Guidelines for Applicants to CAP Visiting Researchers and Scholars Program

General Information

The Child Advocacy Program (CAP) has a limited number of CAP-affiliated Visiting Researchers and Scholars.  To become CAP-affiliated, applicants must apply to become Visiting Researchers or Scholars through Harvard Law School’s (HLS’s) Graduate Program, and also apply to CAP for support for their admission to the Graduate Program.  CAP will make its decision based on the strength of the applicant’s background, and the congruence of the applicant’s interests with CAP’s focus.  If CAP decides to recommend the Applicant, it will provide the HLS faculty letter of support that the Graduate Program requires as part of its application process.  If the Graduate Program admits the applicant into its Visiting Researcher or Scholar programs, then the applicant will become a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher or Scholar.

Researchers and Scholars typically come from abroad and reside at HLS for one year. All applicants must be fluent in both written and spoken English.  CAP-affiliated Researchers and Scholars are accomplished researchers, scholars, and/or activists with a strong background in child and youth issues.

Applicants need to have a law degree that would qualify them to practice in their home country.  The Graduate Program minimum TOEFL requirement is a total score of 100 with scores of at least 25 in each of four subsections.  

Substantive Focus

CAP focuses primarily on a few substantive areas, and candidates seeking an affiliation with CAP should have an interest and expertise in child welfare issues (abuse & neglect, adoption, foster care), juvenile justice, or education.

Elizabeth Bartholet, CAP’s Faculty Director, focuses her work on adoption, child welfare, and reproductive technology. Mary Welstead, CAP Visiting Researchers and Scholars Program Coordinator, focuses on  international surrogacy, medical consent for children, forced marriage and other abusive issues specifically related to cultural values of immigrants, and children of same-sex parents and their rights on relationship breakdown.

Term of CAP Affiliation

CAP prefers that candidates plan to be in residence at HLS for one academic year, from September through May, but may support applications for candidates who plan to be here for only one term where good reason is provided.

Letter of Support

If you want to be a CAP-affiliated Researcher or Scholar, you must have a letter of support from CAP Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet.  To obtain this letter, please follow the procedures below.

Step 1:

Make a preliminary inquiry.

We will provide limited informal feedback on your proposal before you submit your full application to us.  If you want feedback, you should email to Mary Welstead at a very brief (1 paragraph) description of your research proposal and why you would like to be affiliated with CAP.

Step 2:

If Mary Welstead indicates that CAP might consider your proposal favorably, please send to CAP a copy of the application materials you intend to submit to the Graduate Program.  CAP will review these materials to determine if we are able to provide a letter of support on your behalf.

The materials required by the Graduate Program (which you should send to CAP) include:

  1. Online Application Form
  2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  3. Cover Letter
  4. Research Proposal
  5. Transcript(s)
  6. Two Letters of Recommendation (from people familiar with your work)
  7. Official TOEFL report (if applicable)

See the Application Timeline below for the relevant deadlines on when you must submit these materials to CAP.

Step 3:

CAP will review your application and may contact you if we have further questions about your proposal or your reasons for requesting a CAP affiliation.

If CAP decides to support your application, CAP Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet will provide a faculty letter of support on your behalf; this is a required element of the Graduate Program application.

Step 4:

The candidate submits his/her full application to the Graduate Program.  (All items CAP requires to draft your letter of support are also required by the Graduate Program; therefore, you will not need to perform any duplicate work.) Prospective CAP affiliates should thus carefully review the requirements and application materials from Harvard Law School’s Graduate Program.  

Application Timeline for 2020-2021 Academic Year



March 2, 2020 Candidates who hope to serve as CAP-affiliated Researchers or Scholars beginning in September 2020 should submit their applications for a letter of support to CAP at the latest by this date; early applications are appreciated.
March 16, 2020 CAP will notify candidates if we are willing to provide the faculty letter of support of their Graduate Program application.
April 13, 2020 Candidate submits his/her application to the Graduate Program.  CAP will also submit our faculty letter of support by this deadline.
June 2020 The Graduate Program provides application decisions.
September 2020 Researchers and Scholars admitted into the Graduate Program arrive on the HLS campus and meet CAP Faculty and staff.
May 2021 Researcher’s and Scholar’s term concludes.


In addition to the privileges conferred by the Graduate Program, Researchers and Scholars affiliated with CAP will be able to attend CAP events, audit CAP courses, and participate in CAP research and other projects.  Researchers and Scholars will also have the opportunity to participate in an informal working paper luncheon series with other Graduate Program students, and may have the opportunity to present their own work in this program to the CAP community.

CAP cannot provide Researchers and Scholars an on-campus office, regular use of computers or telephones, secretarial or other support staff, or financial support.


CAP does not provide any funding for Researchers or Scholars, and all Graduate Program fees and expenses will apply to CAP-affiliated Researchers and Scholars.  See the Graduate Program website for information on fees, as well as potential outside sources of funding. The Graduate Program estimates the cost for a single Visitor is at least $29,060 in living expenses for a 10 month period (not including Program and Activity Fees).  The costs will be higher for visitors with families.

Selection Criteria

In selecting Researcher or Scholar candidates for CAP affiliation and providing letters of support for the Graduate Program, CAP considers the applicant’s background, areas of interest, scholarly and other achievements, research proposal and its relevance to CAP’s existing priorities.  Moreover, CAP will consider our own capacity to support and provide advice and supervision to the applicant.

The Graduate Program makes final determinations on which candidates are admitted into the program.  A strong letter of support from CAP carries significant weight but the ultimate decision on admission will be made by the Graduate Program’s Selection Committee, a body completely independent from CAP.

Submitting Application Materials to CAP

If you are applying for a letter of support from CAP you should email your materials, if possible, to Mary Welstead, CAP Visiting Researchers and Scholars Program Coordinator, at

Alternatively, you can mail a hard copy of materials to:

Mary Welstead
c/o Child Advocacy Program
Harvard Law School
23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


All questions about becoming a CAP-affiliated Researcher or Scholar should be directed to CAP Visiting Researchers and Scholars Program Coordinator, Mary Welstead at