Columbia University in the City of New York

Visiting Scholars Program

The Visiting Scholar Program at the Harriman Institute offers doctoral candidates, faculty members, and scholars whose research focuses on Russia, Eurasia, and East-Central Europe the opportunity to take advantage of Columbia’s resources to further their research and scholarship. A visiting appointment is a non-stipendiary position lasting a period of between one month and one year, with an option to extend for up to one additional year. Visiting scholars receive Columbia University library access and borrowing privileges, a temporary Columbia University ID card, and an email address.

What You Need To Know

The Visiting Scholar designation is a courtesy designation that Columbia University offers to those who want to use University resources for their own purposes. The Visiting Scholar designation does not signify a formal affiliation with the University, and therefore, one should not represent themselves as having an affiliation with Columbia on their CVs, bios, etc. Additionally, if one needs a visa to enter the U.S. the purpose of the visit needs to match the visa status: visiting scholars should be in J status (unless they have another visa status other than a tourist visa) that best represents their primary purpose for being in the U.S. Columbia will sponsor J-1 visas for visiting scholars. Please also refer to the ISSO website for any questions.

The title of Visiting Scholar is generally reserved for persons in one of five categories: (1) Members of academic institutions (including graduate students). If the person is from the New York metropolitan area, he or she must be on leave from their home institution; (2) officials and former officials of government or non-government organizations, such as the United Nations, and their affiliates; (3) members of research laboratories or institutions; (4) practicing professionals and creative artists; (5) such other persons who will contribute to the intellectual activity of the University, as approved by the Office of the Associate Provost on the request of the school or department. Individuals may be named Visiting Scholars for up to one year. Renewals for a second year are granted only in exceptional cases.

An individual who wishes to be a Visiting Scholar must be recommended by a faculty member in whose academic discipline the scholar has an interest. The faculty host must be in residence during the visiting scholar’s approved period of stay and is responsible for facilitating mutually beneficial interactions between the Visiting Scholar, faculty colleagues, and students. Visiting Scholars are encouraged to attend scholarly presentations at the Institute.


How to Apply

Application Requirements

To apply, interested scholars should compile the following items and e-mail them to Katrina Papouskaya at no fewer than four months before the anticipated start date:


  • Proof of sponsorship by an Institute faculty member. In order to be considered for Visiting Scholar status, applicants must be recommended by an Institute faculty member, who must be in residence during the Visiting Scholar’s approved period of stay and is responsible for facilitating mutually beneficial interactions between the Visiting Scholar, faculty colleagues, and students. It is the responsibility of the applicant to locate a faculty sponsor.

    Find a Faculty Sponsor >

  • Cover letter, approximately one page in length, stating the purpose of research and desired dates of stay (not to exceed one year) in the United States. The statement of research should clearly indicate how research at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute is critical to the outcome of the applicant’s proposal.
  • A proposal that includes a full description of the research project to be pursued at Columbia, including a description of research done to date. Please address, in detail, the specific materials you will want to access at Columbia and/or particular faculty or officers of research you wish to interview or with whom you want to discuss your project because of their expertise on the topic. (Information from such interviews or discussions would be incorporated into the final project and would be distinct from conversations with a faculty sponsor.)

    Learn more about proposal requirements >

  • Curriculum vitae

Other requirements

Visa Sponsorship

International scholars should obtain a J visa for the Visiting Scholar Program, as the purpose of the visit needs to match the visa status. Tourist visas are not accepted for one visiting for research purposes.

Federal regulations require that the applicant for J-1 status meets the health insurance requirements of the Exchange Visitor Program while in the United States and that the applicant has sufficient funds for the period of stay at Columbia. The current minimum funding requirement is $3000 per month.

If applying for a J-1 visa, the scholar must submit additional documentation required for the university to issue the DS-2019 form to support the J-1 application. The Harriman Institute will provide the applicant with information about these required materials. Scholars are responsible for covering a university-mandated $500 fee to the ISSO, which is charged when the university prepares the scholar’s DS-2019 form, creates the designation, and prepares the email account for the scholar. This fee does not include visa fees charged by the US government.

Frequently Asked Questions >

Language Proficiency

Scholars must demonstrate high English language speaking and writing proficiency in order for their application to be accepted. Those seeking the J-1 visa will need to provide sufficient proof of English language skills.
We encourage all scholars to review the University’s policy and program handbook.

Office Space

Due to the tight constraint on office space, no office space is provided to scholars, who often work out of the university libraries.

Library Privileges

Columbia University Visiting Scholars are automatically provided with borrowing privileges after they get their ID cards at the ID Center.

Using the libraries during COVID-19 >


Scholars are not eligible to receive university housing, as the housing resources allocated to the Harriman Institute are limited, and there is often an insufficient supply for full-time students. The Harriman Institute can provide some general resources for finding accommodations in the New York area, but visiting scholars are responsible for securing their own housing.

Questions about becoming a Visiting Scholar?

For further information, please send us an email below or call Katrina Papouskaya at 212-854-6219.