In the world of academia, a visiting scholar, visiting academic or visiting professor is a scholar from an institution who visits a host university, where he or she is projected to teach, lecture, or perform research on a topic the visitor is valued for. In many cases the position is not salaried because the scholar typically is salaried by his or her home institution, while some visiting positions are salaried. Typically, a position as visiting scholar is for a couple of months or even a year, though it can be extended. It is not unusual that host institutions provide accommodation for the visiting scholar. Typically, a visiting scholar is invited by the host institution. Being invited as a visiting scholar is often regarded as a significant accolade and recognition of the scholar's prominence in the field.
Other terms for visiting scholars include visiting researcher, visiting fellow and visiting lecturer. Sometimes "guest" is used instead of "visiting," e.g., guest professor.
Attracting prominent visiting scholars often allows the permanent faculty and graduate students to cooperate with prominent academics from other institutions, especially foreign ones.
The purpose of a visiting scholars programs is generally to bring to the school or educational institution in question an exceptional senior scholar who can contribute to and enrich the community's intellectual and research endeavors and international projection. Hence, in addition to conducting their own research, visitors are often expected to actively participate in a number of productive institutional activities, such as:
- Deliver a formal lecture to the host institution
- Engage in formal or informal discussions with graduate or postgraduate research students
- Undertake collaborative research with faculty or staff
- Contribute to the university's teaching by presenting guest lectures or faculty seminars
- Present a paper as part of the university's seminar program
- Distinguished visiting professor
- Professor, for a visiting professor, more specifically also visiting professor in the U.S.
- Research fellow, for a visiting researcher