Visiting International Scholars (VIS) Program

About the program

The Visiting International Scholars (VIS) program was created more than a decade ago for academics and professional journalists and other communicators who wish to spend at least a semester, but usually a year, in the school and the University. Participants learn a great deal not only about their specialty in mass communication but also about U.S. culture by living in Chapel Hill. For a number of participants, the program brings them to the United States for the first time. 

Associate Professor Suman Lee is the faculty director for the program. About 20-30 participants are in the program at any one time. Traditionally, most come from China and Korea, but other areas of the world have been represented as well, including Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. The program is open to people from any country.

Application process

DEADLINE: Feb. 1 (August start date) or July 1 (January start date)

To apply, you must complete the school’s application form, which includes a statement of purpose (why you wish to come to the school and what your goals are) and attaching a resume. Late applications will not be reviewed.

 

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Applicants must read the FAQs before submitting an application.

Program fee

A fee of $2,500 per semester is required for all participants.

After a person has been accepted into the program, the fee must be paid in U.S. dollars no later than two-weeks after your official start-date to allow you time to set up a U.S. bank account. It can be paid beforehand via wire transfer. MJ-school staff will provide further instructions once you are ready to pay the fee.

Please note that this is a program fee, not tuition. Indeed, the word tuition cannot be used in a person’s application or in a letter from a sponsor. Tuition is what enrolled students pay to be students and receive academic credit. A Visiting International Scholar is not an enrolled student and receives no academic credit. He or she sits in on classes informally as a guest as long as the professor agrees, and that is usually the case.

Scholars must meet the funding requirements set by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services listed in FAQs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Academics or professionals in the field of media and journalism are welcome to apply to the program. Applicants must be working in area that is related to subjects taught or researched in the school.

The VIS program offers no academic credit whatsoever. Participants do not officially enroll in classes (and thus pay no tuition or other similar costs) or officialy sign up to audit classes . Instead, they sit in on classes in the school informally as long as the instructors agree. Participants should be prepared to participate in class discussion and can even complete assignments as long as this is discussed with the instructor.

The U.S. government requires that an applicant show that he or she has at least $2,000 a month for support. If a dependent (spouse or child) comes as well, an additional $800 a month is required. If a second dependent comes, an additional $400 a month is required. The same amount is required for each additional dependent. The school provides no funds for participants.

The U.S. Department of State requires that all participants in such visiting programs document their proficiency in the English language.

You must provide such documentation in one of these ways:

  1. Pass a recognized English language test within the last two years – must minimally include speaking and listening; with preferably speaking, listening, reading and writing
    • TOEFL – Minimum score of 65
    • IELTS – Minimum score of 6
    • CEFR – Minimum score of B2
    • Language Testing International – Minimum score of intermediate mid
    • TOEIC – Minimum score of 650 Other English language tests or certifications from English language training programs outside of English-speaking countries will not be accepted.
      We recommend Language Testing International if you have not previously taken an approved English test.
  2. Evidence the visitor has completed a bachelor’s or graduate degree within the past 10 years at a recognized institution of higher learning in the United States or a country where the language of instruction is English.
    • For U.S. degrees, a diploma or transcript indicating degree conferred
    • For non-U.S. institutions, a transcript in English showing degree conferred. If transcript does not note English as the language of instruction, an official letter from the institution’s registrar confirming the visitor attended the institution and the medium of instruction was English must be submitted as well.
  3. Evidence the visitor, within the last five years, has taught at an accredited U.S. school, international school or a school where language of instruction is English. If the school is not in the United States or in an English language-speaking country, the school would need to provide documentation.
  4. Evidence the visitor is a citizen or lawful permanent residency holder of a country where the official language is English as documented by a passport or LPR card.
  5. Evidence that, within the past five years, the visitor has been employed for at least two years by a firm that conducts business exclusively in English. Employer would need to provide documentation.

The program is designed for a cohort of scholars to begin every semester. We offer start dates every August (around Aug. 15) and every January (around Jan. 7). There is very little flexibility on the start dates for scholars. Applicants should plan accordingly in order to meet any guidelines set by their employers or funding organizations.

It is important that participants arrive in Chapel Hill in time to begin their programs with the opening of a semester. That is, arriving here in July or the very first days of August to begin a fall semester (which begins about mid-August) OR arriving here in late December to begin a spring semester (which begins in early January).

Arriving after a semester has begun is not wise because we have orientation sessions at the beginning of a semester and participants usually sit in on classes (which begin at the beginning of a semester). Moreover, finding housing is much easier for the beginning of a semester.

Scholars will receive their DS-2019 three to four months before their program start date. Please do not make travel arrangements until you have received your DS-2019.

Due to space, the school cannot offer scholars a work space, parking space or storage space in the school. Scholars have access to the libraries on campus, including the school's Park Library, online research and professional development resources, as well access to events and organizations in the school and on campus.

The VIS program organizes a Friday lecture for scholars to learn from various faculty members and community partners

Finding housing is the responsibility of each scholar. Scholars cannot live on campus. VIS staff are happy to provide a list of resources to help you find housing. In addition, please look at the UNC Office of International Student and Scholar Services page for housing resources and other tips on moving to Chapel Hill.

In addition to weekly lectures, scholars can conduct independent research using university resources, observe classes, connect with faculty and students, and attend numerous events in the school and the university.

 

For more information

For more information, please contact HussmanVIS@unc.edu.