Youth Exchange And Study (YES) Scholarship

The US Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad) covers Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, and Turkey.


The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is offering American high school students and recent graduates full scholarships to study for one academic year in countries with significant Muslim populations. The YES Abroad program was initiated as a reciprocal extension of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program for international students from countries with significant Muslim populations.


The program now offers 65 full scholarships to American students nationwide. Living with a host family and attending a local school, YES Abroad students promote mutual understanding between the United States and the host country by forming lasting relationships with the local community.


Participants live with a host family, attend a local high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about the host country’s society and values; they also help educate others about American society and values. The YES Abroad scholarship covers costs related to: round-trip airfare and room and board for the Pre-Departure Orientation; round-trip airfare between the participant’s home region and community abroad; in-country support; cultural activities; school tuition (where applicable); room and board with a host family; secondary medical benefits; visa fees; and a modest stipend.


The YES Abroad program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is administered by a consortium of organizations led by American Councils for International Education in partnership with AFS-USA, Inc., the American-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc. (AMIDEAST), and the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN).




  • U.S. citizen
  • 15-18.5 years of age at start of program
  • Enrolled in high school (including home school) at the time of application
  • For the following countries, prior French skills are required: Morocco, Senegal
  • The YES Abroad program seeks applicants of all racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and welcomes students with disabilities.



The Youth Programs Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) seeks to make youth exchange programs funded by ECA available to a wide and diverse American audience. ECA also seeks to prevent conflict of interest issues from arising with regard to Department employees and federal award recipients who are involved in particular scholarships and exchange programs.


This eligibility policy is in addition to any program specific requirements and applies only to U.S. participants in the following programs sponsored (funded) by the Youth Programs Division, and only for programs that include travel outside of the United States:


  • Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES Abroad)
  • National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX)
  • American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP)
  • Youth Leadership Program (participants who traveled overseas only)
  • Youth Ambassadors Program



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Alumni of the semester and academic year programs are NOT eligible to apply for any of the programs listed above. Under no circumstances may an individual participate in more than two of the above-listed programs.



Family Members of Department Employees

Family members of employees of the Department whose official duties involve an ECA Youth Programs Division exchange program would be precluded from applying for that program. This is because there would be a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof if employees engage in official matters that affect the interests of their family members.


In circumstances where a family member other than a spouse or dependent child wants to participate in a program in which the employee has official duties, the appropriateness of the employee engaging in such matters should be discussed with a Department Ethics attorney.



Family Members of Affiliated Private Sector Employees

Family members of employees of ECA-funded implementers of grant programs and Department contractors whose official duties involve a particular ECA-funded youth exchange program are technically ineligible for that program. Family members include spouse and dependent children.


International experience is more important now than ever before to be successful in our interdependent world. Participation in the YES Abroad program provides a unique scholarship experience to American high school students to build global awareness and intercultural competency. The skills that participants acquire enrich not only their lives, but the lives of their peers both inside and outside of the classroom. You can learn about the experiences of participants during and after their YES Abroad year through their impact stories and testimonials.


YES Abroad appreciates the important role that educators play in fostering interest in global issues and encouraging students to participate in opportunities that expand their world. YES Abroad is grateful for the support that educators provide to students in their pursuit of knowledge of the world around them, both before and after their study abroad experience.


Educators are encouraged to spread awareness of YES Abroad to their schools and students. If you know any students who may be good candidates for a YES Abroad scholarship, nominate them using the form below. We will follow up by sending you and the nominee information about how to apply for the program. You can also request materials and more information about the YES Abroad program.



Travel and Visas

Participants who accept Finalist status during the selection phase will be provided with visa application instructions from the administering organization. Please keep in mind that the visa requirements are determined by the host country’s government.


It is common for the visa application process to require applicants to obtain several notarized copies of official documents for the participant and natural parents, such as the birth certificate, immunization certificates, and school documentation.


Most host countries also require that participants submit their passports either directly to the Embassy/Consulate or to their administering organization for group processing.


Please note that this commonly requires participants to be without their passports for over a month during the spring and/or summer prior to departure. Finalists are required to obtain a visa on a timeline that facilitates travel with the international departure of the YES Abroad country group to participate in the YES Abroad program.


The YES Abroad countries are identified and selected in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State and in-country embassies. Country assignment for students selected as Finalists is made by the YES Abroad staff, and is based on matching cultural characteristics of the YES Abroad host countries with a review of the written application and the findings of the selection evaluators.


While applicants indicate their countries of preference during the application process, YES Abroad applicants should be open to any of the YES Abroad countries. Those applicants selected as Finalists will receive their country assignment at the time of Finalist notification.


Within the host country, the YES Abroad host communities are selected by local in-country staff, who confer with the U.S. Embassy in-country. Host communities range from small villages, to suburban, to urban settings.



See the FAQs here



Contact information

Email YES Abroad

Telephone +1 (800) 237-4636 x2151

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