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Information for Campus Administrators and Faculty

Definition: A Visiting Scholar is normally a scholar from another university, research institution, government agency or non-profit organization on leave from their home institution who visits the University for the purposes of participating in a University-sponsored educational program, cooperative agreement, or collaborative research project under the supervision of a UCSD faculty, for a short period of time.  (See Visiting Scholar Full Policy).


Visiting Scholars normally possess a terminal degree or foreign equivalent, but may be appointed with a baccalaureate/master’s degree if they are an undergraduate student visiting for the purposes of research or educational purpose.

Professional practitioners (e.g. government official, national organization administrator, journalist, or artist) without the minimum degree requirement or visiting student status may be proposed by exception if their visit will contribute to the research and educational mission of the University.

A Visiting Scholar is an official appointment. Before extending any invitation, consult with the Office of Research Scholar Affairs (“ORSA”) to ensure that appointment requirements are met.

Authority to Appoint

The Vice Chancellor for Research (or designate) has the authority to approve appointments and exceptions. The administrative unit responsible for the administration of this title is the Office of Research Scholar Affairs (“ORSA”) in the Office of Research Affairs.

Conditions of Appointment

  • Visiting Scholars are not permitted to engage in patient care or medical services. Appointments in a Health Sciences Department require certification that no element of patient care or clinical service is involved in their activity.
  • Visiting Scholars may not be a registered UC student, contractor or have another appointment/employment with the University.
  • University reserves the right to withdraw the privileges and terminate the appointment without prior notice.

Terms of Appointment

Visitors are appointed for short periods not to exceed one year (12 months), and more typically, for six (6) months or less. The appointment may be made in advance of arrival and is self-terminating.  Reappointment is permitted.  The University of California may terminate the appointment without prior notice and withdraw associated privileges.  

An initial appointment of more than one year or a reappointment that exceeds a two year consecutive period may be permissible if the program warrants a longer affiliation.  To process this type of request, please upload an Exception to Policy Memo addressed to Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Miroslav Krstic to the Appointments tab in RSAS database.  Include the following information in the memo:

  • Name of the scholar
  • Appointing department name
  • Requested length of appointment
  • Justification (e.g. visa, extended research length to complete project, and how the scholar will be supported, etc.)
  • Brief description of research with an explanation of how the research benefits UCSD/PI

The exception memo will reviewed by ORSA for the above criteria. 


  • Visiting Scholars are self-supported or receive fund directly from external sources.
  • Visiting Scholars are ineligible for compensation through UC San Diego.  If they are engaged in service or work that warrants compensation, they should be appointed into an appropriate paid title.
  • Visiting Scholars may not receive payments in the form of stipends or subsistence in lieu of salary.
  • Visiting Scholars do not have a payroll title code (but should be entered into UC Path as a Contingent Worker for tracking purposes).
  • Visiting Scholars can be paid by Exception for certain travel and/or living allowances or health insurance reimbursements. Please access the Approval Guidelines for Payments to Visiting Scholars drawer on this site.

Guidelines for Payments to Visiting Scholars

We understand that Visiting Scholars may engage in activities such as presenting research at professional meetings, attending a conference or traveling to collaborate with other researchers on behalf of UC San Diego. Also, there are instances when a Department would like to reimburse a visiting scholar for a travel ticket to and from their home institution and/or certain living expenses.  In these situations, where it would be appropriate to cover expenses related to travel, please follow the campus guidelines:


 1. Travel Payment Requests

Travel payments are requested via Concur and are non-taxable income to the payee.  For any travel payment to a visiting scholar, there must be a clear business purpose where UCSD is the primary beneficiary for the visit. 

UC San Diego travel policy, as published in Blink, is decisive. It has been adapted to UC San Diego's organization, delegation of authority, terminology, chart of accounts and processing applications. The source for UC San Diego travel policy is UC Travel Policy and Regulations (PDF).  Prior approval from ORSA is not required for payment of travel related expenses for Visiting Scholars.

2.  Disbursement Payment Requests

In addition, in rarer cases, as a courtesy to Visiting Scholars, departments may provide payments to cover health insurance (eg. as required by a visa) or living allowance for short term visits. Such payments may be requested through Disbursements on an allowable funding source and are not subject to prior approval by ORSA.

For questions regarding a Visiting Scholar appointment, contact For Disbursement payment request or Travel payment guidance, send a request to BFSupport.

For questions about compensation and payment to other visiting academic titles, please contact:

  • Visiting Professors (and other academic titles), Kelly Maheu, Academic Personnel, Academic Compensation
  • Visiting Graduate Students; see guidance or contact Graduate Division, Financial Support.

Processing a Visiting Scholar Appointment in RSAS

Visiting scholar appointments are processed in the RSAS database by departmental personnel. Please visit the RSAS Blink page for instructions on how to submit an appointment.
For more information concerning Visiting Scholar appointments, contact