Groups of NU students registering

Visiting Predoctoral Fellows

Quite often, graduate students enrolled at another university wish to come to Northwestern to study with an NU faculty member, either for a limited appointment or as part of the research group of a faculty member moving to Northwestern from another school. These Visiting Predoctoral Fellows (VPFs) can receive temporary appointments at Northwestern while maintaining their standing, and continuing to be paid, through their home university. 

VPFs are not admitted to the Northwestern program, but must have faculty and program sponsorship in order to be appointed. They should continue registering at their original institution (as per that institution’s policies) and they will receive their degree from their original program. Most Visiting Fellowships are for a single year, but may be extended with an annual review and a renewal of their appointment. Typically, only students who have completed their qualifying exams at their home institution are eligible for this program.

As VPFs are not registered students at Northwestern, The Graduate School (TGS) does not take responsibility for their funding or appointment.

There are two major types of VPF appointments. In the first, a student from another university wishes to study at Northwestern for a prescribed period of time as an independent researcher. These students require the sponsorship of a NU faculty member, but are funded by an outside source (usually their home institution or an outside grant or fellowship).

Most other cases involve students who were part of a faculty member’s research group at another university and move to Northwestern to finish their research under the same advisor. In these cases, funding must be provided by the faculty adviser’s grants and managed by the program, school and the Office of Human Resources, in concert with the fellow’s home institution. In practice, students are subcontracted through the home institution. Grant funds go to the home institution, which then pays stipend, tuition and health insurance fees, in accordance with its own policies.

In all cases, VPFs must have clearly-delineated forms of support and insurance before they can be appointed at NU. Contact the Office for Research as soon as possible for help in setting up and managing the appointment process. Download the Recommendation for Research Staff Appointment Form.

It is also the responsibility of the faculty advisor and the program to see that any visa issues are resolved with the International Office.

VPFs are allowed to sit in on classes if permission is granted by the course director, though the appointment is specifically to conduct independent research. No transcript for any course work will be made.

VPFs are subject to all Northwestern policies and procedures, including but not limited to Northwestern's patent and intellectual property policy, as well as Northwestern research integrity and misconduct procedures.

For more information, see the VPFs page at the Office for Research website.