What is the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Program?

The U.S. Department of State established the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program in October 2002 in recognition of the importance of youth exchange as a key component to build bridges between citizens of the U.S. and countries around the world. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and provides scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to attend high school in the U.S., live with an American host family, and serve as “youth ambassadors” for their home countries.

The YES program officially launched in Malaysia in 2004 to expand communication between the people of United States and Malaysia to promote mutual understanding and respect. Since then, more than 550 Malaysian students have participated in the YES program and are now members of the YES and U.S. Embassy Alumni communities. Malaysian YES students spend one academic semester in the U.S. from January – June 2022.

The U.S. State Department’s YES program is administered in partnership with a consortium of non-profit organizations. In Malaysia, AFS Malaysia manages YES in partnership with the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur.

Please be informed this YES Program is open for Form 3 and Form 5 in 2021 or other equivalent grade students only.

Program Details

Program Name: YES Program
Cohort: NH22
Cost: Full Scholarship
Program Date: January – June 2022
Placement: Hosted by host family in the U.S. 
Duration: 1 Semester
Application deadline: 30 April 2021

Requirements for Application?

In keeping with the U.S. Government-sponsored initiatives dedicated to democratic reform, the competition for the Youth Exchange and Study scholarship is merit-based and open at no cost to all applicants who meet the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in Form 3 or Form 5 / other equivalent grade at the time of application. Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply and contact AFS Malaysia office for information on eligibility.
  • Applicant’s date of birth must be between January 15, 2004 and January 15, 2007.
  • Have the equivalent of a B average or better and no failing grades.
  • Be a citizen of Malaysia.
  • Demonstrated leadership, community involvement in extracurricular activities.


YES seeks to ensure diverse participation in the program, representing all of Malaysian society.

Jonathan Lee  (2)


Say "YES"!

  1. Get out of your comfort zone and explore the world.
  2. Become a member of an American family; create lifelong friendships.
  3. Discover the real you by seeing how others view you.
  4. Build your cultural awareness; broaden your perspectives on global issues.
  5. Be a youth ambassador for Malaysia.
  6. Experience an international education at a U.S. high school.
  7. Develop leadership and community service skills you can bring back to Malaysia.
  8. Improve your English language proficiency.
  9. Develop skills to stand out in the competitive modern job market.
  10. Join 10,000 plus YES alumni from more than 40 countries around the globe.

For Parents

Studying abroad in high school is an exciting journey for both you and your child. We have compiled the information below to help answer some of the questions you may have about the YES program experience. For further information, please e-mail the YES office in your country.

YES participants are placed in volunteer host family homes and into host schools in the United States by established and reputable placement organizations that have competitively been awarded grants by the U.S. Department of State to implement the placement portion of the YES program. While on the program, your child will have regular contact with a trained coordinator in his or her community who will provide support, assistance, and guidance, and who will be in regular contact with the placement organization’s national headquarters.

As the consortium lead on the grant for YES operations, also competitively awarded by the U.S. Department of State, American Councils has a national office in Washington, DC, which cooperates with all placement organizations nationwide and with all overseas recruiting offices. Each country participating in the YES program has an in-country office with at least one permanent employee in each YES country. These staff, who are the main contacts for the parents of YES students, in turn communicate with all organizations placing YES students in host communities.

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Application Selection

There are multiple rounds to the YES application and selection process. All applicants are required to take an English proficiency exam, write a proctored essay, complete a YES program application, and participate in group and individual in-person interviews. All finalists are selected on the basis of merit.

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