Fulbright Scholar Award

Equine Sciences - Human-Horse Interventions


Application Deadline
Monday, September 16, 2024
Award Code
Activity Type
A combination of teaching and research as described above. Refer to the award description for any specifications on percentages of time that should be devoted to teaching vs research.
Degree Requirements
Ph.D. (or other terminal degree) not required
Career Profile
Early Career Academics
Awards are open to those who have been working in the capacity of a teacher or scholar for no more than seven years.
Mid-Career Academics
Awards are open to those who have been working in the capacity of a teacher or scholar for more than seven, and less than 13, years.
Awards are open to individuals who have more than seven years of experience in a particular profession.
Senior Academics
Awards are open to those who have been working in the capacity of a teacher or scholar for more than 13 years.
Community College Faculty
Community College Faculty

Number of recipients

Award Start Period
January 2026
Award Length
4.5 months or 4 months
Flex Option
Multi-Country/Area Award
Projects are sought in all disciplines
Scholars selected for this award will be required to
Advise and/or mentor students
Assist in faculty, curriculum, and/or program development
Teach graduate and/or undergraduate courses designated by the host institution
Award Activity

The scholar is expected to teach/supervise on graduate level a small group of students (2-4). This would be mainly lectures/supervision regarding equine-assisted interventions amounting to 4-6 hours each week. The scholar would also be expected to supervise and/or teach on the undergraduate level for 2-4 hours a week. Teaching and supervising is expected to be approximately 35% of the visiting scholars work. All reading and written assignments are expected to be in English. Supervision duties will involve creating, planning and performing research in the area of equine-assisted activities/therapy in coordination with students and other academics/riding teachers.

The main assignments (approximately 35%) is to develop, in cooperation with the departmental staff, a one-year curriculum at the graduate/diploma level. This new diploma is focused on designing equine-assisted activities and faculty training would be part of the scholar’s duties.  Research duties (30% of the visiting scholar's work) include planning future projects, such as applying for specialized equipment and research for later co-operation. The university is in need of a specialist to walk this path with them and strengthen the project to meet high quality international standards. The aim is then that this diploma will develop into an M.Sc. after operating for 2-3 years. 

Location Selection: Award is hosted by the institution listed below
Locations Detail

Hólar University, Department of Equine Science

Hólar University is located in the beautiful Hjaltadalur valley in northern Iceland. The university is about 1.5 hours’ drive from Akureyri International Airport and 4.5 hours’ drive from Keflavík International Airport. Hólar is a small university with approximately 50 employees and around 300 students. There are three primary study programs, which include the Department of Equine Science, The Department of Rural Tourism and the Department of Aquaculture and Fish Biology. All departments offer programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Despite Hólar University being quite small, it has a large international influence and the community consists of individuals from many different cultural backgrounds. In addition, the university collaborates with other higher institutions abroad to encourage student/staff exchanges as well as facilitating joint/dual-degree programs. 

Award Length and Period

Spring semester 2026, approximately 5th of January 2026 to late May 2026 (other dates can be considered)

Areas of Interest

Applications are sought in all appropriate disciplines, but applications in the following disciplines are preferred: 
Equine sciences
Social work

Specialization: Equine-assisted activities (animal-assisted interventions or equine-assisted therapy)

It is expected that the applicant has insights in some of the programs practiced in the U.S. like the PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and the EGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) program. Minimum requirements for higher education is an M.Sc. degree or equivalent. The applicant must have good knowledge and understanding of the concept therapeutic riding/horsemanship, preferably related to mental health and/or learning. Other specializations are considered, as long as the theory behind the practice is robust and proven to some extent. 

Special Features

The town of Hólar is small, with about 150 – 200 inhabitants depending on the time of year. There is a restaurant but no grocery store in Hólar, so the closest shopping is in Hofsós (15 miles away) and in Sauðárkrókur (19 miles away). The community is close-knit and people find various ways to entertain themselves. Hólar is an active farm and there are a number of horses in the fields around the town. The Hólar forest and surrounding mountains provide ample hiking trails and wildlife-viewing. In the winter, it is popular for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through the forest and pastures. The university has its own geothermal pool and hot tub, along with a gym-hall. For families with children, there is plenty of space to explore Hólar’s nature, such as picking wild blueberries in the autumn and building snowmen in the winter. There is also a local daycare with a newly constructed playground. Hólar is home to a pub and microbrewery in the village, which provide a cozy environment to meet friends and neighbors. People often gather to play sports such as soccer and indoor hockey or gather for game evenings to play bingo and trivia. Festivities are popular in Iceland and Hólar, despite being small, offers multiple festivals and events throughout the year. Laufskálarétt (gathering the horses from the valleys) takes place in September, Þorrablót (mid-winter feast and dance) is in February and the annual Bjórhátið (beer festival) is in June.

