Visiting Student Research Collaborators (VSRC)

About VSRC Status

Every year, hundreds of graduate students from universities around the world apply to come to Princeton to participate in collaborative research projects, receive mentoring from faculty, and pursue their own academic and scholarly development through interaction with Princeton faculty, research staff, and student peers. The Visiting Student Research Collaborator (VSRC) status provides approved visiting graduate students with a recognized status at the University, allowing them to take advantage of a number of regular student benefits, including student health insurance, on-campus health care, e-mail accounts, library borrowing privileges, access to the gym and other campus facilities, and assistance from a number of offices, including the Graduate School, the Davis International Center, and campus and off-campus housing offices.

Description of VSRC Status

The following special rules apply to VSRCs:

  • VSRCs cannot enroll in courses for credit and do not receive a University transcript.
  • They may not hold an Assistant in Instruction (AI) appointment and may not engage in any other paid work on or off campus, beyond any Assistant in Research (AR) payment they may receive from their sponsoring faculty member and/or department. International VSRCs in F-1 and J-1 immigration status do not qualify for any off-campus work permission, such as Optional Practical Training (F-1 students) or Academic Training (J-1 students). Only students pursuing a degree at Princeton are allowed to apply for Optional Practical Training or Academic Training.
  • The standard cost-share rule for AR’s on research grants applies to VSRCs.
  • Students may remain in VSRC status from one month up to one calendar year (not more than 12 months). If, after 12 months, the sponsoring faculty member wants the student to continue, the student's status may be switched to Visiting Student and full tuition is charged. Note: New incoming faculty members who bring students with them to finish up at Princeton must use the status of Special Student (SPC), not VSRC.
  • The 12-month limit is cumulative. Students may make repeat visits for shorter periods of time but cannot exceed a cumulative 12 months in VSRC status. Exceptions to this restriction will be considered only in cases where extenuating circumstances, such as the unexpected failure of research equipment, or an illness or other personal emergency, have prevented the completion of research within the allotted period of time. (Petitions for extension should be addressed to Dean Cole Crittenden in the Graduate School.)

Host Department Eligibility

Because VSRCs receive University services, and because staff support and other resources are limited, it is necessary to cap the total number of VSRCs within a given year. This cap is set at 10% of a given department’s approved enrollment size, counted in cumulative months, over the course of a calendar year.

For example, if a department is approved to enroll ten degree-seeking graduate students, it may host one or more VSRCs for a total of 12 months. This might be one VSRC for a full calendar year, two VSRCs for six months each, etc. (A department with 20 enrolled graduate students would have 24 VSRC months to allocate over the course of a year.) Departments are asked to “budget” their VSRC months accordingly and to develop their own systems for balancing available VSRC months among individual faculty or research groups.

For departments and programs that do not admit and enroll degree-seeking graduate students but do have tenured or tenure-track faculty lines for faculty approved to advise graduate students, the cap on VSRC enrollment is set at one annual VSRC slot of 12 months’ enrollment, counted in cumulative months, for every four full faculty FTEs in that department or program.  For departments or program with less than four full FTEs, at least one VSRC slot is allowed.

Only regular faculty members are permitted to serve as VSRC faculty sponsors. (Post-docs, visiting faculty, emeriti/ae, associate research scholars and professional specialists are not permitted to sponsor VSRCs.)

VSRC Applications

Visiting Student Research Collaborators must submit an application directly to the Graduate School. Please refer to the Graduate School for application details.