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A student in the Visiting Graduate Student Program (VGS) working in the lab


The Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences provides advanced scientific training for a graduate student pursuing a predoctoral (Ph.D.) or master’s degree at another U.S. or international academic institution in biomedical research. The primary purpose of a Visiting Graduate Student (VGS) appointment is to provide training to fulfill educational objectives and research experience supporting their home program degree requirements.

Program timeframe

The VGS is a long-term research experience to allow the student the opportunity to complete the research portion of their degree requirements at Mayo. The program is a minimum of six months and a maximum of five years.

It is expected that the required coursework has been completed prior to the start of the research experience. If any coursework remains, it must not interfere with the research experience.


To be eligible for this program, an applicant must:

  • Be currently enrolled in a predoctoral (Ph.D.) or master's degree program at another academic institution in biomedical research
  • Have a research project to complete at Mayo Clinic for which they will receive credit towards degree completion
  • Have an interest in biomedical research as a career

Program success measurements

Candidates will gain valuable experience in the lab and work closely with a Mayo Clinic scientist-mentor on a research project designed specifically to meet the graduation requirements of the candidate’s host institution. 

Mayo Clinic sponsor selection process

Interested applicants can identify labs of interest and reach out directly to a Mayo investigator, stating their interest in the research of the laboratory and inquiring about opportunities. These are based on the current availability of space and resources. Most positions are found this way. 

Mayo Clinic staff do not assist the VGS in seeking an appropriate faculty sponsor.

The VGS sponsor must have graduate faculty privileges that align with the level of degree program the VGS is currently in (master’s or full for Ph.D.). The request for faculty privileges must be in process at the time of application.

See a list of all Mayo Clinic research faculty, as well as this list of faculty with Full Graduate Privileges eligible to host VGS Ph.D. students.


Interested students must apply online via the Recruit Application System. The link is provided to applicants by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science Visitor Office after initial eligibility is determined.

Application requirements:

  • Current resume 
  • Cover letter including statement of research interest (1-2 sentences) and reference to graduation requirements to be satisfied with completion of the experience for which you will receive credit towards degree completion
  • Current transcript; unofficial transcripts will be accepted 
  • Letter from Mayo Clinic sponsor on department letterhead 
  • Letter from home academic institution on university letterhead
  • Must include reference to objectives required of the experience to meet graduation requirements
  • Mayo Clinic English language proficiency attestation

Applications are accepted on a rolling admissions basis. After acceptance, the start date is arranged between the student and the sponsor.

Frequently asked questions

Program FAQs

Q:  Is the VGS program available at all three Mayo campuses?
A: Yes, the VGS is offered on all three campuses. Learn more about the Mayo Clinic campuses and communities.

Q: How long are VGS appointments?
A: Ph.D. or master’s degree student appointments are for a minimum of six months up to five years.  VGS appointments for less than six months or over three years are an exception to policy and require Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Academic Affairs Committee approval.  International student appointments cannot exceed five years due to visa restrictions. 

Q: Can a VGS appointment be extended?
A: If for any reason a student is unable to complete the degree requirements within the designated VGS appointment, an extension may be requested by the Mayo sponsor. International student extensions are contingent on visa requirements. Requests must include a summary of the student's performance, what has been completed towards their degree requirements, and what remains to be completed that requires the extension. Requests require approval by the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Academic Affairs Committee.

Q: Are VGS considered a Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student?
A: No, students are not appointed into the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. or master's degree programs. They remain an enrolled student at their home university where their degree is conferred.

Q: Does the VGS receive benefits?
A: No. However, international students must provide proof of funding that at least matches a traditional Mayo Clinic Ph.D. student stipend. For 2023-2024, the stipend amount is $38,434 per year. International students must be supported by one of the following:

  • External scholarship at least equal to the current Mayo Clinic graduate student stipend.
  • Funding from Mayo sponsor at least equal to the current Mayo Clinic graduate student stipend. International VGS cannot be supported by federal grants.
  • External scholarship supplemented by funding from Mayo sponsor at least equal to current Mayo graduate student stipend.
  • Personal funding may be used for a small percentage of the stipend.

Q: Is medical insurance available?
A: No. However, proof of medical insurance is required for international and U.S. students.  Resources will be provided for assistance in obtaining appropriate medical insurance.

Q: Is housing available?
A: There are no on-site housing/dorms. Housing resources may be provided, and the student must arrange housing. 

Q: Do VGS have Mayo Clinic parking privileges?
A: Yes. VGS students have parking privileges similar to Mayo Clinic Ph.D. students.

Applications FAQs

Q: Who qualifies as a VGS?
A: International or U.S. graduate student pursuing a predoctoral (Ph.D.) or master’s degree at another academic institution in biomedical research, has completed all core coursework (encouraged), and is in the research phase of their training.

Q: Can a student enrolled in a Ph.D. or master’s degree program at another institution be appointed to a different role at Mayo Clinic besides the VGS?
A: If the student is coming to Mayo Clinic to complete research for which they will obtain credit towards their Ph.D. or master’s degree, the VGS appointment must be used.  If the experience is being requested for employment vs. meeting degree requirements, another appointment type within human resources may be possible. 

Q: Can the VGS appointment be used when a newly hired Mayo Clinic investigator wishes to bring students with them from their prior institution?
A: If the students remain enrolled in a master’s or Ph.D. program at the new Mayo hire’s prior institution, they would be eligible for the VGS appointment. Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences policy does not allow transfer students into our master’s and Ph.D. degree programs. 

Q: How long does the process take to appoint a VGS?
A: A minimum of two months' notice is required to process a U.S. student appointment, and four months' notice to process an international student appointment.

Q: How does a VGS candidate get the process started?
A: The VGS should identify labs of interest and reach out directly to a Mayo sponsor or investigator to express their interest in their research and the VGS opportunity.

Q: What type of visa is required for an international student?
A: International VGS are sponsored by Mayo Clinic in the J-1 Research Scholar category. This category allows a maximum of five years, although typically only three years are needed for a VGS to complete their education requirements. Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers assistance in obtaining the DS2019/visa. Students and Mayo sponsors should be aware that departing the U.S. (completion of program) will bar them from returning in the same research scholar visa category (including as a postdoctoral fellow) for two years. Transfer to a postdoctoral fellow without a break in between will be possible, but time in both categories will count toward the five-year maximum.

Q: Who does the onboarding process for VGS?
A: The application and onboarding process is managed by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science Visitor Office. Information is emailed to the student prior to the start date with information including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Onboarding requirements, e.g., background check, immunizations, etc.
  • Parking day one and thereafter
  • Getting an ID badge (where to go and when)
  • Dress and decorum policy
  • Instruction given to connect with Mayo sponsor for details when and where to meet day one (after photo taken)
  • Temporary housing options (if permanent arrangements have not yet been made)

Sponsor FAQs

Q: Who can sponsor a VGS?
A: A Mayo Clinic faculty member who has or is eligible to obtain Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences graduate faculty privileges and has the capacity to host and mentor a VGS. They may already be a member of the student’s thesis advisory committee or in a comparable role.