The Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week consultancies at host institutions across the globe. Each year, 425 specialists travel to 160 countries and other areas around the world to serve as short-term consultants, lecturers, researchers, or other experts in 24 different fields of study.
What is the Fulbright Specialist Program? The Fulbright Specialist Program, part of the larger Fulbright Program, was established in 2001 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The program pairs highly qualified U.S. academics and professionals with host institutions abroad to share their expertise, strengthen institutional linkages, hone their skills, gain international experience, and learn about other cultures while building capacity at their overseas host institutions. The Fulbright Specialist Program aims to provide a short-term, on-demand resource to international host institutions, giving them greater flexibility in how they participate with Fulbright. Specialists are strongly encouraged to continue to work with host institutions in the years following their initial exchange, creating opportunities for ongoing cooperation and consultancies.
How is the Fulbright Specialist Program Different from other Fulbright Programs? The Fulbright Specialist Program offers year-round project opportunities of two to six weeks in length. The shorter duration of Specialist projects is beneficial for both the U.S. academic or professional who may not be available to leave their position for an extended period of time and the host institution which needs an experienced partner on a short-term basis. Through the Fulbright Specialist Program, U.S. academics and professionals can apply their knowledge and expertise to a diverse array of activities including, but not limited to:
The Fulbright Specialist Program also distinguishes itself through the diversity of its participants. Both university faculty members and highly experienced non-academics, including legal experts, business professionals, artists, scientists, and journalists, are encouraged to apply and use their unique expertise in support of host institutions abroad.
The Fulbright Specialist Program welcomes participation from a wide array of institutions, including universities, non-governmental organizations, cultural centers, and medical facilities. By implementing their designed project in collaboration with the Fulbright Specialist, host institutions gain global perspectives from experienced academics and professionals, execute projects that require a rapid response or flexible timeline through short-term, year-round exchanges, and build sustained relationships with individuals and institutions in the U.S.
How can I bring a Fulbright Specialist to my institution? The Fulbright Specialist Program is a field-driven initiative in which host institutions abroad conceptualize and design projects of interest that represent a priority for their respective organizations. Belgian and Luxembourgish institutions interested in the program can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the program and request an application form. Once a host institution has developed their initial project design, they submit a project proposal to the Fulbright Commission. If the Fulbright Commission approves the project proposal, that proposal is forwarded to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), for further review and approval. A project is only officially approved after the review by ECA.
Do I have to have a particular Specialist in mind? The Fulbright Commission accepts both open and named projects. When a prospective host institution completes a project proposal to be reviewed by the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in their country, they can identify their project as either an “open project” or “named project.” A project is designated as open if the host institution does not name a specific individual to serve as the Specialist; the project is instead shared on an online portal and all individuals on the Fulbright Specialist Roster can apply. A project is designated as named if the host institution identifies a particular individual they would like to serve as the Fulbright Specialist in the project proposal; this person may or may not currently be on the Fulbright Specialist Roster.
How selective is the application process? The Fulbright Commission can only support a limited number of Fulbright Specialists per year and slots are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis to projects that meet the Commission’s goals and priorities. Not all proposals submitted will be approved. Host institutions should note that the entire process takes several months to complete, but applications are accepted year-round. If you’re interested in bringing a Fulbright Specialist to your campus within the next one or two academic years, we recommend that you reach out to the Fulbright Commission to discuss your proposal and learn more about available funding.
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), along with host institutions abroad, provide U.S.-based Specialists with full funding to participate in Fulbright Specialist projects. Benefits include:
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