YSEALI Academic Fellowship

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship for the 2024 Spring cohort is now open for application!


Apply here

Application deadline: October 30, 2023
URL for Bruneian applicants: https://forms.gle/XRx8evs9GMA4nArY7 



The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is the U.S. government’s signature public diplomacy program to provide skills training to youth in Southeast Asia.  YESALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture a community of leaders who work across borders to solve shared issues. To this end, the YSEALI Fellowship brings exceptional young leaders from Southeast Asian countries to the United States to further develop their professional and leadership skills.  The Study of the U.S. Branch implements the YSEALI Academic Fellowship aimed at young leaders ages 18-25.

The five-week program will consist of a balanced series of seminar discussions, readings, group presentations, and lectures.  The coursework and classroom activities will be complemented by educational travel, site visits, leadership activities, and volunteer opportunities within the local community.  During the academic residency, participants will also have opportunities to engage in educational and cultural activities outside of the classroom.  If conditions allow, the Fellowship will include an educational study tour to other areas of the United States where they will meet with local, state, private, and nonprofit organizations working in the field.  Note that if the program must take place virtually, Fellows will engage in similar activities but online from their home countries.

The YSEALI Academic Fellowship is an intensive short-term academic program whose purpose is to provide groups of young leaders with a deeper understanding of the United States and a particular theme, while simultaneously enhancing their leadership skills.  The Fellowship will focus on one of three themes:

  1. The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Civic Engagement will provide fellows with an overview of how citizens have shaped U.S. history, government, and society both as individuals and groups.  The fellowship will define civic engagement, examine its development in the United States, and explore topics such as active citizenship, community building, economic development, grassroots activism, and volunteerism.  Other topics such as civil rights, social justice, entrepreneurship, ethics, leadership, and media will be discussed.  Fellows will also meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of non-profit organizations.  Throughout the Fellowship participants will develop innovative and practical plans to become engaged citizens in their own communities. The University of Nebraska – Omaha and Arizona State University will each conduct and host one Institute. The Fellowship on Civic Engagement will be held from April 20 to May 22, 2024.
  2. The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environmental Issues will explore the role that environmental policy has played in the economic and political development of the United States.  The fellowship will use experiential learning techniques to expose participants to current themes in the field, including climate change, sustainable development/sustainable agricultural practices, food security, ecotourism, renewable energy generation, and water management and treatment.  Fellows will explore the issues from numerous angles: local grassroots activism and civic initiatives, impacts on marginalized communities, private sector approaches, global multilateral efforts, and federal government policies and regulation.  Finally, the fellowship will explore environmental issues in the context of a globalized society and draw comparisons between the United States and the participants’ home countries.  Fellows will also meet with community leaders, and representatives of non-profit organizations. The University of Montana and the East-West Center in Honolulu, HI will each conduct and host one Institute.  The Fellowship on Environmental Issues will be held from April 17 to May 22, 2024.
  3. The YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will provide fellows with an overview of entrepreneurial approaches that are employed to address social and economic issues.  The fellowship will review the development, history, challenges, and successes of enterprises and community leaders, in the United States and globally.  Topics include, but are not limited to, trade; investment; financial literacy; banking; microfinance; organizational development and management; grant writing; innovation; emerging markets and risk analysis; strategic business planning; corporate social responsibility; and women and minorities in entrepreneurship.  Students will also meet with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and representatives of nonprofit organizations. The University of Connecticut and the University of Texas-Austin will each conduct and host one Institute.  The Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development will be held from April 14 to May 18, 2024.


Program Funding: The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State will cover all participant costs, including program administration; international and visa travel, travel allowances, domestic travel and ground transportation; book, cultural, mailing and incidental allowances; and housing and subsistence.  If the program is conducted virtually, ECA will work with the cooperative partners to provide a technology stipend to the fellows.

Program Requirements and Restrictions: Participants must attend all lectures, participate in all required organized activities, and complete all assignments.  Family members and/or friends may not accompany or join participants for any part of the program.

English Language Ability: All candidates must be proficient in English so that they can actively participate in the academic program. Candidate interviews with the selection panel at the U.S. Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan will be conducted in English. Host institutions will consider the varying levels of participants’ comprehension and speaking ability and will prepare lectures and discussions that meet the highest academic standards while using language appropriate for students where English is their second or third language.

