Definition

A postdoctoral scholar is an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path. Postdoctoral scholars train under the direction and supervision of faculty mentors in preparation for academic or research careers.

Appointment Criteria

Appointment as a postdoctoral scholar requires a doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D.) or the foreign equivalent. Individuals pursuing clinical fellowships and residencies in the health sciences are excluded from appointment to postdoctoral scholar titles. The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service may not exceed five years, including postdoctoral service at other institutions. Under unusual circumstances the University may grant an exception to this limit, not to exceed a sixth year. It is within the University’s sole discretion to appoint, reappoint or not reappoint a Postdoctoral Scholar and to determine the duration of such appointments.

Titles

Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee (3252): An appointment is made in the title “Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee” when a) the agency funding the salary requires or permits the appointee to be an employee of the University, or b. whenever general funds, opportunity funds or other University discretionary funds are used to support the position.

Postdoctoral Scholar-Fellow (3253): An appointment is made in the title “Postdoctoral Scholar-Fellow” when the postdoctoral scholar has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the fellowship or traineeship stipend is paid through a University account.

Postdoctoral Scholar-Paid Direct (3254): An appointment is made in the title “Postdoctoral Scholar-Paid Direct” when the postdoctoral scholar has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the agency pays the fellowship or traineeship directly to the postdoctoral scholar, rather than through the University.

Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee NEX (3255): An appointment is made in the title “Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee NEX” when: a) the agency funding the salary requires or permits the appointee to be an employee of the University, or b) whenever general funds, opportunity funds or other University discretionary funds are used to support the position. and c) based on the percentage appointment of the postdoctoral scholar, the prorated salary per week does not meet the FLSA salary level test.

Interim Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee (3256): An appointment is made in the title “Interim Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee” when UC graduate students who recently obtained their PhD degree or equivalent who need a short-term appointment to complete an existing project from their graduate educational programs before moving on to other employment.

The University may concurrently appoint postdoctoral scholars to more than one postdoctoral scholar title.

Time and Effort Commitment

Postdoctoral scholars are full-time FLSA-exempt professional appointees. Postdoctoral scholars are appointed with the expectation that they will have a full time involvement in scholarly pursuits. The workweek for full-time exempt appointees is normally at least 40 hours, with the emphasis placed on meeting the responsibilities assigned to the position, on making progress toward their professional goals, and on demonstrating their research and creative capabilities, rather than on working a specified number of hours. Required work schedules must be reasonable, and related to the research needs. In recognition of the professional exempt status of postdoctoral scholars, assigned work schedules provide the flexibility to meet research goals and to occasionally allow a schedule of less than 40 hours in a week. Full-time Postdoctoral Scholars do not receive overtime compensation or compensatory time off.

Upon written request of the appointee and written concurrence of the faculty mentor, the University may grant an exception to the full time appointment expectation when the appointee is unable to make a full-time commitment for reasons of health, family responsibilities, employment external to the University, or simultaneously holding another University position. Such a request must take into account extramural funding agency requirements, if any. An exception to full time may be granted for a range of one month to up to the end of the appointment. When the University reduces an appointment, the faculty mentor and postdoctoral scholar shall sign a written agreement specifying the reduction in hours of work and concomitant responsibilities. The full-time work expectation will be prorated for postdoctoral scholars with less than a full-time appointment.

Terms of Service

Postdoctoral Scholar appointments are temporary and have fixed end dates.

Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee (3252): The initial appointment of a postdoctoral scholar at the University shall be for a minimum of one (1) year. The first reappointment of a postdoctoral scholar from any title into the title Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee shall be for a minimum of two (2) years; however, reappointment may be for less than two years under the following circumstances: 1) Less than two (2) years of programmatic work; 2) Less than two (2) years of funding; 3) Exhausted eligibility as a postdoctoral scholar; 4) Work authorization limitations; or 5) Change in PI. Subsequent reappointment into the title Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee may be for less than one (1) year if the following circumstances occur: 1) Less than one (1) year of programmatic work; 2) Less than one (1) year of funding; 3) Exhausted eligibility as a postdoctoral scholar; or 4) Work authorization limitations.

