Visiting Scholars Program


The program is open only to senior scholars, judges, and governmental officials with a substantial record of professional achievement and a well-developed research agenda. Junior scholars and officials interested in studying at Stanford Law School should apply instead to the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS) or, if appropriate, to Stanford Law School’s LL.M. programs with the following specializations: Corporate Governance & Practice; Environmental Law & Policy; Law, Science & Technology; and International Economic Law, Business & Policy. Information on these programs can be found on the Advanced Degree Programs webpage.


5-10 scholars per year

Selection Criteria

Visiting Scholars are selected on the basis of experience, prior professional achievements, and the quality of research proposals. All scholars must be proficient in the English language. Also, Visiting Scholars must have a Stanford Law School faculty sponsor, who will be in residence at the time of the Scholar’s visit, and who is interested in the Scholar’s proposed research plan.


Visiting Scholars gain certain access privileges to the Robert Crown Law Library as described here, Stanford libraries, a computer account, printing privileges at the law school, and the opportunity to audit up to two courses on a non-credit basis with the consent of the instructor. Visiting Scholars also are welcome to attend a variety of workshops, colloquia and other academic presentations at the Law School. Long term visiting scholars are eligible to use the University’s recreational and athletic facilities, with the exception of the Stanford Golf Course.

Tuition and Fees

For the 2024-2025 academic year, Visiting Scholars are charged $3,972 per academic quarter.  In addition to tuition fees, there is a one-time administrative/visa processing fee of $200. Additional US government fees may be required.

Stanford does not offer any financial aid for Visiting Scholars, nor can the Law School defray tuition. Fees are payable in US dollars, in a check made out to “Stanford Law School”, or by bank wire transfer, and are due upon arrival.

Application Process

Prospective visiting scholars must submit the following information in support of their application either by mail or by email (Office of Admissions, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, CA 94305 or by email at

  • Written confirmation from a Stanford Law School faculty member agreeing to sponsor your visit. Look in the directory for a list of SLS faculty.
  • A current resume, including a complete list of publications and any significant honors
  • A proposed research agenda (along with an explanation of why the applicant wishes to conduct the research at Stanford Law School)
  • Two letters of reference
  • The proposed dates of residence (Month Date, Year format)
  • A statement of the candidate’s source of funding for his or her visit
  • Proof of personal financial resources in the amount of $2,500/month for length of requested visit. Bank statements or letters from your home institution stating their support are examples of such documentation

Stanford does not provide housing for visiting scholars. You should research local resources advertising housing carefully before making a commitment. Click here for housing resources.

Visiting Scholars who are in J-1 visas are responsible for obtaining insurance for themselves and their dependents and must provide proof of insurance upon arrival to campus.

English Proficiency Requirements for J-1 Visa

According to new regulations, which went into effect on January 5, 2015, all sponsors of J Exchange Visitors must retain “evidence” of “objective measures” of a prospective Exchange Visitor’s English proficiency before a DS-2019 can be issued.

The prospective visitor will need to possess “sufficient proficiency in the English language as determined by an objective measurement of English language proficiency, successfully to participate in his or her program and to function on a day-to-day basis.”

This “objective measure” can take the following forms:

  1. A TOEFL score (or equivalent test) of 89 or higher
  2. Signed documentation from an academic institution or English language school
  3. A documented interview conducted by the department either in-person, by videoconferencing, or by telephoning if the videoconferencing is not a viable option.

Exemption from English proficiency:
Exemptions may be granted to applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the international equivalent degree from a university of recognized standing in a country in which all instruction is provided in English. Therefore, applicants with degrees from the U.S., Australia, Canada (except Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland and the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales) may be exempt from the English Proficiency requirement. Should the exemption not  be granted, the applicant must provide an “objective measure” of English proficiency as listed above.

J Students have already submitted an objective measurement of English proficiency in the form of a recognized English test required of all those admitted to Stanford’s degree seeking programs.

Application Deadlines

Summer arrival (June): Materials must be submitted by February 15th

Fall arrival (September): Materials must be submitted by April 15th

Winter arrival (January): Materials must be submitted by August 15th

Spring arrival (April): Materials must be submitted by November 15th

The maximum stay is one year, however, visitors have the option of staying for just one or two academic quarters if they choose to do so.

Normally, applications for stays of less than one quarter will not be considered.