Visiting Student Interns Policy Announcement

June 14, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

A new policy has been established to host students who are enrolled at another university where they are working towards a degree program (whether at the undergraduate or graduate level) and would like to visit Columbia to conduct research training and/or engage in collaborative activities with a faculty or officer of research Principal Investigator. These visiting students will now be treated as Visiting Student Interns (VSIs).

Prior to this new policy, such visiting students were required to hold an appointment at Columbia with internal or external funding. At the undergraduate level, this population was referred to as Visiting Student Intern-Research. At the graduate level, Masters students were appointed as Staff Associate I and PhD students as Staff Associate II. We continue to welcome such visitors as Visiting Student Interns (VSIs). This new VSI policy ensures that the University can account for these visitors as well as responsibly provide the necessary support and guidance for their visit, while acknowledging the mission is educational and training in nature. We also strive to make sure that an opportunity is provided for visiting students from all backgrounds.

This group includes visiting students who perform research in the laboratories of Columbia faculty or officers of research. The period of the internship cannot exceed one year, and the student is expected to resume their academic degree program at their home institution at the conclusion of their research internship at Columbia.

To sponsor Visiting Student Interns, the following three conditions must be met:

  1. Enrollment Status: The student needs to provide proof of enrollment throughout the duration of the visit in a non-Columbia University degree program, either at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  1. Funding: To ensure that this opportunity is open to students of all backgrounds, we expect students to have funding support of at least $3000 per month. Acceptable funding sources that can be used to satisfy 49% of this funding requirement ($1,470 per month) can be found here for both domestic and international students. For domestic students, proof of housing at no cost to the student (e.g., such as a letter written and signed by a family member/friend confirming a VSI living in the same household) can substitute for the 49% funding requirement. The remaining 51% of the funding ($1,530 per month) must come from the student’s home institution, an external funding agency, and/or from the Columbia sponsor. If a student has 100% funding from their home institution or an external funding agency, there is no need for the PI to provide funding.
  1. Training Description: To support the designation of the Visiting Student Intern, the Columbia sponsor must provide a brief statement on the Visiting Student Intake Form indicating the training components of the internship. The Columbia sponsor should indicate specific knowledge, skills, or techniques that the student will learn; how the knowledge, skills, or techniques will be taught (including specific tasks, activities, and methodologies of training); and how the acquisition of new skills will be measured. For the intake form, please see the Office of Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs VSI website.

To process visiting student intern requests, please see the Office of Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs VSI website. There you can find the “Visiting Student Intern Invitation Process” guide, which provides the required steps and forms to process a VSI, including the “Visiting Student Intake Form”, an “Inventions Agreement for Visiting Personnel Using Columbia University Research Facilities” form, and information on the University’s “Policy on Compliance and Training Requirements for Visitors involved in Research Activities.”

A workflow diagram is provided in the “Visiting Student Intern Invitation Process” guide, to facilitate this process. Once ready, all forms need to be submitted to the respective Dean’s, EVP’s, or Director’s office at the Schools, Institutes, or Centers located on the Morningside, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Manhattanville campuses. Requests for Visiting Student Interns at CUIMC should be submitted via the JIRA system, and questions about the process should be directed to Dionida Ryce ([email protected]) or Gabriela Guzman ([email protected]) in the CUIMC Office of Faculty Affairs. We will work with each of your schools, institutes, and centers to implement the new workflow and answer questions.

Note that there are currently several types of visitors at Columbia, and this updated policy does not apply to all. Those who will NOT be affected by this policy include:

  • Visiting students who come to Columbia to use the University’s libraries and facilities to pursue their own independent (non-collaborative) research.  On the Morningside campus, these visitors are currently designated as Visiting Scholar/Scientist and should continue to be designated in this manner. For more information about designating visiting scholars/scientists, see this link.
  • Short-term visitors. This population of visitors includes students (e.g., high school students) or non-students who come to observe programmatic activities or to receive training by observation in specific research or clinical techniques for three months or less. For more information on short-term visitor policies in research-related and clinical activities, see this link.


Eugenia Lean
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Sam Sia
Vice Provost for the Fourth Purpose and Strategic Impact