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Information about Visiting Student Researcher, Visiting Scholar or Post Doc appointments

This page outlines the differences between Visiting Student Researchers, Visiting Scholars, and Postdoctoral Scholars, as well as the policies and application processes associated with each of these categories.

A Stanford postdoctoral fellow is a trainee in residence at Stanford University pursuing advanced studies beyond the doctoral level in preparation for an independent career. Postdoctoral Scholars are appointed for a limited period of time (minimum stay of 9 months) and may participate on Stanford research projects and/or may be supported by external awards or fellowships. Sponsoring faculty must be active members of the Stanford Academic Council. Prior to beginning the postdoc appointment process, the prospective postdoc must have their diploma in hand or a letter from their university's registrar (not the department) clearly stating that ALL degree requirements have been completed. Sponsoring faculty are responsible to ensure that minimum Stanford funding package for postdoctoral fellows (including salary/stipend and benefits) is met by a Stanford fund or an external award/fellowship.

Helpful Links

Funding Options

  1. (Preferred method) The funding is directed to the GSE as a sponsored project, with a principal investigator (PI) identified, and provides a budget that includes all expenses (salary/stipend, full benefits, postdoctoral registration fee and indirect costs).  Please be advised that the cost of benefits can be upwards of 30% of salary/stipend and may depend on the level of coverage.
  2. In the event that the external source of the funding will only pay the postdoctoral fellow directly, then the funding letter must state the amount of salary/stipend and specify funds that will be used by the postdoctoral fellow to cover full benefits and any other related fees required by Stanford University.  Please be advised that the cost of benefits can be upwards of 30% of salary/stipend and may depend on the level of coverage.  In cases where the postdoctoral fellow will be paying for his/her benefits, the arrangement must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs prior to the appointment.

Benefits Given to Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Official affiliation with Stanford University (Stanford ID, $20 fee to be paid at ID card office)
  • Stanford computer account
  • Library privileges
  • Medical plan through Blue Shield of CA
  • Dental and vision coverage
  • Leave benefits
  • Use of recreational facilities
  • Graduate student housing, only if available after matriculated students are housed
  • Access to off-campus housing information
  • Audit university courses without fee, subject to permission of the instructor
  • If a Postdoctoral Scholar wishes to take courses for credit, the Scholar is responsible for tuition and additional fees.
  • Campus parking privileges for a fee (arranged through Parking & Transportation Services)

More Information

In all cases, postdoctoral appointments at Stanford are for the purpose of advanced studies and training under the sponsorship of a Stanford faculty member. Individuals interested in postdoctoral study should make their inquiries directly to the faculty with whom there are overlapping research interests. Faculty members are expected to respond to all correspondence regarding possible postdoctoral status, to determine whether the area of interest is appropriate for study at Stanford, and whether there is sufficient office/laboratory space and other resources needed to support the Scholar. Please note that the standard visa for a GSE postdoc is a J-1. Requests for other types of visas will be considered on a case-by-case basis only. If you would like to hire a postdoctoral fellow, please contact Kate McKinney three months in advance of the anticipated start date in order to begin the application process. No appointment is finalized until approved by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. More information for faculty can be found here, and more information for postdocs can be found here. See also the Postdoctoral Scholars website for more information, including minimum salary and funding requirements, appointment terms, etc.

A Visiting Scholar is a scholar established in his or her field (must hold a Ph.D. or be considered a field expert) who visits Stanford from an outside institution or organization and is funded by external or personal sources (cannot be funded by Stanford).

Visiting Scholars are not employees or students of the University, and therefore are not entitled to Stanford compensation or other benefits available to regular staff, faculty or students (including health insurance).

The benefits given to visiting scholars are as follows:

  • Official affiliation with Stanford University (Stanford ID) issued to Visiting Scholars who are in residence for a minimum of one quarter. ($25 fee to be paid at the ID card office)
  • Stanford computer account
  • Library privileges
  • Use of recreational facilities
  • Graduate student housing, only if available after matriculated students are housed
  • Access to off-campus housing information
  • Audit university courses without fee, subject to permission of the instructor
  • Campus parking privileges for a fee (arranged through Parking & Transportation Services)
  • Possibility of Stanford GSE shared student space, as available**

(**Stanford GSE has two designated office space that houses seven visiting student researchers or visiting scholars. Availability for this space will depend on the start and end dates of the Visitor, and will need to be requested in advance when the application process begins. If this office is at full capacity, faculty should arrange for space in their research rooms or let the Visitor know that space is not available.)

