Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGRs)

What is a VGR?

A Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR) is an individual, domestic or international, who is: (1) enrolled as degree-seeking graduate student at a non-University of California institution and maintaining satisfactory advancement towards the completion of his or her academic degree, and (2) invited to conduct short-term doctoral research or participate in a “prescribed course of study” such as a mentored or independent research project or master’s research collaborations with a faculty member at UCLA.

All Visiting Graduate Researchers must be sponsored by UCLA faculty who are members of the Academic Senate (i.e., eligible to mentor doctoral students).

The VGR’s visit must be at least one of the following:

  1. Prescribed course of study: a non-degree academic visit with a specific educational objective related to the scholar’s field of study, not including enrollment in UCLA courses or receipt of a
    UCLA transcript. Allowable activities include mentored or independent research projects, master’s or doctoral research collaborations, and classroom instruction (University Extension only).
  2. Academic training: work, training or experience related directly to a student’s field of study. Such training may include – but is not limited to – internships, practice, and field work.
    Appropriate activities vary by discipline. May involve sequential or simultaneous activities, either paid or unpaid.
  3. Doctoral dissertation research: individual must be advanced to candidacy or the equivalent at the home institution.

Please note: UC graduate students visiting UCLA for research or courses complete the intercampus exchange process rather than hold a VGR appointment

For more information see the VGR Program comparison with No Degree Objective (NDO) graduate student status table.

In order to be considered for the VGR status, the following are required. These items must be submitted for review to ATO prior to any actions. Please coordinate with your Faculty sponsor Administrator.

  1. Registered Graduate Student and provide proof of enrollment/registration.
  2. Proof of financial support. Applicable to international VGRs.
  3. Visit must be either prescribed course of study, academic training, and or doctoral dissertation research. See description below.
  4. Fee payment for the research visit.

Appointment Duration

VGRs may conduct research at UCLA for a minimum of 3 weeks to 2 years maximum. Initial appointment duration cannot be longer than 12 months. A second year may be granted, however, is contingent upon approval by the faculty member. International VGRs who require sponsorship are required to conduct research for a minimum of 30 days.

Visa Requirements for international VGRs:  

International VGRs must work with the hiring center to apply for a J-1 non-degree student visa. Hiring centers must contact Iriss Brion before any actions are done; in order to verify the eligibility of the potential student. The Graduate Division’s provisional approval of the application is required before the visa application request is submitted to the David Geffen School of Medicine Visa and Licensing office. Applicants with B, F, and J-2 visas are not eligible for VGR status. The David Geffen School of Medicine Visa and Licensing Office has information on J-1 non-degree student visa requirements.

Financial Certification for Campus Fees and Living Expense

International visitors must present original evidence of financial support that covers the minimum financial amount for program fees and living expenses for the duration of their program stay. These funds may be identified as a personal/family funds, scholarship, fellowship, or a grant/award from the student’s home institution, a government or nongovernment agency or other organization. If some or all of the non-personal funds are to be provided by UCLA, the hosting department must provide a letter specifying the fund source, level and duration of the support.

New rates effective October 1, 2012:

  • Professors/Scholars/Specialist – $2247.33/month, $26,968.00/year
  • Spouse – $500.00/month, $6,000.00/year
  • Each Child – $222.25/month, $2,667.00/year

Fees for VGRs

Fees are required to be paid. Either by the VGR or the faculty sponsor. Please note, there are several fees that are assessed for the VGR appointment. A description of the fees are explained below. In addition, when a VGR’s appointment falls anywhere within a quarter, he or she will be charged fees for that entire quarter. As quarterly fees are not prorated, we encourage you to plan the dates of the Visiting Graduate Researcher’s visit around the schedule listed below. Please click below for calendar and fee chart.

Fees to be Paid Upon Application

The Visa processing and administrative fees and Graduate Division administrative fees for the entire length of stay are due upon application and are non-refundable. Payment of VGR fees is required unless there is in place an official exchange agreement or memorandum of understanding that stipulates explicitly a waiver of VGR or campus fees.

Fees to be Paid Upon Temporary Approval

The quarterly library access fees must be paid by the VGR and are non-refundable. All other fees may be paid by either the VGR or department/institute, at the department/institute’s discretion and are non-refundable. Note: At this time we cannot accept third-party payments for the VGR application and campus fees.


A reappointment is a new transaction and is not counted as a continuing quarter (i.e. the Graduate Division administrative fees of $250 will be charged for the first quarter of the reappointment and $100 for each subsequent quarter). All fees are assessed with the exception of the International Institute fee (for international VGRs). Visa fees may be assessed again based on a) the reappointment dates or b) whether there is a lapse of time between the end of the initial appointment and the start of the reappointment.

*Effective July 1, 2019: The Instructional Technology (IT) fee will be $131.88 per quarter. Any applications submitted before AND with fees paid prior to July 1st will be at the previous rate of $129.06. Any applications submitted on OR paid after July 1st will be at the new rates.

