Foreign Service Institute

For the Indian institute, see Foreign Service Institute, India.
Not to be confused with Foreign Service Academy.
Foreign Service Institute

Agency overview
Formed March 13, 1947 (1947-03-13)
Headquarters National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Coordinates: 38°52′04″N 77°06′08″W / 38.8677°N 77.1023°W / 38.8677; -77.1023
Agency executive
Parent department U.S. Department of State
Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, Director of FSI since 2013

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the United States federal government's primary training institution for employees of the U.S. foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats as well as other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in Washington. FSI provides more than 600 courses — including over 70 foreign languages — to more than 100,000 enrollees a year from the Department of State and more than 40 other government agencies and the military service branches. The FSI is based at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia.

The Institute's programs include training for the development of United States Foreign Service and Civil Service professionals, and for Foreign Service Nationals who work at U.S. posts around the world. Ranging in length from one day to two years, courses are designed to promote successful performance in each professional assignment, to ease the adjustment to other countries and cultures, and to enhance the leadership and management capabilities of the U.S. foreign affairs community. Other courses and services help family members prepare for the demands of a mobile lifestyle and living abroad, and provide employees and their families with important information about such critical and timely topics as emergency preparedness and cyber-security awareness, among others.

The Director of the Foreign Service Institute is equivalent in rank to an Assistant Secretary of State,[1] and is appointed by the Secretary of State. The current Director of the Foreign Service Institute is Ambassador Nancy McEldowney.


The Foreign Service Institute was initially authorized in Title VII of the Foreign Service Act. The issuance of Departmental orders fulfilling this section of the Act were delayed by the need to first resolve certain administrative issues. The orders were ultimately issued and, on March 13, 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the establishment of the Foreign Service Institute.

A number of different training schools and programs preceded the Foreign Service Institute, including the Consular School of Application (1907), the Wilson Diplomatic School (1909), the Foreign Service School (1924), the Foreign Service Officers' Training School (1931) and the Division of Training Services (1945).


The Leadership and Management (FSI/LMS) offers mandatory and elective leadership and management training for supervisors and managers from entry to executive levels; roundtables and policy seminars for senior leaders; and crisis management training overseas and at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center.

The School of Language Studies (FSI/SLS) offers instruction in more than 70 languages and proficiency testing in over 100 languages. Enrollments may be 8–44 weeks, depending on the difficulty of the language and the individual's proficiency objectives. The Foreign Service Institute's School of Language Studies also maintains a network of language field schools in Taipei, Yokohama, Seoul, and other regional programs in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia where a further 44 weeks of instruction is offered overseas in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic. Programs and courses of study also include self-study, early morning classes and distance learning courses.

The School of Professional and Area Studies (FSI/SPAS) offers training in foreign affairs specialties, such as consular, management tradecraft, political and economic affairs, public diplomacy, curriculum and staff development, office management, and orientation programs. It also offers guidance on the socio-cultural patterns, politics, economics, and international relations of world regions and individual countries.

The School of Applied Information Technology (FSI/SAIT) is led by Harvey Vazquez and is divided into four broad generalities: training to improve the business application skills of all employees, training in the technologies employed across the Department of State for IT professionals, IRM tradecraft courses that provide IT managers with broad IT management skills, and training for new Information Management Specialists and Information Management Technical Specialists to prepare them for initial and continued overseas employment with the Department.

The Transition Center (FSI/TC) prepares employees and their family members for effectiveness in the foreign affairs community throughout, and after, their careers. The Transition Center provides: insights and information on all domestic and overseas posts; workshops and courses on Foreign Service life skills and security training; and training, counseling, and other assistance for Department of State and foreign affairs employees from other agencies leaving U.S. Government service.

The Office of the Executive Director for Management (FSI/EX) is responsible for the management and operation functions in support of training programs.

See also


  1. 1 FAM 290
  2. "2012 National Audiovisual Center Collections". NTIS. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  3. "Foreign Language Courses Produced by the Federal Government". National Audiovisual Center. 1989. pp. Introduction Letter.
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