Visiting Scholars | Policies

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Visiting Scholars

Policy regarding Visiting Scholars

Owner: Provost

Tags: APVisiting Scholars


Visiting Scholars Program

Teachers College (“the College” or “TC”) benefits from the presence of many visitors who contribute to the intellectual life of the College. Although these individuals do not hold academic appointments at the TC, they are welcomed to visit the College for a period of no less than one month, but no longer than one year to collaborate with a specific TC faculty member or the director of a center/institute on scholarly research, as well as participate in a wide range of College activities. To accommodate the needs of these individuals and recognize their contributions to the College’s intellectual life, the Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Global Affairs confers visiting scholar status in accordance with the policy and process described below.

The Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) oversees the Visiting Scholars program, providing administrative and programmatic support to scholars and host departments during the approved visit dates.


Individuals may be designated visiting scholars for no less than one month and for no longer than one year and must be in residence for the approved period of designation. For the purpose of this policy, “in residence” refers to a commuting radius within 150 miles of TC. Visiting scholar status is generally reserved for individuals who hold a doctorate or other terminal degree and fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Scholars from a regionally accredited institution of higher education in the U.S. or its equivalent in another country who are on leave from said institutions
  • Current and former officials of governments or NGOs, such as the United Nations, and their affiliates
  • Practicing professionals, creative artists and recognized experts in the field
  • Other persons whom the Vice Provost determines will contribute to intellectual life at TC


Please be aware that the following are ineligible for visiting scholar status:

  • F-1 or J-1 degree candidates at the College or any Columbia University (CU) affiliates
  • Current doctoral students and candidates at a regionally accredited institution within the U.S., or its equivalent from a non-U.S. country*
  • A visitor who is being invited to offer temporary services such as a short term lecture or teaching.
  • TC employees

*Doctoral students or candidates interested in visiting the College should consider applying to the Visiting Doctoral Students program.

Status & Privileges

A designation of “visiting scholar” comes with the following privileges, subject to the discretion of the Vice Provost:

  • TC ID card and University Network ID (UNI)1
    • Grants access to TC facilities and electronic resources, including an official College g-mail account
  • Access to TC and CU libraries with some restrictions during periods of examination and/or special events
  • Ability to audit classes with the instructor’s permission2
  • Ability to attend open lectures and programs
  • Participation in TC scholarly activities, along with their planned scholarly activities

1 Visiting scholars can anticipate termination of their UNI and TC g-mail at the end of the academic term that the visit end date falls within.

2 Visiting scholars interested in enrolling in TC courses for credit must formally apply to the College as non-degree students and are responsible for all applicable course fees.

“Visiting scholar” is a courtesy designation and does not signify a formal association with the College. Individuals may not claim a College affiliation for the purpose of applying for grants and contracts and should not represent themselves in their publications and correspondence as having a College affiliation. Beyond the application, neither OISS nor the College maintain official records of a scholar’s stay and thus are unable to provide a statement of activities. Scholars in need of such a statement should communicate with the faculty host and/or host department.

Application and Renewal Fee

Approved applicants must submit one of two nonrefundable administrative fees:

AY22 - 23 (September 1, 2022 - August 31, 2023)

  • Initial application fee: $400
  • Renewal fee: $100

AY23 - 24 (September 1, 2023 - August 31, 2024)

  • Initial application fee: $500
  • Renewal fee: $200

Applicants can submit payment via TC Cashnet, which accepts only credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Masterpass). Note that any fees paid by the College on behalf of the scholar will be treated as income for the scholar and must be in compliance with immigration policies.

Faculty Host

Visiting scholars must be recommended by a faculty host.

Please note that hosts must be:

  • A full-time member of the College’s instructional staff3; or a management-level academic administrative staff (e.g. lab/institute/center director) with shared academic disciplines.
  • In residence at the College (and not away on sabbatical leave) during the approved visit period.

3A full-time faculty on contract can only act as a visiting scholar host provided that the visit dates in question fall within the host’s employment contract period at the College.

Host faculty are responsible for acting as their respective scholar’s primary point of contact. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Supporting department- or program-level administrators with completing the online visiting scholar application in TC Compass;
  • Facilitating meetings between the scholar and members of the College community; and
  • Providing adequate workspace, if available, with the understanding that workspace is not guaranteed.

Identifying a Faculty Host

It is the responsibility of prospective applicants to identify and confirm a TC host. We encourage interested parties to visit TC department/center websites or the faculty profile pages to learn more about TC faculty, their academic disciplines and current projects. Prospective applicants are welcome to reach out to those whose research interests best align with their own to discuss a possible visit.

Application Process

After confirming a faculty host, applicants must work with the hosting academic department to complete the application process. A designated staff (DS) from the host department must initiate the official visiting scholar application via TC-Compass. The DS will also act as the scholar’s main administrative point of contact during the visit; and along with the faculty host, is responsible for helping the scholar become acclimated to the TC campus.

How to Apply

  1. The DS initiates the application process in TC-Compass.
  2. The applicant receives an email with TC-Compass login credentials and must complete the:      a. Online visiting scholar application                                                                                                              b. J-1 DS-2019 Request form (only if applying for visa sponsorship)
  3. If the application is approved, the applicant will receive notification via email with instructions on how to submit relevant fees (administrative or renewal) via credit card via TC-Cashnet.
  4. Once the fees are received, the OISS will send a formal letter of invitation to the scholar and the host via email.
  5. The applicant submits the Form DS-2019 (only if applying for visa sponsorship).

When completing the application in TC-Compass, applicants should be ready to upload the following additional documents:

  • Resume/CV
  • Research plan
  • Passport
  • Financial documents (only if applying for visa sponsorship)
  • English Language Proficiency (ELP) documents (only if applying for visa sponsorship)

Processing Times

OISS recommends that departments begin the application process at least 3 months in advance of the visit start date to allow ample time for review. Prospective scholars should allow approximately 14 business days -- provided no additional information is required -- for a complete review of an application submitted in its entirety; and that applications are processed in the order in which they are received. OISS recommends that departments begin the application at least 3 months in advance of the visit start date to allow ample time for review.

Visa Sponsorship

The U.S. Department of State authorizes the College to sponsor foreign nationals for the J-1 Exchange Visitor program for the purpose of engaging in research, scholarly collaboration and to promote global exchange. Upon receipt of all required documents, OISS will issue a form DS-2019 to support the J-1 visa application for an approved visiting scholar.

Financial Arrangements

Scholars are responsible for their own financial accommodations and living arrangements during their stay. The College does not financially compensate visiting scholars, nor are scholars eligible for College or CU benefits (including health insurance). Scholars may not be compensated from a College account, given a fellowship or be reimbursed for expenses without prior approval of the Vice Provost. If granted authorization and provided that it does not violate the scholar’s immigration status, a scholar may receive a honoraria for participating in a conference or giving an occasional lecture, in accordance with the College’s policy on procurement. Even so, it is the scholar’s responsibility to communicate with OISS prior to engaging in an activity in order to verify if they are eligible to be compensated for activities that are related and part of their program.

Responsible Office(s): Office of International Students & Scholars

Last updated: March 2023


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