Visiting Scholars must be recommended by a faculty member in the School for a fixed-term designation of Visiting Scholar. Faculty will recommend the appointment for approval by the Area Committee and the Deans. A limited number of appointments are available each year. Interested scholars should contact specific faculty directly regarding the possibility of such an appointment, and faculty can work with the Academic Services Coordinator to begin the appointment process. See also the Research Policy Handbook regarding visiting scholar appointments: http://rph.stanford.edu/9-6.html.

Other off-campus housing resources for Visiting Scholars

In limited instances, it is to the benefit of Stanford faculty to permit persons who have not yet obtained a Ph.D. (or its foreign equivalent) to engage in research on the Stanford campus using Stanford research facilities. Such instances might include students at other universities who are engaged in graduate-level research in a field of interest to the faculty member, a person doing a laboratory rotation as part of a larger research study or grant, or employees of companies who are conducting research which requires specialized equipment available only at Stanford. Invitations can be extended for up to four quarters. In order to be a Visiting Researcher at Stanford GSE, one must be invited by a Stanford GSE faculty member by an official invitation letter that includes the amount of time for which the visitor will be conducting research (no appointments are finalized until approved by the Office of Registrar and confirmed by Academic Services).

Visiting Student Researchers must be registered as “Non-Matriculated Graduate Students.” They are charged a registration fee of $957/month (for the 2014-15 Academic Year).  There is no prorating of the fee, so corresponding the start and end dates of the appointment with the quarter start and end dates is important.

In addition, international students must show proof that they will have a quarterly estimated living expense of $2500/month while here on campus (this can be a fellowship, personal savings, etc.). All visiting researchers must show proof of health insurance or buy Cardinal Care through Stanford while they are appointed. Cardinal Care costs for the 2014-15 academic year are $4296.  Students must also pay the monthly campus health fee of $191.

International visiting student researchers will need to have their visa paid for by the faculty sponsor. Stanford charges a $125 fee for preparation of the initial and transfer DS-2019 documents for J-1 Visiting Scholars and family members, which the faculty member may request to be reimbursed by the Visiting Researcher upon arrival at Stanford GSE.

The benefits given to Visiting Student Researchers are as follows:

  • Official affiliation with Stanford University (Stanford ID, $20 fee to be paid at ID card office)
  • Stanford computer account
  • Library privileges
  • Access to Vaden Health Center (campus health fee applies: $185/quarter)
  • Use of recreational facilities
  • Graduate student housing, only if available after matriculated students are housed
  • Access to off-campus housing information
  • Not permitted to enroll in or audit any classes. If VSR wish to take classes at Stanford, they should contact the Office of the University Registrar and request an application for nonmatriculated graduate student enrollment status.
  • Campus parking privileges for a fee (arranged through Parking & Transportation Services)
  • Possibility of Stanford GSE shared student space, as available**

(**Stanford GSE has two designated office space that houses seven visiting student researchers or visiting scholars.  Availability for this space will depend on the start and end dates of the Visitor, and will need to be requested in advance when the application process begins. If this office is at full capacity, faculty should arrange for space in their research rooms or let the Visitor know that space is not available.)

If you are in contact with a prospective researcher that you would like to sponsor as a Visiting Researcher at Stanford GSE, please contact Susana Carranza (susanac@stanford.edu) three months in advance of the anticipated start date in order to begin the application process. The exact process for applying to be a Visiting Researcher will depend on various factors (student status, citizenship, etc.). See also the Procedures for Registering Visiting Researchers, http://rph.stanford.edu/9-7.html

Note that this category of nonmatriculating student is different from that of a Visiting Scholar, a non-student category of individuals holding a doctoral degree or recognized as an expert in their field. The Research Policy Handbook includes documents on both Visiting Student Researchers and Visiting Scholars.