ILAS Visiting Scholars

Each year, the Institute of Latin American Studies selects distinguished full-time academics to visit Columbia to work on their own research and writing projects. Visiting scholars are selected through a competitive process on the basis of professional qualifications, the quality of research plans, and the relevance of both to the institute’s mission and objectives.

Past visiting scholars have included faculty members at institutions abroad, Fulbright scholars, and students pursuing doctoral and post-doctoral research. They have enjoyed access to our library facilities, attendance at University events, including those related to Latin America, and in general partaking in the life of the University community.

About the Program

"Visiting scholar" is a courtesy designation that does not signify a formal association with the University. Individuals named to these titles may not claim a University affiliation for the purpose of applying for grants and contracts and should not represent themselves in their publications and correspondence as having a University affiliation. Visiting scholars receive a Columbia University identification card, but they are not given office space and are not entitled to secretarial assistance.

Visiting scholars are responsible for arranging for their own financial support and benefits. In addition, ILAS is unable to assist visiting scholars in obtaining housing in the Columbia-New York area.

Restrictions and Fees

  • ILAS will charge a one-time administration fee of $300 for all accepted visiting scholars, who are normally allowed to stay a maximum of one year
  • Applicants for visiting scholar status must hold an earned doctorate or be currently working on their doctorate thesis
  • Visiting scholars receive free reading and borrowing privileges from Columbia University Libraries
  • Visiting scholars are not allowed to participate in collaborative research with University officers of instruction or officers of research
  • Visiting scholars are not allowed to take courses for credit, except for English language training
  • Visiting scholars are welcome to participate in all events organized and sponsored by the Institute for Latin American Studies and its affiliated Centers


In order to come to the United States as visiting scholars, foreign applicants will need a J-1 visa. Columbia is able to provide visiting scholars with a DS2019 form, a document that is to be presented to U.S. Consulate authorities when submitting an application for a J-1 visa. If the visiting scholar application is accepted, Columbia will ask that the scholar to pay an additional $500 to the International Students and Scholars Office to cover the cost of issuing a DS2019 form. In addition, Columbia requires specific documentation showing that visiting scholars are able to support themselves financially while in the U.S.; for example, a letter stating that visiting scholars will have the necessary funds (US$3,000 or more per month) to sustain their living expenses while in the U.S. If visiting scholars have a grant or scholarship from their sponsoring university, organization, or government, a letter from either of these institutions will suffice. If visiting scholars are to come to Columbia on their personal funds, a letter from their bank is necessary. All documentation must be submitted in English after the scholar application has been accepted by the ILAS review committee.

How to Apply

The Institute of Latin American Studies Executive Committee reviews proposals on a rolling basis through a highly selective and competitive process. Decisions are made on a rolling basis during the academic year. In addition to completing the application below, candidates are required to submit the following (all materials must be submitted in English):

  • Letters of reference: Provide two letters of reference
  • Letter of endorsement: Request from a Columbia faculty member a one-paragraph endorsement of their application
  • CV: Provide a CV
  • Proposal: Submit a proposal explaining in detail their reason of interest in becoming a scholar at Columbia and the line of research they hope to follow while associated with the University. Proposals should state how the proposed research benefits from Columbia's unique resources (such as libraries, faculty, and initiatives). The university requires that proposals include the following (for additional details please click here):
    • (1) a full description (or the original proposal) of the project on which they are currently working;
    • (2) a description of the research done to date
    • (3) a detailed explanation of why they want to come to Columbia, specifically addressing
      • The research they expect to accomplish while here
      • The specific materials/equipment they want to access at Columbia, and/or particular faculty or officers of research they want to interview or with whom they want to discuss their project in detail because of their expertise on the topic (information from such interviews or discussions would be incorporated into the project and would be distinct from the “chats” the visiting scholar/scientist had with their sponsor during their stay; and
      • The faculty member or officer of research whom they want as their sponsor and why this person would be most helpful to their project.

***Open only to individuals with a current academic affiliation***

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