Visitor categories include the following:
Visiting Scholars are established in their field and possesses a Ph.D. or its equivalent. Visiting Scholars are expected to provide their own funding to support their stay. They are not enrolled in a degree program elsewhere. Generally, visitors stay for a maximum of one year.
The Postdoctoral Fellow title is used for those who join the MIT community soon after receiving their doctorate. Working under the supervision of MIT faculty members, postdoctoral fellows come to MIT to develop their scholarly competence.
Postdoctoral Fellows receive financial support in the form of a fellowship or stipend, usually from an outside agency, either directly or distributed through MIT on behalf of the sponsor. Typically, fellows are responsible for applying for a fellowship award. Funds for postdoctoral fellowships are provided from a variety of sources, including private donors, foundations, corporations, and government agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Length of stay varies depending on area of interest and individual circumstances. Since the postdoctoral position is not intended to be long-term, MIT limits the postdoctoral period to four years, with promotion to the rank of senior postdoctoral associate possible after three years. Extension for a fifth year or promotion to research scientist requires a dean’s or VPR approval.
Visiting Student status is available to qualified students enrolled in a PhD program at another university. Normally, such Visiting Students are engaged in their dissertation research or are writing their dissertations. Visiting Students must be at MIT for at least three weeks and no longer than one year.
Federal regulation requires foreign Visiting Students to show financial support from a university or other institution covering at least half of the cost of their stay in order to be issued a "Certificate of Eligibility" for the J-1 visa. In other words, more than 50% of funding must come from a source other than personal or family. The Visiting Student category is very competitive, so it is important to get your application in before the deadline.
Special Students are Visiting Students who wish to receive academic credit for courses taken at MIT. They need to apply for the status of "Special Student." Please note that Special Students are charged tuition fees. For more information, please visit http://web.mit.edu/professional/advanced-study/ or http://web.mit.edu/admissions/graduate/special.html
Students from the following universities: Berkeley, Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, Yale can visit as part of an exchange program. More information is available here.