Foreign Service Institute

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Foreign Service Institute
U.S. Department of State official seal.svg
Agency overview
FormedMarch 13, 1947; 76 years ago (1947-03-13)
HeadquartersNational 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
Employees1,332 (as of December 2012)[1]
Annual budget$115 million (FY 2012)[1]
Agency executive
Parent departmentU.S. Department of State

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.[2] FSI provides more than 800 courses—including up to 70 foreign languages—to more than 225,000 enrollees a year from the U.S. Department of State and more than 50 other government agencies and the military service branches.[3] FSI is based at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia.

The institute's programs include training for the development of all cadres of the U.S. Department of State, including United States Foreign Service, Civil Service, and Locally Employed staff, who serve at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas as well as in domestic offices. Ranging in length from one day to two years, courses are designed to equip foreign affairs professionals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to achieve U.S. foreign policy priorities, to promote successful performance in each professional assignment, to assist in navigating international transitions, and to enhance the leadership and management capabilities of the U.S. foreign affairs community.[4] Other courses and resources 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,[5] and is appointed by the secretary of state. The FSI director is the chief learning officer responsible for professional training for the U.S. Department of State and federal foreign affairs agencies.


The Foreign Service Institute was first proposed as an in-service, graduate-level training institute for State Department employees and others in the Foreign Service. 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).[6][7]

In 1946, President Truman signed legislation that enabled Secretary of State George C. Marshall to establish the Institute on March 13, 1947. 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.[8]

In 1947, the Foreign Service Institute opened in the Mayfair Building in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C., at 2115 C Street NW, a building that was subsequently razed for the new State Department headquarters.[9] The institute included four schools: Basic Officer Training, Advanced Officer Training, Management and Administrative Training, and Language Training.[8] FSI then moved to leased space in Rosslyn, Virginia until October 1993, when it relocated to its current home. In 1954, the Wriston Report criticized the resources and support being devoted to FSI, and in the following year, FSI overhauled its curriculum, adding longer specialized training, putting a greater emphasis on language training, and opening up courses to wives of Foreign Service Officers.[9][10]

In October 1993, FSI moved to the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia, and remains headquartered there today.[9][8][11][6]

In 2017, FSI celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding, with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training releasing an e-book in honor of its anniversary.[12]


The Foreign Service Institute comprises the School of Language Studies, the School of Professional and Area Studies, the School of Applied Information Technology, the Leadership and Management School, the Transition Center, and the Office of the Historian. FSI also contains an executive office for administrative functions and a number of cross-cutting, Institute-wide offices.[5][8][1]

A selection of language courses advertised in State Magazine by the SLS in July 1997

The School of Language Studies (SLS)[13] 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.[5] Programs and courses of study also include self-study, early morning classes and distance learning courses. FSI is a co-creator of the speaking and reading language proficiency rating scales used throughout the U.S. government. SLS is active within the U.S. government's interagency community of language trainers and testers and frequently benchmarks with external foreign affairs agencies on language instruction.

The School of Professional and Area Studies (SPAS)[14] 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. SPAS provides tailored programs in Consular, Economic and Commercial, Management, Office Management, Political, and Public Diplomacy, as well as new-hire orientation programs and in-depth Area Studies courses. SPAS is also home to the Center for the Study of the Conduct of Diplomacy (CSCD),[15] which examines recent diplomatic experiences in order to capture best practices and lessons learned. CSCD produces comparative analyses which are incorporated into FSI training and used to help prepare foreign affairs professionals at all ranks for the challenges faced at U.S. missions around the world.

The School of Applied Information Technology (SAIT)[16] 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 Leadership and Management School (LMS)[17] 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.[18]

The Transition Center (TC)[19] 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. TC's Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience (CEFAR) provides consultations and training designed to help individuals, family members, and teams perform in high-stress and high-level-threat environments.

The Office of the Historian (OH)[20] is responsible, under law, for the preparation and publication of the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy in the Foreign Relations of the United States series. Published since 1861, the series contains documents from numerous government agencies that reveal how U.S. foreign policy was created and executed at the highest levels. Additionally, the office prepares policy-supportive historical studies, helps train department personnel through historical components taught in Foreign Service Institute courses, and answers historical research questions from scholars, educators, students, journalists, and other agencies. The office's website includes a full text archive of the Foreign Relations series, as well as numerous publications and datasets on the department's institutional history and the history of U.S. foreign relations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Inspection of the Foreign Service Institute" (PDF). Inspector General of the Department of State. March 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  2. ^ Zimmerman, Eilene (December 20, 2008). "Hiring Window Is Open at the Foreign Service". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  3. ^ Reiser, Mindy (May 5, 2017). "Foreign Service Institute Prepares Government Workers for Global Careers". Washington Diplomat. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  4. ^ "Foreign Service Institute". U.S. Department of State - Foreign Service Institute. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "1 FAM 290 Foreign Service Institute (FSI)". Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State. September 8, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Honley, Steven. "The Foreign Service Institute at 70: Recalling a Proud History". Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "Directors of the Foreign Service Institute - Principal Officers - People - Department History - Office of the Historian". Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Battle to Create the Foreign Service Institute". Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c "Foreign Service Institute". Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  10. ^ "'WRISTON REPORT' OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "National Foreign Affairs Training Center 2017 Master Plan Update". General Services Administration. April 7, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Honley, Steven (March 5, 2017). FSI at 70: Future Forward: A History of the Foreign Service Institute. Arlington Hall Press.
  13. ^ "1 FAM 297 School of Language Studies (FSI/SLS)". Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State. December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "1 FAM 294 School of Area and Professional Studies (FSI/SPAS)". Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State. July 13, 2011. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Clark, Charles (February 3, 2016). "State Department Leaders Inaugurate New 'Lessons Learned' Center". Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  16. ^ "1 FAM 296 School of Applied Information Technology (FSI/SAIT)". Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State. December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  17. ^ "1 FAM 295 Leadership and Management School (FSI/LMS)". Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State. September 7, 2007. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  18. ^ "State Dept's Leadership and Mgt School Needs Some Leadership, And It's Not Alone". Diplopundit. May 16, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "1 FAM 298 Transition Center (FSI/TC)". Foreign Affairs Manual. U.S. Department of State. December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  20. ^ "1 FAM 322.1-2 The Office Of the Historian". Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  21. ^ "2012 National Audiovisual Center Collections". NTIS. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  22. ^ Foreign Language Courses Produced by the Federal Government. National Audiovisual Center. 1989. pp. Introduction Letter.

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