Visiting Scholars (FAQ)

A visiting scholar does not hold a regular appointment at Syracuse University but is a scholar, artist or critic who is “on campus” for periods of time longer than what would be associated with a guest lecture or participation in a workshop or symposium. “On campus,” in this context, is anywhere research or creative work is conducted by Syracuse University faculty whenever students are also present or anywhere Syracuse University’s educational program is delivered. Syracuse University agrees to provide visiting scholars with access to certain resources to conduct research, engage in creative activity or otherwise pursue their independent scholarly goals.

While pursuing their work, visiting scholars interact with faculty and other members of the scholarly community in a mutually beneficial exchange. They may lecture on topics of interest to them and participate in mentoring of graduate students and others, under the supervision and guidance of Syracuse University personnel. Visiting scholars do not teach courses in the formal curriculum and are not tasked with duties requiring unsupervised contact with students.

Advanced graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and scholars, and faculty at other universities may be invited to serve as visiting scholars. A visiting scholar can also be “unaffiliated,” in the sense of not having a formal connection to another university. This category is often associated with visiting artists and critics. (See also: Whom do I contact when I want to sponsor a visiting scholar?)

A visiting scholar’s appointment is typically more than 3three weeks and no longer than one year, with the possibility of renewal under some limited circumstances. Scholars visiting for less than three weeks in any 12-month period are likely guest lecturers or symposium speakers or participants. Depending on the nature of the activity for those shorter-term visitors, an engagement letter that fully specifies their rights and responsibilities for any extended stay may be beneficial. Contact the Office of Faculty Affairs ( for recommended templates.

Visiting scholars do not receive a regular salary from the University and are not eligible for University benefits. Some visiting scholars receive honoraria or other payments for non-employee services funded by sponsored awards or grants.

The title visiting professor, or any other regular faculty title modified by “visiting,” indicates a paid, albeit temporary, position.

Visiting scholars can be invited by any member of the faculty or by department, school or college administrators, and final approval for their appointment must be sought through the department chair/school director (where relevant); dean or center/institute director; and a responsible administrative office: the Office of Faculty Affairs, the Graduate School or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. (See: Whom do I contact when I want to sponsor a visiting scholar?)

Those appointed “by courtesy” are typically individuals who have faculty standing at another university and who do not intend to visit campus, except perhaps for brief periods (e.g., less than three weeks). Under most circumstances, the decision to grant an individual permission to use the title “by courtesy” is made by a vote of the faculty in a department or school and approved by the dean. If a person appointed “by courtesy” will be on campus for more than three weeks, please request a visiting scholar appointment.

A visiting scholar can be a U.S. citizen (or permanent resident) or a foreign national. A formal letter offering the position or offering to host from a department chair/school director, dean or center/institute director on behalf of a faculty member who serves as host is required in all cases.

International visiting scholars will require a letter of appointment and, in most cases, additional documents to receive a visa. Finally, certain appointments for non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents may require securing an immigration status that allows the visiting scholar to begin their appointment.

In circumstances where a visa is required, visiting scholars will not be able to begin their appointment until proof of visa status has been obtained and reviewed by the University’s Center for International Services. Please note that visa wait times vary widely; allow sufficient time for the visa to be secured when determining the start date of the appointment.

All visiting scholars must be appointed through a process overseen by the Office of Faculty Affairs, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs or the Graduate School, depending on the specific characteristics of the visiting scholar.

The home school/college or research center/institute is expected to provide supervision of a visiting scholar housed in one of its academic units or to delegate such supervisory responsibility to a chair, director or faculty member with shared interests. The hosting unit must also be aware of the arrival and departure dates of a visiting scholar.

Although this list is not exhaustive, background checks will be required for all visiting scholars who do one or more of the following:

  • Have direct contact with students that is unsupervised by a full-time Syracuse University faculty member, whether in the classroom, lab, studio or other on-campus or off-campus sites for fieldwork, performances and other events.
  • Use “Syracuse University” in publications, performances, shows or other venues in which a visiting scholar presents their work.
  • Plan to be on campus for longer than three weeks.
  • Participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) at another university but indicate Syracuse University as a collaborator site.
  • Are provided with independent, unsupervised access to campus computing resources.

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs ( will be responsible for requesting background checks for advanced graduate students or postdoctoral researchers or scholars. For all others, including those not affiliated with another university, contact the Office of Faculty Affairs ( The responsible office will notify the faculty host once the background check is completed so that the visiting scholar can begin their stay.

Please note that, on average, domestic background checks can take up to 10 business days and international background checks can take up to 25 business days but may be longer, depending on the origin country. Please plan accordingly to leave sufficient lead time for background check completion.

A visiting scholar must complete any relevant training required of faculty on campus, based on the nature of their contact with students, data, research spaces or computing resources. Such training might include lab safety, sexual harassment prevention training and/or data security training, among others. The dean of the school/college (or director of the center/institute) hosting the visiting scholar will determine the relevant training in conversation with the Office of Faculty Affairs, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs or the Graduate School, depending on the standing of the visiting scholar.

Where health and safety directives dictate, visiting scholars may be required to submit documentation to demonstrate compliance with those directives.

Visiting scholars here in an immigration status will need to also check in with the Center for International Services so that immigration records can be updated to report their arrival on campus.

From 2020 through late 2022, the Office of Research was responsible for ensuring that all visiting scholars had proof of vaccination for COVID-19 on file. As proof of current vaccination is not currently required by University health protocols and directives, the form and approval process have been decommissioned. If campus health protocols and directives related to health and safety change, please contact for more information.

Visiting scholars are hosted by departments, schools/colleges or research centers/institutes. Beyond the expectations laid out in a visiting scholar’s appointment letter, a hosting unit is expected to provide relevant onboarding and introductions to faculty and staff with shared research interests, as well as opportunities for the visiting scholar to share their research interests and findings with interested audiences on campus.

With additional status as a sponsored affiliate or sponsored associate (see SU Guest-Active), a visiting scholar may access facilities at the Barnes Center, purchase a parking permit, and have borrowing privileges through the Libraries. They will be provided with a NetID and can, therefore, also access many computing resources.

If a visiting scholar has instructional responsibilities beyond infrequent guest lecturing, they require a formal faculty appointment and appropriate compensation.

Visiting scholars can enroll in part-time study through Syracuse University Global or any other program that accepts non-matriculated, part-time students. Visiting scholars are not eligible for any tuition remission or dependent tuition benefits and are responsible for all fees associated with their enrollments.

The appropriate, responsible office for facilitating the standing of a visiting scholar depends on the scholar’s status outside Syracuse University. For scholars who are advanced graduate students, contact the Graduate School ( to secure approval for the invitation/appointment letter. For those who are postdoctoral researchers or scholars, contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs ( For all others, including those unaffiliated with a university, contact the Office of Faculty Affairs (

For international visiting scholars, you must also work with the Center for International Services to ensure that all immigration requirements have been met.

About visiting scholars who are faculty, critics or artists? Contact the Office of Faculty Affairs.

About visiting scholars who are postdoctoral researchers or postdoctoral scholars? Contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

About visiting scholars who are graduate students? Contact the Graduate School at