Postdoctoral Appointments

Titles - Letters - Term Limits – Terminations –Salary/Stipend - Benefits​


Per the postdoctoral policies, postdoctoral appointments are temporary training positions. They require a PhD, MD, MD/PhD or equivalent terminal degree. It is recommended that the initial postdoctoral appointment be within three (3) years of the Ph.D. degree or within six (6) years of the M.D. degree. Postdocs may be appointed in one of two titles (click the title to view the Official WUSM HR Job Descriptions):

Postdoctoral Research Scholar (Job Code ZR994/098)
Non-employee of the University – this person receives a stipend
Definition: the appointee participates in a teaching and research training program, such as a fellowship or training grant, that develops the individual’s research skills for his/her primary benefit.

Postdoctoral Research Associate (Job Code ZR052/099)
Employee of the University – this person receives a salary
Definition: the appointee performs specific services on a grant or contract in exchange for compensation.

People may be appointed to a postdoctoral title when all requirements for the PhD, MD or equivalent degree have been met, even if the diploma has not been conferred. These requirements include experiments, thesis writing and/or oral and written defenses or anything related to the thesis project. For example, a graduate student may defend his/her thesis in February and turn in his/her thesis in March, but his/her diploma will not be officially granted until May. That person is eligible to be appointed as a postdoc in March, when all requirements for the degree have been met and all paperwork turned in. If additional experiments, writing or defense is needed, the person cannot be appointed as a postdoc. If a department has questions about whether or not the requirements are complete, they may request that the prospective postdoc provide a letter or other documentation from their graduate school. Additionally, it is recommended that the departments ask for a copy of the diploma (or other documentation) of the graduate degree for all postdoc appointments.

Additionally, postdocs are not subject to the six month probationary period and are able to use their vacation/sick days immediately. If a probationary period is needed, that should specifically be detailed and written into an offer letter.


  • If a person is doing clinical training or required research during a designated clinical training program, then s/he should be appointed as a Clinical Fellow.
  • If a person is adding additional research time to the middle or end of their clinical training program, s/he can be appointed as a Postdoctoral Research Scholar/Associate during this time.
  • Paid-direct postdocs (those postdocs with no salary/stipend routing through the University, i.e., HHMI postdocs, those on foreign government fellowships paid directly to the postdoc at his/her personal address, etc) should be entered in the HRMS system as Postdoctoral Research Scholars in a non-paid role (NPR) and the direct pay salary/stipend amount should be entered in the Non-WU Pay field.
  • If a person does not receive salary/stipend from or through WU and does not have a paid-direct fellowship or other funds, then s/he should be appointed as a Visiting Researcher or other appropriate title - please discuss with Human Resources. All those in postdoctoral titles should receive salary/stipend for their training.

Part-Time Appointments

Part-time appointments are not permitted. All postdoctoral positions are considered full-time appointments. In the case of family, personal or medical issues, a temporarily reduced schedule may be approved by the Postdoc Policy Review Committee. A temporarily reduced schedule may be granted once during postdoctoral training, for at least 50% time and for a period not to exceed one year. Please submit the form to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs as far in advance as possible to request a temporarily reduced schedule. (Link to Policy and Form)

Secondary Appointments – same and different titles

Traditional secondary appointments for job or sourcing splits must be made in the same title as the primary appointment (Scholar & Scholar or Associate & Associate). Secondary appointments in a different, non-postdoctoral title are only allowed for appropriate positions that have completely different duties than the postdoctoral position, are time limited and are above and beyond postdoctoral training. These positions should be paid hourly or lump sum for a certain activity. Examples of appropriate secondary positions include postdocs who are paid to teach a class, those that see patients in a clinic once a month or those that provide a certain specific time-limited service on a grant, i.e. a statistician. If you have questions about an appropriate position, please contact the OPA or Tammy DeBeaux (HR).

Initial Letter of Appointment & Annual Letters

Each postdoc should be sent a written initial letter of appointment within three months of the initial appointment date and a copy should be kept on file in the department. This letter is generated through HRMS when the appointment is complete and should be sent by the department on departmental letterhead. It is a confirmation of the postdoc’s department, supervisor, salary/stipend amount and other details of their appointment. Please see the “HRMS Notes” section for instructions on printing this letter.

At the end of each August, OPA will generate an Annual Letter in HRMS reminding postdocs and faculty mentors of the institutional training end for each postdoc.  Postdocs and faculty will receive an automated email with a link to view their letter in HRMS.  They can also access the letters in HRMS directly by going to Main Menu – Employee Self-Service – Postdoctoral Letters.  All department administrators with Super User access can also view the letters for their department in HRMS by going to Jobs & Compensation - Postdoc Letters - Postdoc Letter List by Year.  Additionally, Department Administrators may run a “postdoc end dates” report in HRMS at anytime to see the dates for postdocs in their department.​

Five Year Training Limit and Extensions to the Term Limit

Postdoctoral positions are limited to five years of training, including time at other institutions. Please check the PIF or the new postdoc’s CV to see if they had prior experience when entering the appointment. The Postdoc End Date field will automatically default to five years out from the initial date of appointment.  If the postdoc has prior experience, please change the postdoc end date on the Additional Personal Data page.  (It also displays on the Additional Job Data page, but cannot be changed there.)  The clock begins when the person begins postdoctoral training, not from the date of degree, though in most cases these two dates are very close. Clinical training (residencies & clinical fellowships) does not count towards this five year limit.