Housing and Meal Arrangements: Housing will be in 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.

Reasonable 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.  Should a participant need to quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results, accommodations will follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

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 the following coverages:

  • 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
  • Up to $100,000 for pre-existing conditions, subject to policy exclusions and limitations.
  • Up to $500 for routine COVID-19 testing requirements in the United States.  COVID-19 is treated like any other illness under the ASPE health benefits plan.  Information on the health benefit program may be viewed at https://www.sevencorners.com/gov/usdos.

Travel Policy: Participants are not allowed to arrive in the United States prior to the start date of the fellowship or remain in the United States after the end date.  Similarly, participants will not be permitted to leave the fellowship to visit relatives or friends while in the United States.  If a relative or friend wishes to visit a participant, it will be considered on a case- by-case basis in consultation with the ECA program officer and the host institution.  Participants are required to return to their home countries immediately following the end of the Institute.

Grounds for Dismissal: Violations of program rules, host institution rules, or local, state, or federal laws can be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

Virtual Program Contingency: Should health, safety, and travel conditions pose significant challenges, the Academic Fellowship 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 would include lectures, small group discussions, videos, readings, panels, site visits, leadership development, assignments, and individual and group activities.  Participants would be expected to fully participate in the entire virtual program from their location.

Connectivity: Should the program need to pivot to a virtual format, participants would need access to a computer and a stable internet connection.  If a participant does not have access to these two items, the organizers will work with the fellow and the U.S. Embassy Bandar Seri Begawan to facilitate access.

The YSEALI Academic Fellows are expected to be full-time undergraduate students from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years, who demonstrate leadership through academic work, community involvement, extracurricular activities, or their profession.  Their fields of study will be varied, and may include the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business, and other professional fields.  There will be an emphasis for applicants from non-elite backgrounds, from both rural and urban areas, and with little or no prior experience in the United States or elsewhere outside their home country.  In addition, applications are highly encouraged from the underserved including indigenous groups, ethnic minority communities, and candidates with disabilities. Please note the Department’s commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities in all ECA programming. Host universities will provide special accommodations for YSEALI Academic Fellows with disabilities as needed.

Candidates nominated for this program must be:
  • Between the ages of 18 and 25 at the time of application, although exceptional applicants over 25 can be considered if they meet all other eligibility requirements;
  • A citizen of one of the following countries: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam;
  • A resident of one of the following countries: Brunei (permanent residents, or International Certificate of Identity (ICI) holder included), Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam;
  • A full-time undergraduate student from college, university, or other institutions of higher learning; or have graduated in the past four years;
  • Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English;
  • Not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
  • Eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa; and
Successful applicants should:
  • Demonstrate interest, knowledge, or professional experience in Civic Engagement, Environmental Issues, or Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development;
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and potential in their university, place of work, and/or community;
  • Demonstrate a commitment or interest in community service, volunteerism, or mentorship;
  • Indicate a serious interest in learning about the United States and Southeast Asia as a region;
  • Be willing to actively participate in an intensive academic program, community service, and study tour;
  • Have a commitment to return to their home country to apply leadership skills and training to benefit their community, country, or the region of Southeast Asia; and
  • Have little or no prior study or travel experience in the United States.

Follow the simple steps below to apply for the YSEALI Academic Fellowship:

  1. Register to be a YSEALI member at yseali.state.gov with an active email address.  (If you are already a YSEALI member, skip this step)
  2. Go to the online application form. 
  3. Answer the questions on the online form.
  4. Click submit.

If applicant encounters difficulty with the online form or receives an error message upon submission of the form, please email a copy of the completed application form to yseali_bsb@state.gov, or contact the YSEALI Coordinator at +673-872-4904.

Submit your application no later than 10:00AM Brunei time on Monday, October 30, 2023.

Incomplete application forms, or applications from non-citizens or non-residents of Brunei Darussalam will not be entertained.

September 29 – October 30, 2023 Application period
October 30, 2023 @ 10.00 A.M. Application deadline for Bruneian applicants
October 30 – November 3, 2023 Application review
November 6 – 10, 2023 Interview by selection panel at the U.S. Embassy BSB (either in-person or virtual interview). Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
January 2024 Announcement of successful candidates
For further enquiries, please contact the YSEALI Coordinator at yseali_bsb@state.gov or WhatsApp +673-872-4904.