Visiting Scholars

Come Share Your Knowledge

Our lives today are characterized by connectivity and globalization. It is part of George Mason University's commitment to creating a more just, free, and prosperous world that guides our Visiting Scholar Program. 

We provide scholars with the opportunity to take part in the academic community, to learn more about us, and to share their own perspectives with us. It is through this encouragement of global interaction that great understandings and respect can result in long lasting collegiality, which benefits us all, and continues to make us all scholars for the world.

flags hanging in the George Mason University Johnson Center
International flags displayed in the Johnson Center on the Fairfax Campus.

Who Can Be a Visiting Scholar?

The College of Visual and Performing Arts welcomes Visiting Scholar inquiries from our neighbors and friends around the globe.

Interested Visiting Scholars can expect to have a comprehensive experience in the academic, professional, and community activities of CVPA. Qualified scholars are invited by our Dean, Rick Davis, after one of our academic programs and our Associate Dean's office review the Visiting Scholar’s request to join the College for a semester or academic year. All requested items assist in determining if CVPA is a good fit for the scholar; at what level the scholar performs, or presents work; and how to plan a meaningful experience during the visit.

To be a Visiting Scholar, you will need to have an advanced degree, a proposed plan of study or research, and be sponsored by a faculty member. The person applying for a Visiting Scholar position will be responsible for managing her/his immigration documentation with assistance from George Mason and CVPA. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service ( requires that the following basic living expenses (excluding health insurance) must be covered:

  • $1,700 per month for J-1 visa holder with no dependents
  • $600 additional per month for spouse (J-2 visa holder)
  • $400 additional per month for each child (J-2 visa holder)

In addition, the Visitor regulations specify a minimum level of health insurance coverage:

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  • Exchange Visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.



Contact Information

Dr. Kristin Johnsen-Neshati
Assistant Dean for International Programs & Critical Studies
College of Visual & Performing Arts, MSN 3E6
George Mason University, VA 22030-4444

Request Procedures

1. Notification of all Visiting Scholar requests goes to Dr. Johnsen-Neshati, Assistant Dean for International Programs & Critical Studies. The following are required as part of the request:

  • Demonstration of work: video, website, or some other type of digital communication that presents artistic work and demonstrates proficiency in their area of interest.
  • Faculty recommendation: If the applicant for the Visiting Scholar position has had previous interactions with one of our faculty members, we request a recommendation from the CVPA faculty member. This letter should describe the potential scholarly exchanges and the level of the applicant's current English communication skills.
  • Visiting scholar plan: Each Visiting Scholar needs a complete description of responsibilities, activities, or performances, which defines the benefits to both the Scholar and to CVPA.
  • Additional requirements: Individual CVPA programs may have additional Visiting Scholar participation requirements that would be included in the Scholar's plan. After the Scholar arrives, the plan may be adjusted, but a final agreement for each semester must be submitted to Dr. Johnsen-Neshati, before any activity starts.
  • Interview: CVPA will request an interview, either through Skype or the phone, to ask questions and to discover interests of study.
  • Proof of English proficiency: Applicants can demonstrate English proficiency by submitting scores from an approved test, such as TOEFL, IELTS, Pearson, or the GRE. Tests administered by one’s home country are not acceptable.

2. After approval of the request, an invitation from Dean Davis is sent to the scholar.

  • Some government agencies may have to approve the Visiting Scholar’s attendance at George Mason; this is especially true for any applications from China.
  • Please note that Visiting Scholars attend George Mason and live in the vicinity at their own expense; they are responsible for all costs, including language tutoring, if needed.

3. A J-1 visa for the Exchange Visitor Program will be necessary for your approved visit. Once your visit has been approved by CVPA, a request of your J-1 visa paperwork (DS-2019) will be made by CVPA to the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS).

  • OIPS handles the processing of visa paperwork for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, and all required federal paperwork. The time frame for processing paperwork varies from case to case.
  • Dr. Johnsen-Neshati, works closely with this office to ensure adherence to regulations and protocol.
  • After the package is sent to the scholar, he or she is responsible for arranging a visa interview in the United States.

4. Upon arrival to campus, the Visiting Scholar must schedule a visit with Dr. Johnsen-Neshati to go over the approved Visiting Scholar Plan.

  • If a Visiting Scholar would like to have private lessons in the arts, this request will be processed through the Mason Community Arts Academy, and the Scholar will pay for the lessons.

The internal George Mason procedures take time and energy. Dr. Johnsen-Neshati serves as a facilitator among the multiple steps in the process; therefore, she needs to be notified about each Visiting Scholar request.

Required Documents Checklist

  1. Copy of Passport ID page for scholar and all accompanying dependents
  2. Copy of financial support documentation (e.g., personal bank statement or letter from company, university, or home country stating financial support).
  3. Résumé/Curriculum Vitae
  4. Electronic Submission of Work
  5. Visiting Scholar Plan and/or Research Proposal
  6. Copy of highest diploma earned
  7. If already living in the United States, copy of immigration documents and current visa.
  8. Letter of Recommendation from George Mason Faculty Sponsor (to be sent to Dr. Johnsen-Neshati, directly from recommender).
  9. Proof of English Proficiency

Materials should be submitted by email all at once to Dr. Johnson-Neshati. For questions or concerns, please contact Dr. Johnsen-Neshati.

English Proficiency Disclaimer

If applicants do not have a test score to submit to demonstrate English proficiency, their intended home department must schedule an interview for them prior to agreement to host the scholar and submit the transcript to OIPS. If the visiting scholar cannot demonstrate basic proficiency upon arrival, then OIPS reserves the right to terminate the scholar’s visa.