Higher Learning Commission


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Program for Visiting Scholars and Interns

HLC offers internship opportunities to visiting scholars and graduate students for the following purposes:

  • To advance a particular research project by studying and analyzing data or reports submitted to HLC by its member institutions or peer reviewers.
  • To pursue a research question using HLC’s data and other resources.
  • To create resource materials for print or web-based publications designed to benefit member institutions or the higher education community.
  • To advance an approved independent research project submitted by a scholar or graduate student that will enhance scholarship and support the public good.

HLC offers its resources to approved scholars and interns with the understanding that they preserve the confidentiality of member institutions and all individuals associated with HLC and its institutional members. Furthermore, scholars and interns will avoid any conflicts of interest in developing their research design, pursuing research activities, and preparing materials for publication. (Please note: HLC does not share its data with any group or individual who is not approved in the capacity of visiting scholar or intern.)

An appointment as a visiting scholar or intern will be for a designated time period, which may be extended upon mutual agreement between the scholar or intern and HLC.

Affiliation with HLC as a visiting scholar or intern does not constitute employment by HLC, nor does the visiting scholar or intern represent HLC in any way. HLC expects approved scholars and interns to maintain high ethical standards and integrity, high professional standards of practice and workplace activity, and excellent communication with their contact person at HLC.

Selection Process

HLC may choose to limit the number of visiting scholars or interns at any time depending on the capacity and resources of HLC and the suitability of the research project proposed. A committee of staff will determine eligibility for the program and review applications. Individuals who apply will be notified within four weeks if their application has been accepted. HLC reserves the right to deny acceptance into its program for visiting scholars and interns without explanation.

Visiting Scholars

Applicants for visiting scholars may include faculty at all academic levels, administrators, graduate students at an advanced stage of their academic program, and independent scholars. Visiting scholars may be independent researchers who are not affiliated with an HLC member institution. When space or time is limited, preference for available research appointments will be given to faculty who are on continuing appointments at member institutions. HLC will have no more than two visiting scholars on site. Applicants may apply to work at HLC’s Chicago offices, or off-site, with limited access to HLC materials.


To apply, individuals should send a letter to HLC outlining the proposed research project and its relationship to HLC resources. Applicants should also indicate the time period of the project and whether an on-site appointment is being sought.

A formal project description is also required and should contain a proposed research design, questions, and methodology for collecting or using data, including a statement about the scope of the research and its intended outcomes. In addition, the applicant should address the following elements:

  • If individuals will be surveyed or polled (e.g., members of the Peer Corps), identify the specific population and provide a sample of the survey instrument.
  • In situations where Institutional Review Board approval is required by the scholar’s home institution, provide evidence of consent in advance of initiating any research activity at HLC.
  • If restricted or sensitive data will be evaluated, indicate how this material will be preserved and safeguarded, and describe how data and materials will be stored in the future to assure continued confidentiality of materials collected from the project.
  • If external funding will be pursued:
    • Explain how the funding structure will be administered and whether any external requirements would be placed on HLC, especially if it were to be named as a “participant” in the study.
    • Identify who will be responsible for allocating research funds and who will be responsible for reconciling all budgets at the conclusion of the project.

Proposals should be accompanied by a curriculum vitae and the names of three references, one of whom must be the applicant’s immediate supervisor.

HLC may seek additional information before making a formal decision. Please note that visiting scholars receive no compensation.


Internships for graduate students are available during the summer and the academic year, and typically involve projects that focus on one or more of HLC’s priorities. Previous internship topics have included dual credit, Evaluation of the Open Pathway Pioneers, and the Assessment of Student Learning. The duration for most internship projects is eight to 15 weeks, although these periods can vary depending upon the assignment(s) for each project.

Once or twice a year HLC will post on its website a call for applications for available internship positions open to advanced graduate students. Preference is given to applicants attending HLC member institutions. Unsolicited proposals may be considered if they are accompanied by a supportive nomination or address a compelling and timely interest with respect to higher education and public policy research.

Internships may be full-time or part-time and are always temporary. HLC determines the particular work assignments and intended outcomes expected during the internship period and will try to accommodate an applicant’s related academic interests. The intern’s work assignments are designed to create opportunities to learn about trends affecting higher education, the role of accreditation, social science research, and public policy.


The application requires a cover letter outlining the applicant’s interest in the research project and aptitude to address the work assignments identified. In addition, applicants will be expected to furnish an academic transcript and current curriculum vitae, along with the names of three references. At least two references must be faculty members, with one from the student’s current academic program.

Internships offer a stipend (no benefits are provided). The stipend will be based upon the duration and complexity of the assignment. Interns must be available to work at HLC's office in Chicago and potentially at off-site locations for brief periods. Interns will be assigned an HLC supervisor and may also be assigned a mentor. If the student will be earning course credit for the internship, the home institution must also assign a supervisor who also must be one of the referees indicated above.

Additional Considerations

All visiting scholars and interns will be expected to sign a confidentiality agreement and a conflict of interest statement, in addition to a letter confirming the terms of the appointment. For scholars and interns working at HLC's office in Chicago, the letter will also outline additional expectations connected to typical office procedures and the work environment maintained by HLC.

Work Environment

HLC employs approximately 50 staff members and is located at 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois. Interns and visiting scholars will be provided with temporary security badges for convenient access to the office suite, where space and equipment will be provided exclusively for use on HLC projects. Access to specific HLC databases and other types of information are determined on a case-by-case basis.



Submit an Application


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