Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute

Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF)

NOTE: Due to a revision in the eligiblility requirements by the organizers, we are now able to accept aplications from students born between June 22, 2001, and June 22, 2004

The U.S. Embassy in Cyprus is pleased to accept applications for the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Program for upper secondary school students. The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship is a fully funded intensive short-term exchange program, created to foster relationships among young Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages and awareness of shared values. The four-week program will enable teenagers, ages 16-18 (born between June 22, 2001, and June 22, 2004) to explore U.S. foreign policy priorities such as youth engagement, support for democracy and civil society, and economic prosperity. The program will consist of a series of lectures, seminar discussions and presentations, and a broad assortment of practical, faculty- and mentor-led workshops. The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by community service activities, site visits, social and cultural activities, and homestays with American families to deepen participants’ experience of U.S. society during their exchange.

During the academic residency, participants also will have the opportunity to discuss other topics such as democratic practices, conflict resolution, problem solving, communication skills, critical thinking, tolerance and respect for diversity, youth leadership, team building, and the media. The institute will explore how freedom of expression provides rights to and imposes responsibilities on citizens. Upon their return home, participants will implement service projects in their communities and present an alumni project plan to a youth-serving or youth-centered organization in their home country. These organizations may include the U.S. Mission Youth Councils, American Corners or American Spaces, and exchange alumni associations. More information about the program is available at

The program will take place in June and July 2020 at Purdue University, Indiana.

Applications are accepted through the online form only. 

U.S. Embassy Cyprus Summer Institute

Pending funding availability, the U.S. Embassy will also offer a fully funded program modeled after BFTF for a small number of Cypriot students who will travel to the United States as a group in the summer of 2020 for a customized program at a U.S. university. Applicants to the 2020Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows program are automatically considered for this program without the need for a separate application. Eligibility criteria and selection process apply for both programs.


Candidates for both programs must exhibit an interest in pursuing leadership opportunities in their home countries, and convey a genuine desire to learn about the United States and its people, society, and institutions. All candidates are expected to have a strong interest in learning about diplomacy, the transatlantic relationship, the role of a free press in a democratic society, and public or community service. They should have a demonstrated interest in communications, advocacy, debate, and civic participation. They should have the academic aptitude for a program of this nature and the personal qualities needed to be successful, including maturity, strong social skills, flexibility, and open-mindedness. Selected applicants are expected to fully participate in the academic program and the follow-on activities afterward in their home countries. They should attend all lectures and organized activities, complete assigned readings, and be ready to share their culture with Americans. The institute is very intensive and that there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program.


The programs are funded by the U.S. Government and provide a full scholarship for participants, which covers visa, travel, lodging, educational materials, ground transportation expenses and travel insurance.


Eligibility criteria and selection process below apply for both the Benjamin Franklin and the Summer Institute programs

All candidates are expected to have a strong interest in learning about diplomacy, the transatlantic relationship, the role of a free press in a democratic society, and public or community service.  They should have a strong demonstrated interest in communications, advocacy, debate, and/or civic participation.  They should have the academic aptitude for a program of this intensity and the personal qualities needed to be successful, including maturity, strong social skills, flexibility, and open-mindedness.

To be considered, candidates should:

  • be born between June 22, 2001*, and June 22, 2004 (i.e., be 16, 17, or 18 years of age at the time of the program start); *NOTE: Date range has been revised
  • be highly proficient in English, as demonstrated in a personal interview or the results of a standardized test;
  • be committed to enrolling in high school or university in their home countries in fall 2020, following completion of the institute;
  • demonstrate strong leadership potential and interest in transatlantic relations and diplomacy;
  • indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States;
  • demonstrate  a high level of academic achievement, as indicated by academic grades, awards, and teacher recommendations;
  • demonstrate a commitment to community and extracurricular activities;
  • have had little or no prior U.S. study or travel experience in the United States;
  • be mature, responsible, independent, confident, open-minded, tolerant, thoughtful and inquisitive;
  • be willing and able to fully participate in an intensive summer program, with community service and educational travel;
  • be comfortable with campus life, shared living accommodations, travel and interaction with a multinational, co-ed group of participants from across Europe and the United States;
  • be comfortable engaging with the Americans they meet in the host communities;
  • be able to adjust to cultural and social practices different from those of their home countries; and
  • be able to fly to the United States from Larnaca Airport.


