and popular amusement and theme park areas. Participants with advanced-level English will have a wider variety of positions that they will be eligible to interview for, while participants with intermediate-level English will have a limited number of positions that they will be eligible for.

As a sponsor, CIEE provides visa sponsorship, pre-departure orientation information, in-country support, the required phone SEVIS registration upon arrival, as well as travel insurance coverage. At a minimum, CIEE will have monthly contact with all participants to ensure student health, safety and well-being, as well as program satisfaction. Students also have access to a 24/7 phone number, that they can use to contact CIEE in case of an emergency.

To take part in the CIEE Work & Travel USA program students at a minimum must:

  • Be between 18 and 30 years old
  • Be registered as a full-time student at a university or other institution of post-secondary education. The degree/diploma course in which students are registered must be at least two years in duration. Students in post-graduate courses that are less than two years (i.e. masters courses), are also eligible
  • Be able to successfully interact in an English-speaking environment, have sufficient English proficiency to navigate daily life, read and comprehend materials, and know how to obtain assistance when necessary
  • Demonstrate an interest in engaging with U.S. culture and communities

For additional details around the CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship selection and eligibility, please see the review criteria. 

The CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship program is seeking candidates who represent the qualities and/or populations in their home country as described below.

Financial need – candidate should have a socioeconomic status where a scholarship enables participation (for example low-income families)

Underserved population – candidate should represent an underserved population in their country (for example racial, ethnic, gender or religious minorities, disabled students, etc.) 

Global perspective – candidates should be eager to enhance their social abilities and leadership qualities while also willing to reach across cultures to build their skills as global citizens

Selection notes: Ideal candidates must be independent, mature, flexible, communicative, and ready to engage with the new environment. Candidates must also be responsible, responsive, and flexible on host employer job type and location. While the CIEE Work & Travel USA program does provide an excellent opportunity for students to improve their English skills, students seeking solely academic experiences may not be the strongest fit for this program. Students nominated for the CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship can also be high achievers academically, and this program gives them a chance to focus on social and cultural skills to enhance their global perspective.

For the 2020 winter season, CIEE is delighted to offer Exchange Scholarships for students who would not otherwise be able to participate in this important cultural exchange. Scholarship award coverage will vary based upon criteria selection and funding. The scholarships will cover some or all of the following fees. Please reach out to access@ciee.org to learn more about available funding.

  • CIEE Work & Travel USA program fee
  • Job placement fee
  • Travel insurance
  • Required SEVIS U.S. immigration fee
  • U.S. visa application fee
  • Round trip transportation costs to their host employment site
  • An stipend to cover travel incidentals and expenses upon arrival to the United States and before their first paycheck

For scholarship consideration, each candidate must fully complete and submit the online CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship Nomination form including required attachments (passport scan and resume/CV) and signature. Please contact access@ciee.org for more details around the nomination process.

Students can expect to undertake non-skilled work in a seasonal environment. Typical seasonal job types include front desk clerk, sales associate, server, host, ride attendant, and resort worker. Students may work at a U.S. National Park, a mountain or beach resort area, or a popular amusement/theme park in a variety of U.S. states. Students with stronger English skills will be eligible for a wider variety of positions. Students should expect to work an average of 30 hours per week.

Students receive a thorough CIEE job profile outlining host employer job duties and pay rate, transportation options, housing details, and local area information. Students should familiarize themselves with their job profile information and feel confident that they are prepared to succeed and participate in all duties required of their position and commit to an entire season at that location. Students will then undertake interview for their jobs with either a CIEE representative or host employer. CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship students will also have specific support contacts at CIEE during their program and housing support through their host employer.

CIEE works to match student job interest, English proficiency, and availability (Department of State permitted work dates and university break dates) with available host employer jobs. CIEE staff will discuss program expectations to ensure that students are prepared to succeed in their roles in the U.S. While students’ location and job type preferences will be taken into consideration, students should remain flexible in accepting their offered interview placement as positions are limited to host employer availability.

Once students pass their interview and are hired by a U.S. host employer, CIEE will finalize their job placement and process their DS 2019 forms. These forms will be shipped to the local embassy and students will then apply for visa interview appointments. Upon receipt of visa approval, CIEE will confirm travel dates with students and arrange travel to the U.S. Once students are hired, they will also be in touch with their host employer directly to discuss housing and arrival details.

Yes, CIEE Access Scholars will be required, as a part of their scholarship, to submit an essay or video six months after their program completion. The CIEE Work & Travel USA program is a public diplomacy initiative that promotes cultural exchange and positively impacts tens of thousands of international students each year. By connecting and engaging with Work & Travel USA participants post program, we can collect their stories that demonstrate and highlight the positive benefits of their program participation.

Cultural exchanges are at the forefront of our programs and we offer programming that complements and expands the cultural focus of Summer Work and Travel to offer participants a more comprehensive experience in the United States. We truly believe that we can create meaningful experiences for participants and help them to become engaged global citizens. CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship students will also have opportunities to connect with each other on social media platforms like Facebook. Here they will find resources and information about their program.

Civic Leadership Summit
Work & Travel USA participants selected to attend the Civic Leadership Summit are awarded an expenses-paid conference in Washington, DC during their programs. Selected Fellows participate in events and activities focusing on intercultural awareness, civics, and social entrepreneurship. Our goal is to empower Fellows to become leaders and changemakers in their home countries and communities upon their return from the program. CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship participants will be encouraged to apply for this unique opportunity!

Connect USA
This series of nearly 40 regional events are open to over 8,500 of our Work & Travel USA participants hosted across the country. CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship participants will receive invitations and will be encouraged to participate in these local events near their employer sites.

Culture Guide USA
Each month all Work & Travel USA participants receive monthly newsletters that provide information on local attractions through customized Top 10 Things to Do e-mails. We want to provide all of our Work & Travel USA participants the encouragement necessary to experience the summer of a lifetime and learn as much as possible about life in the U.S.

  • employee in vegas by sign
  • employees at baseball stadium
  • employees by lake during break

CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship Resources

Here are a few examples of the kinds of jobs that are available:

Please note that these job profiles represent a variety of job placements and serve as examples only. These specific employer hosts and/or job types are not guaranteed available positions for candidates. Candidates must be responsible, responsive, and flexible on host employer job type and location.


  • I found myself surrounded by a multiplicity of cultures, attitudes, languages, discovering other perspectives in life and trying new things that I am not used to, and that made me dedicate my time – with a culturally diverse community – to build very special bonds and lifelong relationships, and also to represent my community and deliver goodwill.

    Eya, from Tunisia

  • This program means a lot to me since it’s my first time to travel and meet people from different backgrounds. This opportunity made me realize how important it is to accept the differences between people in order to make the world better place for all of us.

    Ahmed, from Gaza

  • We come from different countries, culture, belief and background but that didn't stop us from making a strong bond. Now we face-time every single day (in English!) because we miss each other a lot I didn't expect to make such amazing friendship.

    Kenzer, from Nicaragua

  • CIEE Work & Travel USA has helped me learn from the people I worked with. I realized that for one to succeed you need to put great value on every person you work with and respect them. This experience has also taught me that we can all co-exist in harmony if we looked beyond our regional, racial or religious affiliations.

    Selia, from Zambia