Hosting Visiting Scholars

Given our location in Boston, with its rich and diverse cultural and intellectual communities, as well as our long history of global ties, it is no surprise that BU attracts visiting scholars who greatly enhance our community from every corner of the globe.

We proudly host over 1,000 foreign nationals from 91 countries to conduct research, teach, and work in a variety of capacities throughout the institution. Our international scholar population includes everyone from short-term visitors who conduct research on unpaid appointments to permanent, tenure-track professors.

It would be impossible to quantify the benefits derived by our faculty, students, and broader community from the exceptional diversity of perspectives brought by foreign scholars. These individuals enrich our community’s intellectual and research endeavors, international connections, and global perspectives.

Who are visiting scholars and what do they do?

Each year, hundreds of scholars and researchers from around the world are invited to BU to conduct research under the guidance of or in collaboration with members of the BU faculty. Visiting scholars come to BU for a few weeks or up to a full year. Most visiting scholars and researchers are junior or senior members of faculties in countries outside the US; some may be involved in government service or doctoral or postdoctoral studies. Visiting scholars benefit from an accommodating place to pursue their work and from an ability to exchange ideas with our faculty, other visiting scholars and neighboring institutions, our students, and the diverse Boston community.

In addition to pursuing their own research objectives while at BU, visiting scholars are often invited to actively participate in other University activities, such as:

  • Deliver a formal lecture to the school/college
  • Participate in departmental or interdisciplinary program seminars
  • Engage in formal or informal discussions with graduate students
  • Undertake collaborative research with faculty or staff
  • Present guest lectures in classes
  • Participate in International Education Week

What is expected of a department or faculty member hosting a visiting scholar?

The relationship between a visiting scholar and a BU faculty mentor can range from close collaboration to casual oversight. It is important that the nature and scope of the relationship, as well as the specifics of the prospective visitor’s research project, be worked out by the two before the visiting scholar arrives on campus. We encourage prospective BU faculty mentors to have a phone/Skype conversation with the potential visiting scholar to work out these issues and to assure that the two will be able to communicate comfortably.

Departments and/or faculty hosts contribute to a successful stay of a visiting scholar in many ways, which may include:

  • Arranging access to computers, libraries, and other facilities, as appropriate
  • Providing office or carrel space, if available
  • Space permitting, inviting visiting scholars to observe classes and attend faculty workshops and other academic events
  • Liaising early with the ISSO for necessary information to process immigration documents
  • Sharing impact stories and lessons learned with Global Programs

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program brings young and mid-career professionals from designated countries to the United States for a year of non-degree, graduate-level study, leadership development, and professional collaboration with US counterparts. Approximately 200 fellowships are awarded annually. Eighteen major universities in the United States host Humphrey Fellows. These host universities are chosen for their excellence in the program’s designated fields of study and for the resources and support they offer Humphrey Fellows.

Boston University has supported the Humphrey Fellowship program since its inception in 1978, today hosting approximately 13–15 fellows each year. BU now boasts over 430 Humphrey Fellow alumni from 188 countries. Under the personal guidance of faculty mentors and program coordinators, Humphrey Fellows engage in individualized programs of graduate-level coursework, independent research, special seminars, and colloquia at the University, and in activities related to their professional fields in government agencies, private organizations, and corporations.

There are several opportunities available to foreign scholars to visit us through the prestigious Fulbright program:

The Fulbright Visiting Scholar program provides grants to approximately 800 foreign scholars from over 95 countries to lecture and/or conduct postdoctoral research at US institutions for an academic semester up to a full academic year.

The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) program enables US colleges and universities to host foreign academics to lecture on a wide range of subject fields for a semester or academic year.

The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) provides travel awards through the Outreach Lecturer Fund, which allows Fulbright Visiting Scholars who are currently in the US to accept guest lecturing invitations at colleges and universities. BU faculty can search the Visiting Scholar Directory for scholars by name, discipline, and country. You may obtain scholar contact information through either the faculty associate and host institution department listed in the directory or through CIES staff.

Hosting a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Boston University

If you are contacted by a Fulbright Scholar to visit Boston University, it is often to request an invitation letter from you or your chair/dean for the scholar’s Fulbright application to CIES.

According to CIES, “In many countries, particularly those with binational commissions, scholars are expected to submit evidence that they have identified a host affiliation in the United States as part of the application process, well before an actual grant is awarded. Scholars usually include a letter of invitation from the host institution in their application materials.

“In other instances, often in countries where the competition is conducted by the public affairs section of the US embassy, scholars apply for awards and identify their specializations. This information is used to determine placement at US host institutions. For these grantees, CIES is active in confirming affiliations or arranging placements based upon the scholar’s interests and needs.”

More information on the duties and responsibilities expected of a hosting institution are detailed on the Fulbright website and in the CIES memo for Faculty Associates.

More information on eligibility and application requirements is located on the CIES website for the Fulbright Visiting (non-US) Scholar Program.

If a scholar’s Fulbright application is approved, CIES will send an email request for approval to BU’s institutional representative:

Willis Wang, Vice President and Associate Provost for Global Programs
One Silber Way, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02215

Assistant: Melissa Malone

BU Global Programs will then verify the faculty associate, the intended start date for the scholar’s fellowship, and the department/dean’s approval for hosting a Fulbright Scholar.