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Research Visitors

Northwestern University Visiting Scholar Plan (VSP)  is now offered by Cigna Studywell/Cigna Global Health Benefits and administered by Gallagher Benefit Services  (GBS), effective 1/1/2023.

A User Manual for the GBS portal is available on the Visiting Scholar webpage of the Risk Management website. For additional information, please contact Diane Sims at 888-441-3719 or email

Upcoming Change to the approval process for the Research Visitors Appointment Recommendation, to be announced soon.



Research Visitor includes the following titles:

  • Visiting Scholar
  • Visiting Research Collaborator
  • Visiting Pre-doctoral Fellow

The Office for Research advises and approves research appointments and hiring activities are coordinated by the schools and units.
All Research Visitor appointments are initiated through the Research Visitor Appointment Recommendation Form and given final approval by the Office for Research (OR). Research Administrative Services coordinates the intake, screening with OECC-and Office for Export Controls Compliance and review.
No oral or written offer of appointment may be extended until all required approvals have been received, and no payroll action initiating the appointment can be taken until all conditions in the appointment process have been satisfied.


After all required signatures are obtained at the department/division/center and school level, submit the following items to the Office for Research for review and approval at

  • Recommendation form (pages 1-2)
  • Visitor’s current CV
  • Sponsoring Entity Letter
  • Visiting Scholar Health Insurance Application/Waiver, required before the visitor’s start date.


If you have any questions on the Research Visitors Policy and appointment process,
contact Research Administrative Services:
847-491-3327 | and

If you have any questions on the Research Visitors Policy, you may send an e-mail to
Barbara Beeuwsaert,, coordinates the intake, screening with OECC-and Office for Export Controls Compliance.


The initiating school or center must ensure that the Research Visitor appointment has been reviewed and approved in accordance with the relevant department, school and or center procedures. In addition, the Principal Investigator (PI), initiating school or center is responsible for:

  1. Informing the Research Visitor that he/she is subject to all Northwestern University policies;
  2. Providing the Research Visitor with a copy of the Research Visitors Policy;
  3. Notifying the Research Visitor of the Policy on Reporting Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect and acknowledge their status as a Mandated Reporter;
  4. Ensuring the Research Visitor completes Northwestern’s Preventing Sexual Misconduct and Sex Discrimination online course;
  5. Confirming with Risk Management that the Research Visitor and any accompanying family members have adequate medical insurance coverage during the period of appointment;
  6. Directing the Research Visitor to complete the Visitor and Volunteer Lab Agreement form;
  7. Providing proper oversight to the Research Visitor, registering the Research Visitor to Laboratory Research Safety Profile (LUMEN), and assuring completion of the requisite training expected of all lab scientists for that lab at Northwestern;
  8. Notifying the Institutional Review Board Office and Institutional Committee on Animal Use and Care Office if the visitor’s research will involve working with human and/or animal subjects. Policies and training are applicable to Research Visitors engaged in research utilizing human participants or animals in research.


Visiting Research Collaborator

An individual who may periodically visit Northwestern in order to learn research techniques, use specialized facilities and/or collaborate with Northwestern faculty. A Visiting Research Collaborator must have current, paid employment at the start-up company of an existing Northwestern faculty member. A Visiting Research Collaborator cannot simultaneously have Northwestern faculty, staff or student status. Visiting Researcher Collaborators are appointed for only one year at a time and must show documentation of paid employment at the time of initial appointment. These appointments are renewable; the Visiting Research Collaborator must provide updated documentation of paid employment at the Northwestern faculty start-up company prior to each reappointment.

Visiting Pre-doctoral Fellow

An individual who is a current doctoral degree-seeking graduate student from another institution who is studying at Northwestern for a short period, working with faculty to learn research techniques or to use specialized facilities. Visiting Pre-doctoral Fellows are not employed or paid a salary by Northwestern, nor do they have Northwestern student status. In some cases, a Living Allowance may be provided.

Living Allowance

Funds provided to a Research Visitor to assist in covering the cost of living while resident at Northwestern University during the Research Visitor appointment. A Living Allowance is never tied to services rendered to Northwestern and is usually paid from non-restricted funds. A Living Allowance may be paid from restricted funding only when explicitly allowed by the sponsor or donor.

Sponsoring Entity Letter

A written statement on official letterhead from appointee’s sponsoring institution that confirms, 1) the appointee’s status per the institution (i.e. employed, retired, etc.) and 2) the intention of sponsorship throughout the duration of the specified appointment period. The letter should include the name and contact information of an individual from the sponsoring institution who can be contacted for verification.