​Extensions to the five year limit to postdoctoral training may be granted by the Postdoc Policy Review Committee for extenuating circumstances, changes in lab or other significant personal or medical issues. To request an extension, please submit the form with required documents to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs three to six months in advance of the end date. Please take into consideration if you need to file for a visa. Generally speaking, extensions are granted for a maximum of one additional year. (Link to Policy and Form)

You do not need to file the official Request to Extend with the Committee if:
1. A postdoc will be leaving WU within three (3) months of their end date;
2. A postdoc has received an individual fellowship that extends past their postdoctoral training end date, but is within one year of that date (i.e., a postdoc has an AHA individual fellowship through June 2018, but their postdoc end date is November 2017).

In these two situations, please send an email to the OPA at explaining the details and copying all affected parties (postdoc, faculty advisor & department administrator) and they will respond via email. If you have questions about this process please contact the OPA at

Completing Training/Terminations

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs would like to create a database and start tracking postdocs after they finish their postdoctoral training. Exit surveys are posted on the website and are also available in the “Forms” section of this website. We encourage you to distribute these surveys when postdocs contact you to complete their appointments.

Human Resources has information that summarizes the status of postdoctoral benefits as of the date the postdoc leaves the University. This information is online at contact the WUSM Benefits Office (John Henderson at 362-9341 or john.henderson@wustl.eduif you need a hard copy or have questions.

If a postdoc is not meeting expectations, in general, please follow the guidance in the WUSM Postdoctoral Policy Implementation document and Human Resources’ guidelines for corrective action. Postdocs should be mentored, coached & counseled, and given the chance to improve their performance. Postdocs may be terminated for poor performance. If a faculty mentor must terminate a postdoctoral appointment due to lack of funding, the postdoctoral appointee must be given a minimum of 30 days written notice prior to such termination. If the postdoc is here on a visa, please consult the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) regarding termination policies and procedures.


(FYI: postdoctoral benefits are the same University-wide.)
Generally speaking, Postdoctoral Research Scholars/Associates are eligible for the WU Benefit package if they are paid by a grant or fellowship awarded through Washington University and receive a WU paycheck. Postdocs with outside funding (i.e. funding paid directly to them at their home address) may receive WU benefits if they receive a stipend that will cover the total cost (postdoc’s deduction and fringe benefit charges) of University benefits.  Please visit 
from more information or contact the SOM Human Resources Benefits Office with any questions or to confirm eligibility: John Henderson at 362-9341 or john.henderson@wustl.eduDepending upon a postdoc’s status as an employee or non-employee, Federal Tax Law will dictate how the benefits are administered.

The postdoctoral benefit package is maintained by Human Resources – please visit their website for specific information on each benefit -

Notes about benefits:

  • The Postdoc Tuition Remission Benefit is different than the Employee Tuition Remission Benefit and is available immediately. Forms from WUSM postdocs must be submitted to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) before the class begins. Please contact OPA with questions regarding the Postdoc Tuition Remission Benefit. (Postdocs in other schools should submit their forms to the appropriate contact listed on the top of the form.)
  • Postdoctoral Research Scholars/Associates receive the same benefit package except that scholars are not eligible to contribute to the University’s 403(b) plan nor are they eligible for workers compensation & unemployment insurance because they are non-employees. In lieu of the 403(b), Scholars may open a Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) with post-tax contributions.
  • Additionally, how benefits are administered may be different for Scholars & Associates due to tax status differences between employees and non-employees. Associates are able to have pre-tax deductions, while Scholars will have additional stipend added to their base stipend for the WU-paid portion of the long-term disability insurance and health insurance (if applicable) with post-tax deductions.
  • Postdoctoral Research Scholars do not fill out time sheets or leave records. Postdoctoral Research Associates are not required to fill out time sheets or leave records. It is recommended that time away and vacations be managed between the postdoctoral appointee and the faculty advisor.
  • Postdoctoral vacation and sick days are appointed every July 1st, do not carryover from year to year and are not paid out upon termination or transfer.


WUSM sets a minimum salary/stipend amount for Postdoctoral Research Scholars/Associates, but does not set an amount for each level of experience or a maximum amount.  We recommend that postdocs be reviewed annually and given raises as appropriate. (Link to Annual Review Template.)  Postdoctoral increases are decided by the faculty advisor and may be of any amount.  Postdoctoral increases are not subject to the staff percentage limits set by Human Resources for raises.  Some faculty may also choose to follow the NIH stipend scale, here is a link to the most current scale (NIH’s FY17):  

In fall 2010, WUSM Executive Faculty approved a proposal to tie the WUSM postdoctoral minimum salary/stipend amount to the NIH year 0 postdoctoral stipend amount with a delayed start.  Due to the differences in the federal and University fiscal years, occasional delays by congress in passing budgets, and the need for advance salary planning, the WUSM minimum for a particular fiscal year will be the NIH year 0 amount from the federal fiscal year two years prior.  Therefore, the WUSM FY18 minimum starting on July 1, 2017 will be $47,484. All postdocs are required to meet the minimum on July 1, but may be paid any amount above this.​

Postdoc Grievance Procedure

A formal grievance procedure for postdocs was written into the WUSM Implementation Policy – please refer to this document for guidelines.

Postdoc Conflict of Interest Policy

A formal conflict of interest policy for postdocs is being considered.

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