International Exchange Program


Since 1984, the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (World Heritage USA) International Exchange Program (IEP) has worked with heritage partners around the world to provide hands-on training opportunities for emerging cultural heritage professionals. To date, more than 700 interns from over 100 countries have participated in the program. The IEP sends participants from the United States to internship placements abroad and welcomes international participants to placements in the United States, in order to expose the next generation of heritage professionals to global best practices of historic preservation and heritage conservation. In this way, the program encourages the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and practices, enabling hosts and interns to learn from one another and increase their impact in the heritage field.

Each year, World Heritage USA (formerly US/ICOMOS) seeks public or private nonprofit heritage organizations and graduate students and emerging professionals specialized in historic preservation or heritage conservation to participate in the International Exchange Program. Hosts and interns are selected on a competitive basis. Internships are approximately 12 weeks in length (including orientation and the final program) and take place during the summer between June and August. World Heritage USA hosts all interns in Washington D.C. for a program orientation at the beginning of the summer. Interns then travel to their various host locations where they complete a 10-week preservation-related project designed by the host organization. At the end of the summer, all interns gather in Washington, D.C. for a final debriefing and farewell program.

IEP projects are varied and correspond to the needs and requirements of the host organizations. The host defines the project to be completed; an internship is not an independent research opportunity. Applicants may indicate a preference for the type of project they wish to be assigned, but must be willing to accept any position which may be located anywhere in the world. Assignments are made on the basis of the best match between the proposed project and the applicant’s background and skills.

The cultural heritage field requires collaboration between people and organizations from different countries, communities, and cultures. In our increasingly interconnected and globalized world, organizations and emerging professionals must analyze and solve heritage problems from a variety of perspectives. By participating in the IEP, interns gain international experience at an early stage in their careers, broadening their worldview and preparing them for success in multicultural environments. In addition to strengthening professional heritage skills, the IEP fosters lifelong relationships between participants and their host organizations, creating a global network of heritage professionals. These connections have resulted in continued collaboration between people, communities, and organizations on heritage projects around the world.

2023 International Exchange Program

World Heritage USA, U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, is seeking applications for its 2023 International Exchange Program. You can apply as:

An Intern: a graduate student or emerging professional specializing in historic preservation or heritage conservation who is interested in strengthening professional heritage skills while gaining international experience

A Host: a heritage organization willing to provide an intern with hands-on training in historic preservation or heritage conservation

2023 IEP Schedule:

January 9 – IEP Intern Applications Due
January 23 – IEP Host Applications Due
February – March – Interns are matched to hosts; Hosts approve placements; Final selections are made
April 10 – Deadline for interns to accept placements
April 17 – All signed agreements in place
June 14 – Intern orientation in Washington D.C.
June 19 – August 25 – Internship at the host organization
August 28 – 30 – Closing reception in Washington D.C

Intern Qualifications

Applicants should have a strong interest in historic preservation and cultural heritage. At a minimum, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in a preservation or conservation related field (such as history, architecture, archaeology, conservation, art history, cultural resource management, or cultural tourism) with coursework and/or experience in preservation. The IEP is designed for students enrolled in / completing graduate programs and emerging professionals who have been working professionally within 3 years of graduating from an academic program.

Candidates are asked to submit a curriculum vitae, two letters of recommendation, a 500-word essay describing their motivation for wanting to participate in the program, and examples of their work. All applications are reviewed by a volunteer professional jury that makes recommendations for intern selection and placement. The application materials for recommended interns are then forwarded to the respective host organizations for review and approval. Only after the host organization has approved the intern will the applicant be notified of the internship to which they have been assigned.

Interns are selected on the basis of demonstrated skills, commitment to historic preservation, previous experience, and academic concentration in the field, as well as their ability to represent their country in an exchange program. Most importantly, interns are selected based on how well their skills, training, interest and previous experience align with the needs of host organizations. Therefore, not every qualified candidate will be selected to participate in the IEP.

