Visiting Scholars

The visiting scholar title and appointment is reserved for senior scholars (more than five years beyond the doctoral degree) who currently hold full-time academic appointments at other universities or institutions of higher learning.

A visiting scholar is considered an independent researcher and may not register for and take classes for credit. For information on how to audit classes (not for credit) at HDS, please consult the instructions on auditing.

All one-term appointments run from August 1 to December 31 or from January 1 to May 31 (with a minimum stay of at least three months). All full-year appointments begin August 1 and end May 31 of any given academic year. Extension of an appointment beyond 10 months is not allowed.

The deadline for visiting scholar applications is January 31 of each year for appointments commencing the following academic year. Scholars will be informed in early March about their acceptance and will receive an appointment letter.

This is an unpaid appointment.

How to apply

An application must contain the following:

  1. Current curriculum vitae;
  2. Description of research project;
  3. A signed statement or email message from a permanent member of the HDS faculty indicating his or her willingness to serve as a host while the candidate is at HDS; and
  4. For those seeking J-1 Visitor Visas, a Certification of English Language Proficiency (PDF) to be completed by the sponsoring member of the HDS faculty (see Note for Faculty Sponsors: Certification of English Language Proficiency below).
  5. A completed Visiting Scholar/Postdoctoral Fellow Form Unsalaried Appointment (PDF).

Please also note that a visiting scholar appointment does not carry any financial support. This is an unpaid appointment. No assistance is available for housing, insurance, moving expenses, visa fees, research funding, office space, copying, clerical support, etc.

The appointment entitles the visiting scholar to a Harvard University ID card (which allows access to the Harvard University Libraries) for the duration of the appointment. Visiting scholars are cordially invited to attend all HDS community and public events. However, HDS is unable to offer courtesy library cards, or appointments, for any additional members of a scholar's family.

For further questions, and/or inquiries, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs.

English language proficiency

Note for Faculty Sponsors: Certification of English Language Proficiency

Harvard Divinity School faculty members who are considering sponsoring a visiting scholar who will require a J-1 Visitor Visa should note that they will be required to confirm that the prospective visiting scholar’s English language skills are sufficient to function on a day-to-day basis in the environment that is required to complete their program, based on the following criteria:

  • Recognized English Language Test (i.e. TOEFL, IELTS);
  • Document from an academic institution or English language school;
  • In-person interview (conversation);
  • Videoconferencing/Skype;
  • Telephone Interview (if in-person or videoconferencing is not possible);
  • Transfer/Repeat Visitor (English language proficiency established in previous J-1 stay); and
  • Other criteria, to be described by the sponsoring faculty member.

Visiting Scholars 2021–22

Susan Farist Butler

Susan Farist Butler, Co-Principal Investigator at the Laboratory for Probabilistic Reasoning Psychology Department at Tufts University, advocates for climate stability, from adopting early innovation to engaging community in changing our ways. Her academic work in experimental psychology of judgment and decision-making and her work as a nurse clinical specialist inform her advocacy and her work for the environment. Her projects for the 2021–22 academic year are:

  • Explore Climate and Morality in readings of contemporary and historical theology and thought.
  • Continue evaluation of the risks and ethics of climate stabilization methodologies.
  • Write short climate essays addressing the challenges presented by the climate disequilibrium, and the morality inherent in the choices we face.
  • Continue research on Rev. John Bishop (Balliol College Oxford, AB 1632, AM 1635) including his work as Minister, Stamford CT, 1644-1694 and his sermons preserved at Beinecke Rare Books Library, Yale. Consider and write on the current state of the earth in light of his work and his vision.

Paul Conn

Paul Conn’s research project for the 2021–22 academic year is titled “Breaking Away: Political and Spiritual Desatellization in Evangelical College Students.” Drawing on his academic background in developmental psychology, and his professional life as president of a faith-based college, Conn will be looking at the ways in which students from evangelical families do, or do not, establish patterns of faith different from those of their families, and the influences which push them into new social and political orbits.

Melanie Peetz

Melanie Peetz is professor for Biblical Studies and the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, at Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology (Einleitung in die Heilige Schrift und Exegese des Alten Testaments: Sankt Georgen ( She studied Theology and Jewish Studies in Frankfurt, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Eichstätt and Mainz. In her academic work, she focuses especially on emotions in the Bible and on female characters in biblical literature as well as on the history of Ancient Israel and of the Second Temple Period. Currently, she is co-authoring an intersectional feminist commentary on the book of Exodus for the Wisdom Commentary series.

Her project for the fall 2021 semester is “The Book of Exodus. An Intersectional Feminist Commentary.”