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 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.

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.

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 2020–21

Paul Conn

Project title: “Breaking Away: Political and Spiritual Desatellization in Evangelical College Students”.

Drawing on my academic background in developmental psychology, and my professional life as president of a faith-based college, I 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.