Hólar offers several housing options for residents. For more information on the cost and availability of apartments, please visit www.nemendagardar.is. The scholar will have access to a shared university vehicle to use for groceries or appointments. If the scholar would prefer to have their own private vehicle, university employees receive a discount from a local car rental company in Sauðárkrókur. 

The Icelandic horse is one of the purest horse breeds in the world, reaching an average 140 cm height at the withers and weighing between 330-420 kg. The conformation is rectangular and compact, with a sloping croup, and a long, thick mane and tail. The breed is most known and appreciated for the lateral gaits tölt and pace, which it has in addition to the basic gaits (walk, trot and canter/gallop). The breed is found in more than 30 countries, with more Icelandic horses abroad (ca. 175,000) than in Iceland (ca. 65,000). There is one international studbook, WorldFengur, with breeding associations in 21 countries and a common breed evaluation system and competitions. Following mechanization in Iceland around 1950, the role of the Icelandic horse changed from being 'the most useful servant' to that of a leisure and sport horse. The horse is currently not used much for therapeutic riding; however, it is thought to be an excellent candidate as it is very friendly and has comfortable gaits. Their size, character, strength and gaits make it a feasible option for equine assisted activities. 

Hólar University has over 100 horses and there are around 55 students in the Equine Science department. The university has a strong connection with the professionals in the equine sector of Iceland and with public riding schools for children. There are plenty of research opportunities for future cooperation and developing of the relationship between our institution and the visiting scholar as well as other U.S. academics interested in horses and horse-human relationships.

Hólar is a historic university with a long-standing interest in horses and horse-related activities. The BSc program is based on educating riding teachers and trainers for the Icelandic horse all over the world and has an international group of students. The students are primarily from Europe, but several U.S. students have graduate from the department. The Icelandic horse is a calm, rather small and a smart horse, making it ideal as a therapeutic companion. 

All applicants must meet the Program eligibility requirements (click to review the requirements).

Citizenship/Residency Requirement
Applicants residing in the award country at the time of application or thereafter are not eligible to apply for this award.
Permanent residents of the award country are not eligible to apply for this award.
Invitation Requirement
A letter of invitation is preferred.
Invitation Requirement Additional Information

A letter of invitation from the host institution is strongly recommended.

Language Proficiency Requirements
None, English is sufficient
Additional Qualification Information

It is expected that the applicant has knowledge in the main programs practiced for public in the U.S. like the PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and the EGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) program. Minimum requirements for higher education is an M.Sc. degree or equivalent. The applicant must have good knowledge and understanding of the concept therapeutic riding/horsemanship preferably related to mental health and/or learning. Other specializations are considered, as long as the theory behind the practice is robust and proven to some extent. 

Additional Comments

Further information and a letter of invitation can be sought from Professor Sveinn Ragnarsson (sveinn@holar.is) and International Representative Amber C. Monroe (rnk@holar.is).

Address (department, complete postal and/or street address):
Equine Sciences
Hólum í Hjaltadal
551 Sauðárkrókur 

For additional contacts and information, please contact at the Fulbright Commission in Reykjavik, Iceland: fulbright@fulbright.is.


Award Allowances

$4,000 per month or $4,500 per month for grantees with a dependent or dependents, payable monthly.  A dependent must stay in Iceland for at least 80% of the grant period to be eligible for a dependent supplement.

The grant is denominated in U.S. dollars but paid in Icelandic krona (ISK), according to the current exchange rate.

The grant is intended to cover living costs in Iceland.

No separate housing allowance provided (grantees pay for housing out of the stipend). Grantees are responsible for arranging their own housing, but the host institution is expected to assist the grantee in finding housing and settling in. Host institutions may in some instances be able to provide on-campus housing.

Estimated Travel and Relocation Allowance for Grantee

Travel allowance is a lump sum $1,500, payable with the first grant payment.
Baggage allowance is $400, payable at the end of the grant period.

No receipt is needed for travel and baggage allowance. 
All allowances are denominated in U.S. dollars but paid in ISK, according to the current exchange rate.

Do you offer additional dependent benefits

A $500 travel allowance per dependent.

Children can attend primary and lower-secondary public schools at little or no cost, which is a great way to integrate into Icelandic society. The Commission can assist grantees in finding an appropriate local public school.

Dependents must accompany the grantee for at least 80% of the period abroad and a minimum of one semester in order to qualify for additional dependent benefits. Dependent benefits are not provided to Flex grantees.

Estimated Cost of Living

Iceland is considered a high-cost country. Housing is comparable to smaller US cities, with housing most expensive in the capital area and less expensive outside the capital area. Food is relatively expensive compared to the US, but of high quality. Utilities are much less expensive than in the US. Many grantees live centrally and can walk to most destinations, but public transport in the form of buses is widely available.

Special Award Benefits

The scholar will be invited to monthly grantee enrichment events provided by the Fulbright Commission during the academic year. Also, the scholar will be taken out to lunch at the beginning and end of the grant period for briefing and debriefing. 

Special funding for disabled grantees
Funding is available for US Fulbright scholars to Iceland with a disability, be it a structural or functional impairment or activity/participation limitation, that entails additional costs that are not covered specifically through the Fulbright Program. Some funding may be available for a wide range of disabilities, including, for example, hearing, vision or movement impairment. The funding could, for example, be used to assist with specialized housing needs, in-country transport or specialized assistance. The extra funding amount will depend on need and will be decided by the Commission after consultation with the scholar. Funding is provided through the Bruce A. Fowler Mobility Fund.


What is life like for Fulbrighters in your country?

Iceland is a small Nordic country, an island republic in the North Atlantic, between the U.S. and the European mainland. Iceland is technologically advanced, English is widely spoken and Americans find Icelandic society and culture relatively easy to navigate.

scholar standing on edge of volcano
Fulbright-NSF Arctic scholar Dr. Christopher Hamilton visiting the Fagradal Volcano in 2021

There has been tremendous growth in academia in Iceland in recent years. On the one hand, the Fulbright Program aims, through teaching grants, to enhance and develop key disciplines at the university level and encourage newer and smaller departments. Being a small country, it is very important to the Icelandic higher education system to have access to Fulbright Scholars who have an important role to play in terms of broadening curricula and offering courses that would otherwise not be available, as well as bringing new perspectives and collaboration in research. Fulbright Scholars make a real difference and have a large role in shaping courses and curricula. The Fulbright Commission has increasingly focused also on bringing research scholars to Iceland. Opportunities for research are many and varied and can easily be conducted in English. U.S. scholars, both in natural and social sciences, have in the past years been very satisfied with the research infrastructure in Iceland. Research collaboration is also highly valued by Icelandic academics, who are eager for opportunities to host and collaborate with U.S. colleagues. Through the Commission's partnership with the National Science Foundation, the goal is to strengthen research in Iceland that has relevance for the Arctic and promote cooperation amongst scientists in a wide variety of Arctic relevant fields. Please note that many research topics can have relevance to the Arctic, even though they may not be strictly categorized as Arctic research, for example topics dealing with climate change, health, conservation, security broadly defined (for example, food or energy security), marine or coastal studies, anthropology and archaeology, just to name a few.

Fulbright Scholars are generally pleased with their stay in Iceland and find it very useful for their careers back home. For those grants where Fulbright Scholars are expected to teach and advise, the program is designed to ensure an opportunity for scholars to do their own research as well, if they so desire. Iceland provides very interesting research opportunities in many fields. As a small, highly technologically advanced country, Iceland is ideal for many types of research. English is widely spoken and much used in academia. Scholars can generally expect good access to people, institutions and information for research purposes. 

Those who receive research grants will have opportunities to engage in some teaching and lecturing, if they so desire. Many find that this enhances their experience and is useful also for their research. Even if not teaching, scholars are required to present some talks while in Iceland.

Teaching awards are for three to five months in the fall or spring semester. The fall semester starts at mid-to-end of August and ends around mid-December. The spring semester is from early January through mid-May. Research awards are more flexible in terms of time frame and length, but must be completed within the allotted time frame.

Iceland has spectacular nature and offers scholars an opportunity for unique outdoor experiences, in addition to a vibrant cultural scene and an exciting local cuisine. There is a good public school system, and scholars with children have had positive experiences.

Since the Fulbright Program in Iceland is relatively small, the Commission is able to maintain close ties with scholars during their stay and provide a sense of community among Fulbright scholars and fellows. There are monthly grantee activities sponsored by the Commission, in addition to access to Fulbright alumni events and other social activities.

Please see below a grantee video profile of a young scholar who talks about her experiences as a researcher in Iceland:

Previous Fulbright Recipients

Visit the Fulbright Iceland website for information about current and previous grantees.