Visiting Graduate Researcher and Non-Degree Objective Student Comparison


Visiting Graduate Researcher (VGR)

Non-Degree Objective (NDO) Student


A graduate student who is currently enrolled in a degree program at their domestic or international home institution and wishes to visit UCLA to pursue short-term master’s or doctoral research with a UCLA faculty member or participate in a prescribed course of study:

  • mentored or independent research projects
  • research collaborations
  • work, training or experience related directly to a student’s field of study

VGRs must be advanced to candidacy or equivalent at his or her home institution to conduct doctoral dissertation research.

Complete definition/eligibility information is available online.

“UCLA has no special limited or unclassified categories of graduate admission. Under some circumstances, however, applicants may be admitted for coursework without a degree objective. For example, teachers with a master’s degree who wish some refresher study, or international students on a year’s stay in the U.S., may wish to apply in this manner. Requirements for admission are the same as those for degree programs, and the academic program must agree to accept the student for the no degree objective (NDO) status. All admission to NDO status must be specially approved by the dean of the Graduate Division, as must any University financial assistance for students on NDO status.” UCLA General Catalog

Application Process

VGRs are sponsored by UCLA faculty who are members of the Academic Senate (i.e., eligible to mentor doctoral students). The faculty member and the UCLA department are responsible for facilitating the appointment and initiating the application process. Complete application instructions are available online.

NDOs apply through the UCLA Application for Graduate Admission. The applicant must meet UCLA and department/program-specific graduate admission requirements and be admitted by department and the Graduate Division. NDO status in the summer requires faculty mentor approval, if research is involved, along with departmental and Graduate Division approval.

Access to Courses

VGRs are not UCLA students and do not qualify to take UCLA courses directly. Instead, they may register for University Extension (UNEX) courses and/or for UCLA courses via concurrent UNEX enrollment only. Concurrent enrollment must be approved by the instructor.

May enroll in one or more UCLA courses directly and have the work documented on a UCLA transcript. Work is non-transferrable into UCLA advanced degree programs.

Period of Visitation

Three weeks to one year. Appointment is renewable for a second year.

One quarter to a maximum of 24 months (federal visa policy). Visitations must coincide with the academic calendar.


See the campus fee schedule.

Graduate student annual fees.