Visiting Scholars & Students

The Department of Music is often approached by scholars and graduate students from other institutions who have plans to spend time in New York and who are seeking a "visiting" affiliation with us. We are delighted to host several Visiting Scholars and Students annually, under a variety of program auspices, and many of us have been graciously hosted at sister institutions in the past. Visiting Scholars and Students enhance the life of our community and create new connections for future exchanges.

As New York City is a world center for music performance, composition and research, we receive far more requests for such affiliations than we can possibly honor, and can only accept a small number of affiliated visitors in any given year. We welcome Visiting Scholars and Students to participate fully in the busy creative and intellectual community of the Music department, and hope for such participation from our visitors. Such engagement and exchange should be your primary motivation for seeking a visiting status appointment at Columbia. Visitors will be provided with a University Identification card, which will enable you to use university facilities, including the University Library.

It is important to understand that Columbia is unable to provide financial compensation, health insurance, housing, office space, support services and other major resources. Additionally, Visiting Scholars and Students are not eligible for Columbia IRB review for their research. If your research requires IRB approval, it must be obtained from your home institution. In short, a visiting appointment is a courtesy status, with very limited privileges beyond the affiliation as such.

By strict policy of the University, former Visiting Scholars and Students should not claim to have earned a degree from Columbia or attended a Columbia University-sponsored training program, unless the terms of their sponsorship specify otherwise (IUDC visiting students, for example). "Visiting" status is not enrollment or matriculation. Nor should current Visiting Scholars or Students claim a Columbia University affiliation for such professional purposes as conference presentations, media appearances, or publications.  A Visiting Scholar and Student's very limited affiliation with Columbia begins and ends with the period of visiting appointment. We do not, ever, issue credentials, degrees, or subsequent formal affiliation to visiting scholars or students. 

The Department of Music, governed by University policy, can invite colleagues with significant credentials (typically a faculty or postdoctoral appointment at another university, although there are other possible qualifications) to spend up to one year (which is renewable for one additional year, only under very particular circumstances) in residence as Visiting Scholars. Generally, such visitors are supported by their home institution, such as a sabbatical leave, or by a major granting agency (i.e. Fulbright). Visiting Scholar appointments may also be requested for a single semester, either Fall or Spring, but once approved, they may not be easily extensible to a second semester. Only in rare cases would a Visiting Scholar appointment ever extend from Spring to Fall semesters, with an intervening summer. One year means a typical American academic year, from about September 1st to about May 31st, with a semester break from late December to mid-January. We are aware that other institutions and countries are on divergent academic calendars but our schedule typically applies. Please consult with the Department Chair if this presents a complication for your proposed visiting status period and we will advise you of your options prior to making your proposal.

Visiting Scholars are generally expected to deliver a colloquium presentation on their research to the department during their period of residency, for no additional compensation. Visiting Scholars are not expected (nor generally encouraged) to attend classes or seminars. Visiting Scholars do not teach in any formal capacity at Columbia while they have visiting status (only Visiting Professors teach). A Visiting Scholar is not considered to be a member of the faculty of Columbia University in any sense, at any time, and should never claim otherwise.

GSAS and the Department of Music will permit students enrolled in other graduate programs at the doctoral level only (must be a PhD or DMA student in your home institution) in Music to spend up to one year maximum in residence, subject to faculty approval.  Visiting Students must be affiliated with a sponsoring program, such as one of several university consortia or a major granting agency such as Fulbright or DAAD. In general, Visiting Students are welcome to attend appropriate classes and seminars, with instructor permission and for credit, only if the sponsoring program requires this, has a reciprocal arrangement for Columbia students, and covers all tuition and fees incurred through registration for classes. 

Visiting Student appointments may also be requested for a single semester, either Fall or Spring, but once approved, they may not be easily extensible to a second semester.

All visitors to the Department of Music must have a “sponsor" from the Music faculty during their residency. We can suggest such sponsors for you, but if no member of the faculty is willing to undertake your sponsorship, we simply cannot accommodate you. We generally show preference for visitors whose work is of direct enough interest to at least one member of our faculty. If you already have a relationship with or a referral to a Columbia Music faculty member, approach that person first to determine their interest in sponsoring your visiting status. The duties of such a faculty sponsor are minimal, and not a major imposition in terms of time or effort. The sponsor provides a point of contact for the visitor in case of difficulties, or if communication is required between the department and the visitor's home institution. Sponsors also act as mentors and facilitators for Visiting Scholars and Students, and are charged primarily with maintaining the visitor's communication with the Music department during the period of the visit.

When you approach a potential sponsor in the Music faculty, you may refer them to this description of the role: "The point is that sponsorship is not a major time investment, but insures the intellectual/artistic connection between the visitor and the department is supported and advocated for throughout the period of the visiting appointment."

Contact your potential sponsor at least one semester but ideally one year before your proposed visiting period would begin. Please note that Columbia is on summer break from approximately May 15th till Sept 1st. Getting the approval of a sponsor and the entire faculty may be delayed during this time. In general, we discourage such requests during the summer months.  

While Columbia's International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) will assist international Visiting Scholars and Students, the visitor is solely responsible for knowing and conforming to applicable immigration and customs policies and laws. For international visitors, specialized questions about visa or immigration issues pertaining to your proposed visit, or approved visiting status, must be addressed by the ISSO.

There may be fees attached to processing your visa paperwork for visiting status, and if so, you (or your granting agency or home institution) are expected to cover those fees. Under no circumstances will Columbia University cover these fees.

Send an initial email inquiry directly to the faculty member you wish to sponsor you, at least one semester but ideally one year before your proposed visiting period would begin, along with the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV).
  • A brief but formal statement of your reasons for wanting to be at Columbia specifically, in addition to an overview of your research or dissertation proposal, if applicable. The presence of particular faculty members whose work is of interest to you or overlaps with your areas of interest, research, or creativity should typically comprise a significant portion of your proposal. The other major reasons for seeking affiliation at Columbia might include the presence of particular collections or other resources (such as our various research centers) or the presence of particular faculty members in other departments (in which case, however, you might consider approaching those other departments). Please articulate the reasons why Columbia's Department of Music, specifically, can help serve your academic or artistic goals during the period of your proposed visit. 
  • The name and contact information for at least one academic reference, generally a faculty member at your home institution. We may choose to contact your reference(s) for a letter, so let them know you've listed them. Ideally, such references should be provided in English if possible, although we can read and will accept letters in major European languages. Letters of reference from non-academic sources are discouraged. 
  • If you are funded for the proposed visiting period, provide information on the source of support and contact information for the supporting agency, so that we can verify your support.
  • If you are in the process of seeking funding and require us to attest that we will accept you as a visitor (sometimes the case with Fulbright and other fellowships), please provide information on the funding source you are applying to.

All requests for visiting affiliation will first be reviewed and approved/declined by the faculty member you request to be your sponsor. If approved, the faculty member will then forward your materials to the ladder faculty for review. The request requires the approval of a majority of the department's faculty. Once reviewed, the faculty member you submitted your request to will contact you with the status.