Join the Fulbright Specialist Program

Prospective Specialists and host institutions participate in a competitive selection and matching process. To learn more about how Fulbright Specialist projects are developed and administered, please see below.

A graphic illustrating the Fulbright Specialist Program process. A full overview of the process is included in text below

A graphic illustrating the Fulbright Specialist Program process. A full overview of the process is included in text below

Step One: Host Institution Develops Project Proposal and Seeks Approval

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. Once a host institution has developed their initial project design, they submit a project proposal to the Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy in their country through an online portal. The Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy in each country determines the general process for reviewing proposals and establishes its own selection criteria based upon country-specific priorities and goals for the program. Please note that it is very common for Fulbright Commissions/U.S. Embassies to receive more project proposals from prospective host institutions than they are able to support with limited funding. Therefore, not all proposals submitted will be approved.

If a Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy approves a 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.

Step Two: Interested Individuals Apply to Join the Fulbright Specialist Roster

All prospective Fulbright Specialists complete a robust application process prior to being eligible to serve on a host institution’s project abroad. That process begins with completing the Fulbright Specialist application. For more detailed information on the full application process, see Online Application Instructions for Specialists.

If an applicant meets all basic eligibility requirements, their application is then reviewed by a peer review panel. If the panel approves the applicant, they are placed on the Fulbright Specialist Roster for a three-year tenure as a Fulbright Specialist Candidate, during which time they are eligible to be matched with host institution projects abroad. Please note that there is no guarantee that the individual will be matched with a project during their tenure. If an applicant is deemed ineligible during the application review process or is not approved by the peer review panel, they can reapply for consideration. For more detailed information on the peer review process including deadlines and evaluation criteria, please see the Specialist Application Process.

Step Three: Eligible Individuals on the Fulbright Specialist Roster Matched to Host Institution 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.”

Open Projects: A project is designated as open if the host institution does not name a specific individual to serve as the Specialist. After an open project is approved, it is made visible to all individuals on the Fulbright Specialist Roster through an online portal. Individuals on the Roster can then express interest in serving as the Specialist for the project. Next, World Learning provides the participating Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy with a list of qualified individuals who have expressed interest in the project. Ultimately, the host institution reviews and selects from the interested candidates.

Named Projects: A project is designated as named if the host institution identifies the 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. If the host institution identifies an individual who is not on the Roster, that individual must first complete the full application process and be approved to join the Roster before they can be formally matched to the project. Please note that a project proposal from a host institution can be reviewed concurrently by the respective Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy and ECA, while the individual named in the host institution application completes the full application process.

If a host institution’s project is ultimately approved by all parties and an individual is approved to join the Fulbright Specialist Roster, then the individual and the project may be matched. Please note that the host institution must provide a strong justification of why that individual is best suited to serve in the role of the Fulbright Specialist. Ultimately, the Fulbright Commission/U.S. Embassy must approve of the Specialist and project match.

Step Four: Final Approval by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

The final step is for the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) to approve the individual who is matched to the host institution's specific project. Only following this step are the project and proposed Fulbright Specialist fully approved.

Step Five: Fulbright Specialist Implements Project Abroad with Host Institution

After an individual receives final approval from the FFSB to serve as the Fulbright Specialist for a host institution’s project abroad, World Learning will provide all pre-program support and will monitor the completion of the Fulbright Specialist project.