Postdoctoral Information

Definition of Postdoc

A postdoctoral appointee is a person who has recently earned a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent doctoral degree, and who joins the University of Pennsylvania to perform research full-time under the supervision of a member of the faculty. The position can be held for up to five years irrespective of institution and is meant to provide additional research and/or scholarly training in preparation for a position in academe, industry, or government.

There are three types of postdoctoral appointees:

  • Postdoctoral Researcher is an appointee funded by the University or Research funds.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow is an appointee funded by non-profit organization.
  • NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow is an appointee funded by training grant or fellowship

Initial Appointment

When you wish to officially offer a postdoctoral position, please provide to the Administrative Office:

  1. The candidate's CV, which should include their mailing and e-mail addresses.
  2. Proof of doctoral degree (A letter from the registrar's office or a copy of the diploma).
  3. For the Administrative Office to prepare the appointment letter, they will need the funding source, salary, if family health insurance will be provided (single health insurance is assumed) and a sentence or two about their project. A sample letter is below with the places where this information is needed is highlighted. You can simply write this information on this letter and hand it to the Administrative Office. The form letter is available on the Postdoctoral Programs Office forms   site. The Administrative Office will print the letter on departmental stationery and place it in your mailbox for your approval (or edits) and signature. Return the letter to the Administrative Office and they will then mail or fax the letter to the new postdoc.

For this process to go smoothly, please try to get this information to the Administrative Office at least one month (citizens) prior and preferably four months (foreign nationals) to start date.

Those faculty who have assistants please have your assistant bring the letter and all accompanying paperwork to the Administrative Office.

Appointment Letters

All postdoctoral appointments must have prior approval of the Administrative Office. Prior to making an offer, proof of doctoral degree and the candidate's CV must be provided to the Administrative Office.

Stipend Levels

Postdocs' stipends should be increased at their yearly reappointment. If they are on a training grant, the stipend charged to the grant should remain the same but the increase should be charged to the mentor's grant as additional compensation.

Transferring Postdocs

When transferring Postdocs within Penn, their original paperwork should be requested form the previous department. If the original paperwork cannot be obtained, the candidate must complete the new hire packet.


Please see the University of Pennsylvania Comptroller's Website  on this matter.

Postdoctoral Reappointments and Terminations


    The Administrative Office will contact the PI by email within 90 days of a reappointment for a postdoc. Please respond to the email stating changes to appointment e.g. salary, funding source, etc. If there are no changes, excluding salary, please note. All postdoctoral salaries are increased at time of reappointment. At which time a draft reappointment letter will be prepared for your approval. Once the letter is approved it will be printed on letterhead and placed in your mailbox for signature. The letter must be returned to the Administrative Office by the date specified so the postdoc salary can continue.


    The existing University-wide Postdoc Policy stipulates that the mentor can only terminate postdoctoral appointments with three months written notice. This protects the Postdoc from unfair dismissal. However, rare circumstances may arise where immediate dismissal is appropriate. The following addition to the Postdoctoral Policy as it applies to School of Medicine postdoctoral appointees has been adopted:

    Gross violations of postdoctoral obligations as indicated in the Policy for Postdoctoral Appointees in the Physical, Biological, and Health Sciences and in Engineering (Almanac 1996) may be grounds for immediate dismissal. Such situations must be reviewed with the School of Medicine OPP (Office of Postdoctoral Programs). Other University administrative offices will be consulted as necessary.

    The University is obligated by law to pay for an H-1 Postdoc return fare to his or her home country if for any reason the University terminates his or her employment prior to the expiration of the H-1 employment authorization currently sought. Postdoctoral benefits will end the last day of the month they terminate.

    Penn ID

    Penn ID's will expire every year with appointment. A new form is not needed. Postdocs can simply go to the Penn ID Center with the old card and they will look up their payroll record to verify continuous employment.

    Postdoctoral Benefits

    Enrolling in Health Insurance

    Time Off

    Sick Leave


    Postdoctoral appointees are eligible for at least one day accrued paid vacation leave per two calendar months of appointment, in addition to the ten days the University is officially closed. Individuals who work on University holidays may take another day in lieu of the University holiday, to be scheduled with approval of the mentor. Vacation leave is accrued annually and is not cumulative from one appointment year to the next. A period of terminal leave is not permitted and payment may not be made from grant funds for leave not taken. All vacation leave must be scheduled in advance and approved by the mentor, and it is the responsibility of the mentor to monitor the vacation taken by Postdoctoral appointees. Requests for additional time must be negotiated with the mentor and it is recommended that those requests be documented in writing.

    New Child Leave

    Postdoctoral appointees may continue to receive stipends for no more than 60 calendar days of leave per appointment year for adoption or birth of a child. Either parent is eligible. Postdoctoral appointees must discuss the use of new child leave in advance with the mentor. A mentor may not deny a request to use new child leave without the authorization of the appropriate administrative office. Unused sick leave or vacation may, with approval, be used to extend the period of new child leave. Additional new child leave may be approved at the discretion of the mentor.


    Postdoc Extra Compensation

    The grantee institution is allowed to provide funds to an individual in addition to the stipends paid by the NIH. Such additional amounts either may be in the form of augmented stipends (supplementation) or in the form of compensation, such as salary or tuition remission for services such as teaching or serving as a laboratory assistant, provided the conditions described below are met. Under no circumstances may the conditions of stipend supplementation or the services provided for compensation interfere with, detract from, or prolong the trainee's approved NRSA training program.

    Stipend Supplementation: Supplementation or additional support to offset the cost of living may be provided by the grantee institution. Supplementation does not require additional effort from the trainee. DHHS funds may not be used for supplementation under any circumstances. Additionally, no funds from other Federal agencies may be used for supplementation unless specifically authorized by the NIH and the other Federal Agency.

    Compensation: An institution may provide additional funds to a trainee in the form of compensation (as salary and/or tuition remission) for services such as teaching or serving as a research assistant. A trainee may receive compensation for services as a research assistant or in some other position on a Federal research grant, including a DHHS research grant. However, compensated services should occur on a limited, part-time basis apart from the normal research training activities, which require a minimum of 40 hours per week. In addition, compensation may not be paid from a research grant supporting the research training experience.

    Trainees can be compensated from federal funds if they have an employer-employee relationship. If the Postdoc is supported by R01 funds, the stipend is not limited to the NRSA stipend schedule. The stipend can be higher than the recommended stipend level as long as the grant budget can handle it. Please keep in mind those Postdoctoral Fellows with a second job as Postdoctoral Researcher will be fully taxed.

    If a Postdoc is supported by a NIH training grant or fellowship, it IS allowable to provide extra compensation with government funds.

    For more information on postdoc policy please visit the University of Pennsylvania's Postdoc Policy Page .