Become a Visiting Scholar

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Ja Aung Lu
Visiting Scholar Ja Aung Lu spoke on Myanmar's sixty-year long civil war.

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights welcomes scholars wishing to engage in research in the area of human rights. The Visiting Scholars Program is designed to link the visiting scholars with the Columbia community by providing connections to faculty members and encouraging participation in conferences and seminars. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a strong intellectual link to the Institute as well as a clearly defined program of research and/or study while in residence. Applicants should hold a PhD, be ABD, or have professional experience in addition to an MA or comparable degree.

Check here for selected biographies of previous scholars.

Program Overview

While in residence, Visiting Scholars are expected to:

  • Participate in the intellectual life of Columbia University by attending conferences and seminars
  • Present at least one talk per semester
  • Meet with a faculty advisor regularly
  • Provide a final report detailing what was accomplished during residency (e.g., established connections, written publications, research conducted, courses audited). This report must be submitted before departure from the Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Visiting scholars are encouraged to audit courses, especially the Human Rights Colloquium, a bi-monthly graduate seminar designed for dissertations in progress.

Upon completion of the residency, Scholars are expected to provide the Institute with copies of any publications that result from their time at Columbia.

Visiting Scholars can be affiliated with the Institute for up to one year. This affiliation includes the Scholar:

  • Access to Columbia University facilities and libraries
  • Faculty advisement
  • Participation in Institute-related events

The Institute is unable to provide financial support to Visiting Scholars; all applicants must therefore secure external funding for their time at Columbia. Columbia's International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) can support visa processing for international scholars. ISSO charges $500 to issued a DS-2019, in support of a J-1 visa application.

Admission to the Program

Those eligible to be appointed as visiting scholars are faculty, researchers, and graduate students at other universities who wish to pursue academic research, coursework, and/or writing projects while in residence at Columbia University.

In selecting applicants for Visiting Scholar status, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights considers the applicant’s qualifications, the strength of her or his past, current, and proposed research projects, the thematic connections to the work of the Institute, and the ability of Columbia's faculty and library resources to meet the applicant's research needs. A working knowledge of spoken and written English is necessary. Applicants must also have the written commitment of a Columbia University faculty member that she or he will serve as an advisor during the time of the residency.

Program Application

Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

Those wishing to apply should send, preferably by email:

  • A completed application form, either the:
    • Visiting Scholar with J-1 Visa Support Application or
    • Visiting Scholar Application
  • Funding documentation ($2,800/mo for the J-1, $1000/mo for J-2 spouse, $500/mo per J-2 child under the age of 21)
  • A detailed Curriculum Vita
  • A research proposal that includes the importance of the project, relevance to the Institute’s larger mission, and the applicant’s specific objectives while in residency at Columbia
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Written commitment by a Columbia faculty member of agreement to serve as advisor