Visiting Student Researchers

Visiting Student Researchers

Student happily tossing papers in air inside of UC Berkeley library

The following information is designed to provide tips and advice on how to make the most of your research experience at UC Berkeley. This page serves as the gateway to comprehensive and curated resources that are designed to meet your specific needs. Please be sure to review frequently throughout your time on campus. 


Visiting student researchers are ineligible to receive compensation. A living allowance and/or reimbursement for university-approved research expenses are allowable. 

University Holidays

The University observes 13 administrative holidays per year, which are listed in the academic calendar.  During these holidays, the campus is closed and building access and services are unavailable.


Visiting student researcher appointments are allowed for a maximum of one year. The opportunity for reappointment is determined by the faculty or department. Please work with your faculty sponsor and the department’s human resource business partner to explore this option.

Health Benefits

Review your health benefits coverage periodically to make sure the coverage you have is the best fit for your and your family’s needs, as they may change during the course of your appointment. The Visiting Scholar Benefit Plan provides month-to-month coverage, therefore, you may make changes to your plan at any time.

Career Development

Your affiliation affords you career and professional development opportunities designed to enhance and compliment your research experience at UC Berkeley. These include VSPA-sponsored workshops and events, as well a variety of events and resources across campus. Consult our Develop page to take advantage of career and professional development opportunities. 

Research Ethics and Compliance Training

All Visiting Student Researchers must complete the systemwide mandatory Foundational Skills training in the UC Learning Center within 90 days of onboarding and annually. These include Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment, Ethics, and Cybersecurity.

We encourage all visiting student researchers to review and complete training in Research and Compliance trainingIntellectual PropertyCITI Responsible Conduct of Research, and the Implicit Bias.

Safe Travel

In order to mitigate the risk when traveling, the VSPA recommends that all visiting student researchers be aware of domestic and international travel warnings and restrictions. When travelling, visiting student researchers are strongly encouraged to review and follow the security recommendations provided for domestic and international trips.

International scholars should inform the Berkeley International Office of any planned trips outside of the United States.

When traveling for professional conferences or conducting UCB business, please take note of university and State Department travel policies and responsibilities:

Conflict Management

We encourage you to check in regularly with your faculty supervisor for clear communication regarding work expectations and responsibilities. We encourage you to practice kindness toward yourself and your collaborators. Please review and adopt UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community during your time on campus.

The VSPA is also here to support you as you navigate conflicts. If you are experiencing an interpersonal concern or conflict, please contact the VSPA Director via email at for resources, referrals, and assistance. VSPA is a resource in the case of conflict.

Have Fun and Be Well

The VSPA values and prioritizes your well-being and we encourage you to do the same. You may be reluctant to take advantage of all the resources at UC Berkeley or the number of opportunities to engage may be overwhelming. However, we encourage you to maximize your time at UC Berkeley by participating in the social and networking events designed to integrate and welcome you into the Cal community. The VSPA is a great place to start exploring your options. Check the Resources pages for more information. 

We also encourage you to explore the special interest groups in the VSPA, so that you may connect with other individuals who share common identities and interests.

Resources for Parents

Please visit our Resources for Parents page to discover the great offerings available to you on campus and beyond.

Auditing a Course

Visiting student researchers with active VSPA appointments may audit a class on the UC Berkeley campus subject to the expressed permission of the class's instructor. It is advisable that scholars interested in auditing a course email the instructor before attending a class. Helpful information to provide in your email are your name, host department, faculty sponsor, your area of research and reason for wanting to audit the course. If you require accommodation assistance in order to audit a course, please contact our Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor/Disability Specialist, Mary Kelly, M.S., C.R.C., CPDM. Mary can be reached by email at, by phone at (510) 642-1914 or by confidential fax at (510) 642-6505.

For international scholars on a J-1 Research Visa: Guidance from the U.S. Department of State indicates that J-1 Research Scholars may only audit ONE class and that it is incidental or secondary to your primary program objective, which is your UC Berkeley research (the purpose for your appointment here). Furthermore, actual registration of a course is not permitted (enrolling as a registered student). If your primary objective is to take/enroll in classes for credit, you may need to be on a student visa instead of the J-1 Research visa. Contact the Berkeley International Office with any questions about the visa. You may also be required to enroll in UCB Extension now known as Berkeley Global and not under the VSR category. Registered UC students are not eligible for appointments in the VSR category