  • U.S. Citizens are not eligible to apply for this program.
  • Applications need to be fully filled using Latin characters. Any applications submitted using Greek or Turkish characters will not be reviewed.
  • Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.


  1. What degree of English proficiency should an applicant have? All participants must be highly proficient in English; throughout the institute they will need to fully understand lectures, actively participate in discussions, and read and write assignments in English.
  2. Can an individual who is not a citizen of Cyprus apply?  Yes. However, both programs are designed to further mutual understanding between U.S. citizens and Europeans.  If you are not a citizen of the Cyprus, please explain clearly on the application the reasons for your application.
  3. I have been to the U.S. before; would I be disqualified?  Nominees with very minimal experience in the United States may be considered for the program.  However, priority should be given to nominees with no previous experience in the United States.  If you have had significant U.S. experience, please be sure to clearly indicate the purpose of your visit to the U.S., the year it occurred, and the length of stay, as requested on the nomination form.
  4. How much free time will a participant have during the program? There will be some limited free time during the program.  However, nominees MUST understand that this is an intensive academic program and they are expected to fully participate in all lectures, activities, site visits, and scheduled events.
  5. If an applicant has relatives in the U.S., would he/she have time to see them? Participants will NOT be allowed to leave the institute to visit relatives or friends. Occasionally it is possible for a pre-approved visit on a specific day designated by the host institution, if the schedule permits (on the Benjamin Franklin Program only).  These situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.
  6. How important it is to nominate a gender-balanced group? Very important! We strive to have the best possible diversity and gender balance in both programs.
  7. Can a participant arrive early/late or stay after the Institute? Participants who choose to travel to the United States are required to abide by the J-1 visa rules.  Participants may NOT arrive in the United States before the program start date or remain in the country after the close of the institute.
  8. Can a participant miss one part or component of the Institute? All participants are expected to participate in all scheduled lectures, events, site visits, trips, and activities.
  9. How much money will participants need to bring for the program? The U.S. Government will cover all basic costs of an individual’s participation in both exchange programs.  Generally, the host institution will provide meals through a combination of a cafeteria meal plan and a pre-loaded debit card for use at local restaurants.  Information on housing and meal arrangements will be provided by the host institution prior to the start of the institute.  Participants should not expect to receive any spending money from the institute and should bring their own spending money if they wish to purchase souvenirs or other items during their time in the United States.
  10. I am a sibling of a BFTF or Summer Institute alumni who would like to apply for the programs. Can I apply? Yes, but priority will be given to nominees who are unrelated to past BFTF participants.  The organizers will make every effort to recruit and nominate candidates from widely diverse areas and backgrounds.
  11. Will applicants with disabilities be considered? Yes, the Youth Programs Division welcomes nominations for individuals with disabilities.  We are committed to working with Purdue University to arrange reasonable accommodations for all participants.  Notification of a disability will not negatively impact selection.  We ask that you identify disabilities during the nomination process so that we can begin working with Purdue University to ensure appropriate accommodations.


Applicants must complete all application questions including Interests and Personal Statement to be considered.


Applicants may request someone to submit a recommendation on their behalf.  Recommendations can be submitted online.


All documents and optional letter of recommendation should be submitted online by 23:59, Sunday, February 2, 2020. The form will close at midnight and applications will no longer be accepted. Eligible applications will be reviewed and selected applicants will be be invited via email to personal interview, approximately two weeks following the application deadline.