Visiting Scholars and Researchers

Cornell welcomes visiting scholars through the Clarke Center for International and Comparative Legal Studies, the Berger Program, the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture and the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa and the Death Penalty Project.

All visitors fall within one of two categories:

Visiting Scholar Visiting Researcher
Generally those with a faculty appointment at their home institution for 5 years or more, or equivalent professional status (e.g., experienced jurists, government officials, and senior practitioners). Generally Ph.D. degree candidates, younger professionals, and others who are at the beginning of a promising academic career.
Fees: $2,500 /semester; $5,000/academic year Fees: $1,250/semester; $2,500/academic year

Visiting scholars and researchers typically spend one or two semesters in residence, completing major research projects. If you wish to stay less than one semester, please contact us to discuss the length of your proposed stay and the corresponding fee.

If you are interested in being affiliated with either the Clarke Program in East Asia Law and Culture, the Clarke Initiative in Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa and or The Death Penalty Project, please indicate that interest in your application materials.

Applications are due by February 1 for visits to begin the following August-December and by September 1 for visits to begin the following January- July. To apply, please review the information below and submit an application form and supporting documentation by the applicable deadline.


In general, Cornell Law School does not accept visiting scholars or researchers unless the applicant is the nominee under an exchange agreement with a partner school, or a Cornell Law School faculty member has invited them.

Nevertheless, each year a few spots are available to scholars without a preexisting connection to Cornell. However, in the absence of a preexisting relationship with a faculty member, applicants are asked not to contact faculty members directly. The Law School will match prospective scholars with interested faculty members during the application review process. If you are interested in working with a particular faculty member, you may indicate that in your research statement on the application in the space provided, but again, we ask that you not contact them in advance.

Each year, the number of applications far exceeds the number of scholars the Law School can accommodate. We review each application and take into account each applicant's academic background, research interests, scholarly achievements, and English-language proficiency. We normally make our decisions shortly after the application deadline.

English language requirement

J-1 regulations now require proof of sufficient English language knowledge upon being selected to participate in a J-1 program. This regulation impacts incoming J-1 visitors; those already present in J-1 status and those whose initial DS-2019 forms were issued prior to January 5, 2015 are not required to demonstrate English proficiency at the present time.

For those who wish to increase their English language ability, there are several opportunities for English language study in Ithaca.

 Health insurance requirements

Cornell University requires that you have a medical insurance policy protecting you and your family in the event of a major illness or injury. U.S. Government regulations also mandate that all exchange visitors (J-1 visa holders) and their dependents (J-2) have health and accident insurance to participate in Cornell’s exchange programs.

In addition, federal regulations prohibit an extension of your J-1 status beyond the dates on the DS-2019 form without proof that you have maintained insurance for yourself and all family members during your entire length of stay in the U.S. as an exchange visitor. Cornell ordinarily requires its visiting students and scholars to purchase Cornell health insurance. In some circumstances, students/scholars and their families may substitute a comparable external insurance plan for the Cornell plan, if it meets the minimum coverage requirements outlined below. However, waivers from this requirement are difficult to obtain. Learn more here.

Minimum level of insurance coverage required

·         Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness

·         A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

·         Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500

·         Expenses associated with the medical evacuation to home country in the amount of $10,000

 Note that in the United States, certain kinds of elective medical care, such as eyeglasses or dentistry, are ordinarily not covered by insurance and can be very expensive. If possible, take care of those needs before leaving home.

J-1 staff members

Cornell has a medical insurance plan that most exchange visitors with academic appointments for a semester or longer may join. Eligibility depends on the conditions of your appointment.


If Cornell does not provide insurance for you, you must make alternative plans to ensure required coverage for your entire visit. The ISSO cannot endorse or recommend any private health insurance plan. We recommend that you do a web search on “health insurance plans for J-1 exchange visitors” to assess your options. Contact Benefit Services, Office of Human Resources for further information:

Suite 130

395 Pine Tree Road

Ithaca, NY 14850


Visa requirements

Once accepted into a program, the Law School will send visiting scholars and visiting researchers the necessary forms to obtain a J-1 visa. These forms should be returned as described in the accompanying instructions. Please note that immigration regulations require all foreign visitors to provide documentation of their ability to support themselves financially while in the United States. Currently, the minimum funding requirement is $1800 per month per visitor, plus an additional $1200 per month for an accompanying spouse and $500 per month for an accompanying child, $400 for each additional child, IF spouse is accompanying and will provide child care or $1100 for each additional child if spouse is not accompanying the visitor

Updated financial requirements will be provided along with other materials upon a visitor’s acceptance into the program.


Visitors are responsible for locating suitable housing, but the Cornell University International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) can provide some information in that regard. Visit the ISSO website for more information about finding housing in Ithaca.

Application Deadlines
  • February 1 (for visits to begin the following August-December)
  • September 1 (for visits to begin the following January-July)
Application Procedure
  • All prospective visiting scholars and researchers must supply:
  • A completed application form
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • A one-page description of their intended research project
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores or accepted documentation of English-language proficiency, if not a native English speaker



You must pay for your visit before arriving at Cornell Law. Please refer to your appointment letter for the amount you will need to pay. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.


Contact us to learn more