Types of Collaborations

There are many kinds of collaborations between Penn State and international counterparts. Some require formal agreements, while others do not. The following is a brief overview of the more common types of collaborations, with links to more detailed explanations.

International Visiting Graduate Students/Scholars/Faculty

In many cases, international visiting graduate students, scholars, and faculty may come to Penn State for research or teaching activities without a formal agreement.  If such arrangements are developed as part of an agreement, the following policies should be considered:

  • Temporary Teaching and Advising: Participation of visiting faculty from an international institution in teaching courses, advising students, and serving on doctoral committees for a limited time must meet Graduate School requirements.  At the undergraduate level, the authority and responsibility for the selection of visiting faculty rests with the academic deans and chancellors. There is no formal approval process analogous to that used by the Graduate School. Visiting faculty, international or otherwise, are expected to follow the same college, faculty senate, ACUE and other Penn State policies as regular faculty.
  • Teaching and Advising for Longer Periods: Visiting researchers or faculty who will teach graduate courses at Penn State beyond occasional guest lectures must be approved by the Penn State Graduate School.  Members of doctoral dissertation committees at Penn State must be either members of the Graduate Faculty or be added as special members with the approval of the Director of Graduate Enrollment Services.
  • Graduate Students Conducting Research Only: If a member of the Penn State Graduate Faculty wishes to oversee a graduate student's research, the student may come to Penn State as a provisional-no-time-limit student.  This is a category associated with a major that is used primarily for international student exchanges or when international students are coming to Penn State to conduct research for a specific period of time but not to receive a Penn State degree. By using the provisional-no-time-limit category, an exchange student will be assigned an academic home, be eligible for funding privileges (assistantships, etc.), and have access to university facilities (housing, library, computer labs, etc.). In contrast, non-degree student status limits a student's access to these privileges.
  • Visa Eligibility: The Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) assists visiting scholars with immigration related issues. The type of visa will depend on a number of criteria, including length of stay, type of activity and payment source.  In general, visiting scholars must submit the following application documents or meet these requirements:
    • Documentation of financial support or funding for the entire stay (minimum amount determined by Penn State annually);
    • Demonstrated English language skills sufficient for the purpose of their Penn State stay (e.g. ability to interact and conduct research/teach courses in English);
    • Any additional requirements selected by the sponsoring department.
  • Medical Insurance:  Visiting scholars on a J-1 visa must have medical insurance that meets the guidelines of the J-1 program including medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.  This can be accomplished by purchasing Penn State’s medical insurance plan or by providing proof (in English) of comparable alternate health and accident coverage.  For more information, visit University Health Services. It is strongly recommended that agreements make health insurance, medical evacuation and repatriation of remains mandatory for international visitors who are not required by law to purchase this coverage.
  • Length of Stay: Short-term visiting scholars may stay at Penn State for a maximum six (6) months; J-1 Professor and Research Scholars may stay up to five (5) years. 
  • Incidental Study (i.e. not full-time and not pursuing a degree): International researchers are allowed to take courses for credit or officially audit courses, often referred to as “incidental study.”  To qualify, they must submit a Graduate School application for a “Provisional-No-Time-Limit” status, official transcripts, application fee, adequate TOEFL/IELTS test scores, and any other documents the department requires.  International researchers are not required to decide whether or not they will take courses prior to their arrival in the U.S.
  • Access to Materials and Labs: Access to materials and labs is subject to U.S. legal requirements and Penn State policies, including, but not limited to, export control laws.
  • Payments to International Scholars: Payment depends on a variety of factors. Departments should contact DISSA and their Finance Officer prior to the arrival of the international scholar. (See Non-U.S. Citizen Payment Guidelines)
  • Forms: All visitors who are being paid an honorarium or reimbursed directly through the ERS system must complete the Visitor’s Information Sheet for Income and Travel.   Furthermore, a University Scholar Agreement may be required in cases where individuals will be speaking or presenting at Penn State.
  • Intellectual Property: International visiting scholars must sign Penn State’s standard intellectual property agreement (Policy RA-11).