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.

Specialists, who represent a wide range of professional and academic disciplines, are competitively selected to join the Fulbright Specialist Roster based on their knowledge, skill sets, and ability to make a significant contribution to projects overseas. Those individuals that have been approved to join the Fulbright Specialist Roster are then eligible to be matched with approved projects designed by foreign host institutions from over 150 countries and other areas. Once abroad, Specialists partner with their host institution to conduct project activities in support of the host institution’s priorities and goals.  

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:

  • Delivering a seminar or workshop
  • Consulting on faculty or workforce development
  • Developing academic or training curricula and materials
  • Lecturing at the graduate or undergraduate level
  • Conducting needs assessments or evaluations for a program or institution

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. 

Benefits for Host Institutions

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.

If you are a prospective host institution looking for information about the English Language Specialist program, please visit https://elprograms.org/specialist/.

Benefits for Specialists

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:

  • Round-trip, economy class airfare between the U.S. and host country
  • Transit allowance
  • All applicable visa fees
  • Daily honorarium
  • Enrollment in a limited health benefits program
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • In-country transportation

Upon returning to the U.S., program participants are able to contribute their newly gained knowledge and intercultural competencies to their home institution or organization. Program participants will also become part of a network of thousands of accomplished Fulbright alumni, opening the door to additional grant possibilities, enhanced career development, and alumni networking and leadership opportunities.