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Foreign Service Institute

Foreign Service Institute

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The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Federal Government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

's primary training institution for employees of the U.S. foreign affairs community, preparing American diplomats and other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in Washington. FSI provides more than 600 courses — including some 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
National Foreign Affairs Training Center
The George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center is one of several locations that house the Foreign Service Institute , the United States government's training school for members of the U.S. foreign affairs community. It is located at Arlington Hall in Arlington, Virginia.-External...

 in Arlington, Virginia.

The Institute's programs include training for the development of United States Foreign Service
United States Foreign Service
The United States Foreign Service is a component of the United States federal government under the aegis of the United States Department of State. It consists of approximately 11,500 professionals carrying out the foreign policy of the United States and aiding U.S...

 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
United States Assistant Secretary of State
In modern times, Assistant Secretary of State is a title used for many executive positions in the United States State Department. A set of six Assistant Secretaries reporting to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs manage diplomatic missions within their designated geographic regions, plus one...

, and is appointed by the Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

. The current Director of the Foreign Service Institute is Dr. Ruth A. Whiteside.


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
George Marshall
George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

 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 School (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
National Foreign Affairs Training Center
The George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center is one of several locations that house the Foreign Service Institute , the United States government's training school for members of the U.S. foreign affairs community. It is located at Arlington Hall in Arlington, Virginia.-External...


The School of Language Studies (FSI/SLS) offers instruction in nearly 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 Tunis. At the field schools, a further 44 weeks of instruction is offered overseas in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

, Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

, and Arabic. Programs and courses of study also include self-study, early morning classes and distance learning courses. Of these four "super-hard" languages, FSI considers Japanese to be the most difficult for native speakers of English.

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 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 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

  • National Technical Information Service
    National Technical Information Service
    The National Technical Information Service is an agency within the United States Department of Commerce that serves as the U.S. government repository for research and development results and for other information produced by and for the government as well as a variety of public and private sources...

    - Only officially authorized source for FSI language material.

External links