I am currently thinking about pursuing a public policy PhD after my MA is completed. One of my top target schools employs a visiting professor who has been at that university for the past several years. The main reason I wanted that particular professor is that his previous background included posts at several very high-ranking positions within the US government that I feel like would be helpful to me throughout my doctoral education and with the potential dissertation. But I'm worried that as a visiting professor, he'd make for a poor choice as a supervisor due to him being "visiting" instead of a more permanent professor at the school (is it?).

  • Are you sure he's still there? I'm not in anything near public policy, but a "several" year visiting professorship would be very odd. Two would be unusual, to me. Jun 3, 2020 at 4:28
  • Hm, not entirely sure. I still see him on the school's faculty roster, and he started his first year at the university in 2017. Jun 3, 2020 at 4:44
  • 4
    A visiting professor, especially a senior one, normally falls in one of two categories: (1) a short-term temporary position (the original meaning), or (2) an adjunct position with minor responsibilities in the department. None of these make for good supervisors.
    – xLeitix
    Jun 3, 2020 at 7:01
  • 1
    While I agree with the other comments and answers, you could consider collaborating with this professor even if you are supervised by another. That way you will get the benefits of his skills and experience too. Jun 3, 2020 at 7:57

2 Answers 2


Rules vary, but visiting professors should not be permitted to supervise PhD students because they are not employed for the duration of the supervision period. So while they might be skilled supervisors, they are not suitable supervisors.


Most universities have PhD candidature rules that require the primary supervisor to be a permanent faculty member of the university. Visiting professors can sometimes act as co-supervisors, but you would need a primary supervisor from your university. This is done to reduce the risk of supervisor-loss.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .