The focus of this study is to compare the United States Fulbright educational exchange program and the European Union Erasmus Mundus mobility program. Within the international higher education community, these two programs have been placed in the same box, uttered in the same sentence, and said to be rival competitors in the game of competing for foreign students. Furthermore, the new Erasmus Mundus program is assumed to be modeled after the 60-year-old Fulbright program. Using this rhetoric as a jumping off point to conduct a comparative research study, this study analyzes the policy process leading to the implementation of these two programs. As such, the study offers an in-depth look at the unique attributes and dimensions of phase one of the policy process: agenda setting. By means of a policy analysis, this study investigates documents as a way to compare the two program s conceptions. After analyzing the policy problems, objectives, instruments, linkages, and the normative basis of the policy process leading to the conception of the two programs, these characteristics are infused into an adapted agenda setting model with three streams: problems, politics, and policies. Finally, a comparative discussion draws the conclusion that even though the scaffolding of these programs is parallel, the conception of the programs is quite different. This is likely the first comparative analysis of these two programs.