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Visiting International Scholar Program

The College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State welcomes serious scholars from around the world to engage in independent research or creative activity during one semester or a full academic year.  Visits during the summer are also possible.

Visiting scholars typically hold an academic appointment as a faculty member at a university, art center, academy or conservatory outside the United States or have equivalent professional credentials in a discipline included in the College of Arts and Architecture (architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, art history, visual art, music, and theatre). While in residence, visiting scholars are encouraged to participate in the intellectual life of the college, collaborate with faculty, and conduct research in the Penn State University Libraries and the Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library.  

Admissions Procedure

Interested persons should complete and e-mail the materials listed below to by January 15 for a residency beginning between July 1 and December 31, and by May 15 for a residency beginning between January 1 and June 30.

  • Application form
  • Cover letter describing how the unit you have identified within Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture present is an appropriate arts area for you to conduct your proposed research or creative activity
  • Curriculum vitae describing professional accomplishments, educational background, employment history, publications and awards
  • Detailed proposal with timeline and completion date for a project appropriate to one of the academic units in the College of Arts and Architecture
  • Contact information for a reference who is willing to provide a confidential letter of recommendation.

Applicants will be selected based on academic and professional background and credentials, proposed plan of research, dates of proposed residence, assessment of English language proficiency, and the capacity of the appropriate unit in the College of Arts and Architecture. The college will notify accepted applicants with an official letter of invitation and accepted candidates will be required to provide additional information concerning the application for a J-1 visa including a letter demonstrating available funding and, under Penn State University policy, undergo a background check. 

Requirements for J-1 visas

Demonstrated Funding: By federal regulations, Forms DS-2019 for foreign nationals and/or their families cannot be issued unless adequate funding for the full period is documented. The DS-2019 is issued by a U.S. government institution certifying that you have demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the U.S. for the length of the DS-2019 form.  The DS-2019 is officially titled the “Certificate of Eligibility” because with it, you are “eligible” to apply for a J-1 visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.  

Health Insurance: J-1 scholars and their dependents are required to have health insurance coverage for their entire stay in the U.S. that meets U.S. government and Penn State University requirement.  This may be accomplished by purchasing health insurance through Penn State University.  Alternatively, if visiting scholars and their dependents have health insurance through their home government or employer that meets these requirements, a waiver may be obtained through Penn State University Health Services (a copy of the insurance coverage must be provided in English).  Detailed information regarding health insurance requirements will be provided through the Penn State University Office of International Scholar Advising as part of the visa process.

English Language Proficiency

An English proficiency interview will be conducted by a Penn State representative to evaluate that the language skills of the applicant meet visa requirements.


Penn State University’s College of Arts and Architecture charges accepted visiting international scholars a fee of $100 per month of residency to defray its costs.  The fee is due upon arrival for the residence.  

Research and Professional Development Opportunities

Visiting international scholars in good standing shall receive a Penn State University Access Account, e-mail address, and a Photo ID.  These credentials provide access to and assistance from Penn State University Libraries (including academic access to electronic resource, databases).  After hours access to College of Arts and Architecture buildings will be granted based on the needs of the visiting scholar on a case-by-case basis.

Visiting scholars are welcome to attend the wide range of programs, symposia, and workshops for College of Arts and Architecture faculty, students, and the public throughout the academic year.  Visiting scholars may attend College of Arts and Architecture classes and seminars with the instructor’s permission.  

Other Services

  • Office space or personal computers are normally not provided for visiting scholars.
  • University housing is not available for visiting scholars.  Other information about housing is available here:, Apartment Guide, Craigslist.
  • Local bus service is available.
  • Information about obtaining a driver’s license in Pennsylvania is available here.
  • Visitors are entitled to purchase a parking permit for parking on campus.  Available parking areas most convenient to the College of Arts and Architecture buildings are the Nittany Parking Deck (Red D permit) and the East Parking Deck (Yellow D permit).  A schedule of fees is available here.