Visiting Scholars

The International Visiting Scholar Program welcomes academic visitors from around the world. The program is designed to give established legal scholars, as well as those just beginning their scholarly careers, access to the Law School's academic resources for the completion of a specific academic research project. Interested candidates should carefully review the program specifics and requirements before submitting an application. The Law School does not provide financial support to visiting scholars or aid visiting scholars in finding research funds.

Interested candidates should carefully consider the following materials: 

Visiting Scholars Program Requirements

Participation in the Visiting Scholars Program is awarded by committee on the basis of an application submitted by interested candidates. The committee takes into consideration your background, proposed plan of research, and dates of proposed residence, as well as the capacity of the Law School faculty and library to meet your research needs. You must be associated with an academic institution in your home country (or country of current residence) and have a specific research proposal for your proposed residence.

You are not required to have a formal faculty sponsorship, though if you have already established contacts with a Law School faculty member, you should indicate this on the application form. You are encouraged, however, to develop contacts and professional relationships with Law School faculty interested in your proposed area of research while in residence.

Application Process & Deadlines

An interested candidate should download an application form and complete and submit the application to CILE with all of the Stage One materials listed below. A candidate will be considered only after submitting a complete application. All application materials must be completed in English and should be typed. The Stage One materials consist of:

  • Completed Application Form
  • Current CV or Resume
  • 2 Letters of Reference or Recommendation
  • Brief statement of proposed research project
  • Intended dates of residence
  • Statement of expected funding

Completed Application Form: You must complete the application form in its entirety. Application forms with incomplete sections will not be considered by the committee.

Current CV or Resume: You must submit a current CV or resume detailing your educational background, academic qualifications, publications, and relevant awards or honors.

Letters of Reference or Recommendation: You must submit two letters of reference or recommendation. At least one letter must be from a faculty member or colleague who is familiar with your work and academic achievements. We ask that at least one of these writers be a person who can provide a general assessment of whether your English language skills are sufficient for your proposed research project.  (Please note that a formal English language assessment is required for visa sponsorship – see “Stage Two” below.)

Brief Statement of Proposed Research Project: You must include a statement outlining your proposed research project for the intended stay at the Law School. The proposed research project is one of the most important application items, as it gives the committee an opportunity to evaluate the compatibility of the proposed research with the Law School's strengths and the interests of its faculty. The statement should be no more than 500 words (two pages) and should include the planned use of the proposed research.

Intended Dates of Residence: You should clearly state the dates during which you intend to be in residence at the Law School. The Visiting Scholar Program requires a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of one year of residence. The standard residence period begins at the start of the academic year (August), however, you may begin your residency at any time.

Statement of Expected Funding: The Law School does not have funding to support visiting scholars. Nor does it have sufficient staff to aid you in finding outside funding. Visiting scholars are not eligible to be hired as research assistants or visiting professors. Therefore, you must show that you will have sufficient funds to support yourself while in residence at the Law School. Living expenses in Pittsburgh are estimated at $1,400 per month. You should add at least $425 per month for each dependent living with you in Pittsburgh.

Application Deadlines: Due to visa requirements, you are strongly encouraged to apply at least six months prior to your intended starting date. There are no official application deadlines, but the committee will not consider applications that arrive within sixty days of the proposed starting date.


The Law School does not provide housing to visiting scholars. Accepted scholars are strongly encouraged to contact the CILE office to work with staff to identify possible housing options. However, CILE staff will only provide assistance in identifying housing and will not obtain or reserve housing for scholars.

Stage Two

Once CILE has made a preliminary determination to accept you as a Visiting Scholar, we will submit your information to the University of Pittsburgh’s visitor processing system.  At that time, unless further information is required, a formal Visitor Participation Agreement and Letter of Invitation will be generated for you.  You must complete and sign both one copy of the Letter of Invitation and the Agreement, have the Agreement signed by an authorized person of your home institution, and return the executed Letter of Invitation and Agreement to CILE.

At this same time, unless you have taken either the TOEFL or IELTS within the past two years, you must register for and take one of (a) the TOEFL iBT, (b) the IELTS, (c) the Duolingo exam linked here [] or (d) the English3 J1 exam linked here.  The ability of the University of Pittsburgh to sponsor you for a J-1 visa is contingent upon your receipt of a satisfactory score on one of these four examinations.  The necessary score will depend in part on the length and subject of the proposed visit, but for Pitt Law Visiting Scholars must in any event must be equal to or greater than 80 on the TOEFL iBT, 6.0 on the IELTS, 50 on Duolingo, or 3.0 on English3 J1.  Both Duolingo and English3 J1 are online tests that can be taken without advance registration and are significantly less expensive than the TOEFL or IELTS.

Residence Details

Visiting scholars have access to a wealth of information at the Law School Library. Visiting Scholars may use the Library’s resources on-site during regular Library hours. 

You are strongly encouraged to engage with the faculty and student body, including the international students of the LLM and SJD classes. Scholars are invited to faculty workshops to hear presentations by Law School faculty and guests, and are occasionally asked to give a presentation to a student society or in a professor's class that touches on the scholar's research.

Applicants should be aware of the following:

  • Due to space restrictions, the Law School does not and cannot provide Visiting Scholars with office space or reserved library carrels.
  • Visiting Scholars do not have borrowing privileges at any University library, and are not provided with access to paid internet databases.
  • Except in extraordinary circumstances and with the prior permission of both the Dean of the Law School and the applicable professor, Visiting Scholars may not audit classes at the Law School or in other University units.  If you wish to take advantage of the world-class instruction available to our students, you should instead consider applying to Pitt Law’s LLM or SJD programs.
  • You are strongly encouraged to bring your own laptop, as the number of public computers in the Law Library is limited. Scholars are given full access to the Law School's wireless network while in residence.

Visa Requirements

An accepted visiting scholar will be required to apply for and obtain a United States Department of State J-1 Exchange Visitor (Scholar) visa. CILE has the necessary forms online, but you need not complete these forms until you have been notified of your acceptance into the Visiting Scholar Program. Upon your acceptance, you should complete the J-1 Exchange Visitor (Scholar) On-Line Department Request Form (DRF) Supplemental information and the J-1 Exchange Visitor Health Insurance Requirement Acknowledgment and Pledge Form. There is a $275 visa processing fee.

Under U.S. immigration regulations, you are required to maintain health insurance for the duration of your residence in the United States. The University of Pittsburgh has information for international visitors about obtaining health insurance, but does not provide health insurance and will not procure health insurance on behalf of any visitor. You should contact the CILE office with any questions concerning health insurance options.


There are two fees associated with the visiting scholar program at Pitt Law.  The first fee is a $275 Visa Processing Fee which is implemented by the Office of International Services. The admission letter will indicate the due date for this fee.  Secondly, there is a CILE Visiting Scholar Administration fee of $250 for each month of stay. This fee is due in full upon arrival at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.  All fees are non-refundable and must be submitted to the CILE office. Payments may be made through an international money order, an international draft, or a check in U.S. Dollars made payable to the "University of Pittsburgh."  Please write the name of visiting scholar on the check or money order. We cannot accept payment by cash or credit card.