Additional Fees

UCLA Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan (VSBP) health insurance (via Gallagher Benefits Services) must be purchased if VGR is unable to provide proof of comparable coverage. The VSBP plans range in price from $52.00 to $641.00 per VGR with additional fees applied for spouses and dependents. Please review the Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan for medical plans, rates, and additional information.

VGR appointments lasting three months and longer are eligible for a BruinCard.  The department can request an Affiliate/Guest BruinCard through the BruinCard Office following Graduate Division Final Approval. The $7.50 Affiliate/Guest BruinCard fee must be paid by recharge ID through the department.

Health & Welfare

All international visitors are required to enroll in or waive out of the the Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan, managed by Garnett-Powers & Associates. This UCLA-sponsored health insurance plan is specifically designed to meet the mandatory health insurance requirements listed for J-1 visa holders.

The Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars (DCISS) and the School of Medicine Visa Office work with Garnett-Powers to verify mandatory health insurance coverage for all international Visiting Graduate Researchers.

Domestic visitors already covered by a US health insurance policy may submit proof of policy benefits (insurance card or benefits summary) directly to the Graduate Division to satisfy the health insurance requirements. You can also purchase insurance through the Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan if you are not already covered.

VGRs may receive a stipend from UCLA fund sources equivalent to a 50% non-academic appointment in support of their research and or up to 20 hours of wages of work weekly (maximum 50% time appointment) as is permissible under campus and federal immigration policy. 

VGRs are not eligible to teach or serve as readers at UCLA.

For VGRs receiving stipends and or salary, you will receive an email once the ATO has submitted a notification to the Glacier system regarding your appointment. Please make sure to complete your glacier form and submit the requested documents. Your stipend will not be released until your Glacier record is complete. 

Please visit Glacier site for changes and or updates. 

Resources & Privileges

VGRs will have access to UCLA licensed resources and databases available while using a workstation in a department or a public workstation in a library.

(With UID Only) VGRs are both eligible and welcome to reside in Weyburn Terrace and University Village Family buildings. VGRs are currently not eligible for the other University Apartments South mixed-use buildings. In order to receive a housing offer, VGRs must submit a housing application at the My Housing web page by selecting the “Single Graduate Housing Application” or “Family Housing Application” link, contingent on specific housing needs. For more information on UCLA housing terms and conditions for VGRs, please visit the Ask Housing website.

VGRs may also refer to the Community Housing Office for information on other local housing option. 

VGRs are not UCLA students. They are graduate students elsewhere who visit UCLA to receive research training and/or conduct research with UCLA faculty. As such, VGRs do not qualify to take UCLA courses directly. Instead, they may register for University Extension (UNEX) courses and/or for UCLA courses via concurrent UNEX enrollment only. Concurrent enrollment must be approved by the instructor.

If an individual would like to enroll in one or more UCLA courses directly (i.e., to have the work documented on a UCLA transcript), s/he should apply as a No Degree Objective (NDO) student. Applicants apply for NDO status via the existing graduate admissions system and meet UCLA and departmental entrance requirements. An NDO student is not eligible to be appointed concurrently as a Visiting Graduate Researcher.

VGRs may visit the Office of Ombuds Services for assistance in resolving conflicts, disputes or complaints on an informal basis. Ombudspersons act as neutrals and are committed to confidentiality.

(With UID Only) UCLA Recreation has multiple facilities, hundreds of classes and fitness programs, intramural teams and club sports. Visiting Graduate Researchers are eligible to join as Student Affiliates for a fee.

(With UID Only) BruinGO! Transit Program allows you to ride on the Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus lines for $0.50. With a BruinCard and BOL account, you are eligible to apply online for Flash Pass, allowing you to ride the Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus lines for $33 per academic quarter.

A parking permit is a privilege at the discretion of the department.

The Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars offers an American Culture & Conversation Program for visitors to learn about American culture and practice English conversation skills during class discussions. The program fee is $25 per section and spaces are limited. You will need to create a Dashew Center account in order to register for the program.

The visiting student will be issued a bruincard the serves as their key card to gain access University privileges and facilities. In addition, the card also serves as a debit card for making purchases on and around the campus. 

For more information, please visit Graduate Division Privileges and Courtesies.

Finding A Mentor

VGRs are required to be sponsored by UCLA faculty who are members of the Academic Senate (i.e., eligible to mentor doctoral students). Any communication and correspondence regarding any potential appointment openings should be directed to the faculty member of your choice.

Please visit the Clinical and research fellowships in Psychiatry and the Neurosciences at UCLA.

Application for postdoctoral training at UCLA is made to a specific faculty member or members in an academic department or research unit. In order to help identify an appropriate faculty member, you may wish to access the UCLA database of  faculty member research interests and contact information.

Tip: UCLA departments and programs web pages are excellent resources for locating potential mentors or advisors.  They provide summaries of faculty research interests, areas of expertise, and contact information. Happy Hunting!