Intern Responsibilities

Interns are selected on a competitive basis and are expected to be professional in their behavior and work ethic. Each World Heritage USA IEP Intern agrees to:

  • Obtain a visa, if required.
  • Maintain valid medical insurance, if required.
  • Work a 5-day week, keeping the hours of the regular staff, and participate in staff activities.
  • Complete the assigned project(s) within the duration of the internship.
  • Discuss any problems with the host organizations supervisor and contact World Heritage USA if resolution is not possible.
  • Try to learn as much as possible about the host country’s preservation techniques and philosophies, as well as local culture.
  • Complete two evaluations during the program, and one at the end of the program (using online forms provided by World Heritage USA).
  • Prepare and present a PowerPoint presentation and companion presentation board of project findings to be delivered at the concluding symposium.

Applications for 2023 are now closed. Please check back in December 2023 for our 2024 program.

Intern Stipends

World Heritage USA provides stipends to all interns through donations, fundraising efforts, and host contributions. The stipends provided to interns are intended to cover basic living expenses (food and housing) for the duration of the internship. World Heritage USA will cover housing costs during the orientation and the final program in Washington D.C. In some cases, travel grants may be available for U.S. interns traveling overseas, but international interns coming to the U.S. must provide their own round-trip travel unless otherwise arranged.

The precise amount of stipends and coverage of travel costs depends on several factors, including the amount of donations received, whether free or reduced housing is provided by the host organization, and the relative cost of living in each internship location. In all cases, interns are strongly encouraged to bring with them sufficient personal funds to cover entertainment and other costs.

Intern stipends are considered to be reimbursement for living expenses, NOT salary or wages, so they are not considered to be taxable income.

Sponsor an IEP Intern!

Host Qualifications

IEP hosts should be public or private nonprofit heritage organizations interested in hosting and providing an intern with a professional development opportunity. The host organization must formulate a project that can be completed by the intern within the 10-12 week period internship period. The project should provide the intern with practical work experience / training and must be supervised by a designated mentor for the duration of the internship.

Host Responsibilities

To ensure the success of the internship, IEP host organizations will:

  • Formulate a project (or series of smaller projects) that the intern can complete within the 10-12 week period.
  • Provide for all project-related expenses, including out-of-pocket expenses that may be incurred by the intern during the course of the internship (such as transportation to and from the work site, project materials, etc.)
  • Provide assistance and/or arrange for housing for the duration of the internship (Note: interns pay for their housing out of their stipend. If the host organization is able to provide subsidized or free housing, the host contribution to World Heritage USA and the intern’s stipend can be reduced).
  • Monitor the intern and provide supervision as would be done for a paid employee.
  • Include the intern, whenever possible, in meetings, outings, and extra-curricular activities. An important aspect of the internship is meeting other preservation professionals and exploring the host country, its culture, and customs.
  • Complete two evaluations (using online forms provided by World Heritage USA)

2023 IEP Host Applications are complete. Please apply for the 2024 program in December.

Host Contributions

U.S. host organizations provide a significant portion (but not all) of the costs associated with the internship. International host organizations provide free or low cost housing and project-related travel.

Additional support to the IEP is provided by substantial contributions from private foundations and individual donations.

Past Host Organizations and Sponsors

Visit these links and scroll down to view past host organizations and program sponsors and funders:

List of past Host Organizations
List of program Sponsors and Funders

World Heritage USA Responsibilities

To ensure the success of the International Exchange Program. the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and practices, and the development of the next generation of heritage professionals, Wold Heritage USA will:

  • Endeavor to place the most capable and suitable candidate with each host organization.
  • Allow host organizations to review and approve the selected candidate before placement.
  • Coordinate the exchange visitor J-1 visa process for all interns entering the United States. (U.S. interns traveling overseas must arrange for their own visas)
  • Obtain temporary travel insurance for all interns for travel to and from their internship location.
  • Issue stipend checks to interns in the U.S. on a regular schedule throughout the internship.
  • Provide meals and accomodation to all interns during the orientation and final programs in Washington D.C.
  • Assist both the intern and host organization staff throughout the internship to ensure that the internship is successful and rewarding.