For decades, conservation professionals have come from all over the world to train with the Smithsonian Institution. More than half of our Smithsonian-Mason training course participants hail from outside the United States, representing 88 different countries to date.
Our graduate and professional courses are open to anyone who shares our passion for conservation. Due to the fast pace and technical nature of these courses, all participants should have some background in the field and be fluent in English.
Obtaining a U.S. Visa
All international participants who need a visa to attend a course in the U.S. must have the approved visa in hand two weeks prior to the course start date. If your approved visa is not available by that time, registration will be cancelled and course payments will be refunded.
Types of Visas
- B-1 Visa: If you are still searching for funding to attend a course, we recommend you request a B-1 visa. Bring our conditional acceptance letter with you to your visa appointment.
- J-1 Visa: If you have already secured full funding (course registration fee + travel) and have been formally accepted to the course, we recommend you request a J-1 visa. The Smithsonian Office of International Relations may be able to sponsor you for a J-1 visa if you notify us at least three months prior to the course start date so that we have enough time to act on your behalf. If you have secured full course funding, email us to determine if we can proceed with sponsorship.
- Scholarship Recipients: Please note that some scholarship support provided by SMSC to individuals to attend our training programs will require that the individual enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa. If you are offered a scholarship, we will make it clear whether this requirement applies to your particular award.
Scholarships for Visa Recipients
We have limited scholarship funding available for international participants. Most SMSC scholarships do not cover travel costs.
For scholarship consideration, check the scholarship interest box on your application. We will notify you as to the funding you might be eligible to receive. Be sure to apply before the initial application deadline to allow ample time for the visa process.
International Health Insurance
Health insurance coverage is not supplied by George Mason University or the Smithsonian Institution. You should have medical insurance that provides coverage during travel and for the duration of the course. (This is a requirement for participants entering the U.S. on a J-1 visa.) Please bring proof of your insurance when you come to campus. Email your course coordinator if you have difficulty obtaining insurance.