Postdoctoral Scholar-Fellow (3253) and Postdoctoral Scholar-Paid Direct (3254): Appointments and reappointments into the title(s) Postdoctoral Scholar-Fellow and/or Postdoctoral Scholar-Paid Direct shall be for a minimum duration equal to the duration of the fellowship or extramural funding.

Interim Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee (3256): When the University appoints a postdoctoral scholar in the Interim Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee title, the appointment shall be for less than one (1) year.

Compensation

All postdoctoral scholars shall be placed on at least the appropriate salary/stipend level based on the postdoctoral scholar’s experience per Table 23 (for Postdoctoral Scholar-Employees, Fellows, Paid Directs, and Interim Employees) or Table 23N (for Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee NEXs). Nothing shall preclude the University from providing compensation to postdoctoral scholars at rates above those identified in Tables 23 and 23N. Such rates may be provided on appointment, reappointment, anniversary date, and/or as a merit increase.

When extramural agencies establish stipends at a rate less than the University established salary/stipend minimum, and the campus elects to proceed with the appointment of a postdoctoral scholar, the campus shall provide additional funding to increase the salary/stipend level of the postdoctoral scholar to the established minimum. The supervisor shall arrange the additional funding prior to the start date of an appointment.

Once a postdoctoral scholar is appointed at or above the appropriate experience rate, all future appointments must be to at least the appropriate experience based salary/stipend rate. The postdoctoral scholar must thereafter receive salary/stipend increases to the appropriate experience-based salary/stipend rate on their anniversary date. If a postdoctoral scholar’s salary/stipend amount is above the appropriate experience level on reappointment or on their anniversary date, the postdoctoral scholar shall receive an increase to at least the minimum of the next appropriate salary/stipend experience level or at least a two percent (2%) salary increase, whichever is greater.

Increases to the University postdoctoral scholar salary/stipend minima rates shall be made in accordance with the NIH Notice pertaining to the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipend Levels. The effective date of the change is the first day of the payroll period following the announcement. The implementation of and/or changes to Tables 23 and 23N do not automatically affect the salaries of postdoctoral scholars. The new minima will apply to individual salaries/stipends only when a postdoctoral scholar is newly appointed, reappointed, or on anniversary date.

Faculty Mentor

Faculty mentors are responsible for guiding and monitoring the advanced training of postdoctoral scholars. In that role, faculty mentors should make clear the goals, objectives, and expectations of the training program and the responsibilities of postdoctoral scholars. They should regularly and frequently communicate with postdoctoral scholars, provide regular and timely assessments of the postdoctoral scholar’s performance, and provide career advice and job placement assistance.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

An individual development plan (IDP) provides a planning process that identifies the postdoctoral scholar’s general individual research goals, professional development and career objectives. It may also serve as a link to the faculty mentor’s research goal, and thus serves as a communication tool between a postdoctoral scholar and their faculty mentor. In addition to the postdoctoral scholar’s faculty mentor, the postdoctoral scholar may consult with additional career mentors in the development of an IDP.

Progress Assessments

A progress assessment is an evaluation of the postdoctoral scholar’s progress and accomplishment in research and professional development. Within a reasonable time after the beginning of each appointment, the faculty mentor will communicate the faculty mentor’s research and progress expectations for the coming year. These expectations may include those components in an IDP that are directly related to the research assignment for that year. A postdoctoral scholar may request that the goals and expectations on which they will be assessed be provided to them in writing.

The faculty mentor and the postdoctoral scholar shall periodically engage in informal oral progress assessments during their appointment. In these assessments, the faculty mentor and the postdoctoral scholar generally discuss the postdoctoral scholar’s recent research progress and overall research objectives. The structure of the progress assessment may vary with the discipline.

The faculty mentor shall provide the postdoctoral scholar with at least one written review per 12-month period. This annual review is a comprehensive assessment of the postdoctoral scholar’s research progress and achievements, and their professional development during the previous year.


Access the UC-UAW PX contract for complete policy. For additional information about your appointment, please contact your department administrator.