Develop and Submit a Specialist Project Request
Requesting a Fulbright Specialist
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.
Specialist Project Request Steps
A potential non-U.S. host institution contacts the Fulbright agency in their country (a Fulbright commission or the public affairs section of the U.S. embassy) to request the Fulbright Specialist Project Request Form and to inquire about approval timelines, current initiatives, and other helpful project request submission information.
The potential host institution completes the Fulbright Specialist Project Request Form. The commission or embassy may provide guidance and support to the institution as they prepare the request. Note: A potential host may at this point include the name of a preferred candidate on the proposal form.
Once the form is complete, the institution submits the form to the local Fulbright commission or U.S. embassy for approval.
The commission or embassy approves the project and submits it to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State for final approval. Note: Approval timelines differ by country. Institutions should inquire with their local Fulbright agency for information on timelines, current project initiatives, and other information before submitting project requests.
ECA reviews the project request and may contact the commission or embassy for clarification or revision. ECA either approves or rejects the project. Approved projects are forwarded to CIES for grants administration.
CIES processes approved requests by contacting potential Specialist Roster candidates to ascertain their availability and interest. A candidate's curriculum vitae is forwarded to the commission or embassy and the host institution for final selection.
For project requests submitted requesting a Specialist by name, the named Specialist is contacted first by CIES to ascertain his or her availability. In such cases the named request is the priority candidate but is not guaranteed selection as the final grantee.
For projects without a named request, eligible qualified Roster candidates will be contacted to ascertain availability and interest in the project. Roster candidates will be asked to submit a two page summary outlining their qualifications for and approach to the current project. This summary and the candidate’s application from the Roster will then be forwarded to the Fulbright commission or U.S. embassy for final selection.
The commission or embassy informs CIES of its final selection. All candidates are informed of their status. At this point the project moves into grants administration and the confirmed Specialist receives his or her grant information from CIES to prepare for the project.
The host institution covers the cost of grantee housing, meals, and any necessary, program-related, in-country transportation. In-country costs may be supplied by the host institution as in-kind services and/or monies paid directly to the grantee. Note that in-country transportation refers to transportation once the Specialist has arrived in the city of the activity, and not to flights taken as part of the international travel.
CIES administers the U.S. Department of State (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) funds for the grantee’s international travel costs, to be paid prior to departure, and provides a daily stipend of $200, to be paid upon return and completion of an online final report and travel expense report. The grant payment of $200 is paid for every day of the grant period, including weekends and travel days.
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Since each Fulbright agency has particular review timelines, promotes various in-country initiatives, and is interested in particular aspects of project requests, potential host institutions should inquire with a Fulbright agency contact to ensure that their project request is strong and addresses all aspects of what the Fulbright agency in their country is looking for in Specialist projects.
All Fulbright Specialist projects must be driven by the needs of the host institution and goals of the Fulbright commissions and public affairs offices of U.S. embassies, rather than the desires of the grantee.
Although Roster candidates can initiate the project development process by contacting colleagues at a potential host institution, projects must focus on the institutional needs of the host institution and may not focus on grantee research or study. Each Fulbright commission or U.S. embassy determines the best process for approving project requests. It is up to the host institution to investigate how the particular Fulbright agency receives, processes, and approves Specialist project requests.
Institutions should ensure that sufficient time is given for project approval
Fulbright commissions or U.S. embassies require at least a three-month lead time for project approval. Other timelines and submission deadlines differ by country.
Below is a general checklist of aspects the institution should note when completing a project request form, proposing a potential project opportunity for a preferred Specialist.
The host institution:
- Is a non-U.S., post-secondary academic institution or an education-focused organization.
- Has documented its willingness to provide housing or a housing allowance for the Specialist for the specific dates of the project.
- Has documented its willingness to provide meals or a per diem allowance for the Specialist for the duration of the project.
- Has documented its willingness to pay for and arrange all in-country grant-related travel for the duration of the project.
- Has documented its willingness to arrange for the Specialist’s arrival and pickup from the airport.
The proposed project:
- Has a grant length of 14 to 42 days, including estimated round trip travel days to the host institution, weekends, and public holidays.
- Entails that the Specialist’s role will adhere to those listed in the ‘Sample Fulbright Specialist Activities’ section of the Specialist website.
- Clearly matches the expertise of a Named Request’s discipline and specializations as indicated on his/her curriculum vitae for this program.
The proposed specialist (if it is a Named Request):
- Has successfully applied for and been accepted onto the Fulbright Specialist Roster.
- Is currently residing in the United States and will return to the United States upon completion of the grant.
- Is eligible to receive a Specialist grant for the proposed start date, (according to current J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board policies).