Once eligible non-U.S. institutions explore the Fulbright Specialist Program, they develop and submit Specialist project requests through the appropriate Fulbright agency in their country (either a Fulbright commission or U.S. embassy public affairs section). Host institutions can email firstname.lastname@example.org for Fulbright agency contact information in their country.
After a Specialist project request is approved by the Fulbright commission or U.S. embassy, the project request is forwarded to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) for final approval. ECA reviews the project to make sure it is in line with the goals and guidelines of the Fulbright Specialist Program. CIES cannot receive project requests directly and does not have influence on project approval.
Institutions can identify a desired U.S. Roster candidate by name in the project request, or describe the desired background of a Specialist. Institutions can also inquire with their local Fulbright agency about Specialists currently on the Roster, and in some cases can be granted Online System access to the Roster when completing a project request.
Project requests must be submitted by host institutions to the local Fulbright agency with at least three months of lead time. More lead time is needed for projects if no specific candidate has been identified or if the preferred candidate has not yet joined the U.S. Specialist Roster. The timeline for the Specialist project approval process differs for each country and is separate from the timeline for review of U.S. Roster applicants. It is important for host institutions to remember that all project requests must be approved by the Fulbright commission or U.S. embassy as well as the U.S. Department of State.
Each embassy and commission is limited to the number of Specialist projects it can sponsor per fiscal year, so in countries where the Specialist Program is popular there may be a project review cycle. In order to plan and time a project appropriately, it is imperative that host institutions contact their local Fulbright agency as early as possible to determine whether such a cycle exists. Communication with the local Fulbright agency prior to project submission is crucial to developing a competitive project.
Fulbright commissions and U.S. embassies are not required to sponsor any projects, so decisions made at that level should be considered final. Note that some Fulbright agencies may choose to prioritize certain disciplines above others, or otherwise use the Fulbright Specialist Program in country-specific ways. Common reasons for projects not being approved include insufficient lead time, insufficient cost-share details, projects involving personal or collaborative research, and projects outside of the disciplines eligible under FSP. There are no guarantees that a project will be approved.