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MEPI Student Leaders Program

The Student Leaders program is an intensive 6-week exchange program to the United States for approximately 120 undergraduate students from the Middle East and North Africa. Students are divided among up to six U.S. academic institutions where they develop leadership skills and expand their understanding of civil society, as well as the democratic process and how both may be applied in their home communities. Participants have the opportunity to meet their American peers, engage in local community service activities, and observe and take part in the governmental process on the local, state, and federal levels. The institutes include academic coursework, as well as study tours to various regions of the United States. Upon completion of the U.S.-based programs, host institutes work with participants to implement civic engagement programs in their home communities. An alumni event is generally held in the region approximately 6 months after the U.S. portion of the program.


Places targeted: Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and West Bank/Gaza.


This program is open to university students between the ages of 20 and 24. We seek a gender-balanced pool of candidates and prefer traditionally underserved participants when possible. Those who have traveled to the U.S. or studied abroad are ineligible. Applicants should demonstrate sufficient English-language skills to participate in U.S. university-level classes and must be enrolled in and attending a university in their home countries. At the time of application and while participating in the program, participants must be citizens of Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, or West Bank/Gaza, and cannot hold U.S. citizenship or be a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident.


Participants are recruited by and apply through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home countries and are then interviewed and nominated by Embassies. The Student Leaders Program recruitment is typically managed by the Public Affairs Office in conjunction with the local MEPI Coordinator/Administrator. Embassies conduct interviews for selected candidates. Participants travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
Applicants may get information on the recruitment and application process at the U.S. Embassy in the country where they reside.  For other questions, please e-mail:


Recruitment for 2016 program is now OPEN.

Please contact the U.S. Embassy in your country regarding the application process.