Home / Academics / Non-Degree Programs / Visitor Classifications
There are several types of appointments for non-degree visiting students. These include:
- Special Student - Special Students are visiting students who are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program elsewhere and require academic transfer credit from Caltech, and/or who will be paid a stipend through the Caltech payroll system. Special Student appointments are granted for a minimum of one term to one year, renewable each year up to a maximum of three years. Special Students are eligible for Caltech benefits as defined by their enrollment status. Special Students who receive a stipend will also receive tuition and fees coverage and tuition remission will be charged to the grant. Special Students who do not receive a Caltech stipend will be responsible for paying the minimum tuition and fees assessment (rates vary each year, but are the equivalent to three units of tuition). Special Students are expected to adhere to Caltech's vaccination and booster policy and provide proof of insurance if they choose to opt out of Caltech's benefit plans.
- Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) - The Visiting Student Researcher (VSR) status is intended for non-Caltech graduate students to participate in a short-term research opportunity at the invitation of a Caltech faculty member. This status is limited to visits of no less than one month to no more than one year, with no extensions. A VSR is not eligible to receive academic credit, cannot be paid a stipend through Caltech's payroll, is not benefit-eligible, and does not have an official "academic" standing at Caltech. VSR's may, however, be reimbursed for research-related expenses. Examples of research-related expenses include travel and equipment, but not lodging, meals, per-diem or other expenses related to the cost of living in Pasadena. VSR's are expected to adhere to Caltech's vaccination and booster policy and will be asked to provide proof of insurance for the duration of the visit.
- Exchange Programs - Some academic options and divisions have official exchange programs. Exchange participants must have a visiting student appointment (Special Student or VSR) and the type of appointment will depend on the agreement negotiated for that exchange program. These programs are administered by the academic option or division.
- JPL/Caltech Staff Education - Employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Caltech can take graduate-level courses for credit, which can be transferred to another college or university. Courses taken under the staff education program carry tuition charges and cannot be applied towards a Caltech degree. The application form can be downloaded here.
All visitors are subject to all Institute policies, including the Institute Sex- and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy. Violations of policy may affect a student's eligibility to continue in a visiting status at Caltech.
Other Visitor Appointments
- Visitors who hold advanced degrees are not eligible for the student category. These appointments are handled through the Academic Divisions and Human Resources.
- Postdoctoral visitor appointments are handled through the Academic Divisions and Postdoctoral Scholars Office.
- Undergraduate students visiting for a summer research program (SURF, VURP, WAVE, LIGO, Amgen, etc.) are handled through Student Faculty Programs. All other undergraduate visiting requests are handled through the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.
- Volunteers or visitors. These are unpaid appointments, but for liability purposes all visitors should be registered with the Institute. These are handled through the Academic Divisions and Human Resources.