Research Appointments - Information for Administrators

The different types of research appointments, and the processes and policies specific to each, are outlined in the FAS Appointment and Promotion Handbook.  SEAS-specific information for these appointments, to be considered in conjunction with those in the Handbook, are outlined on the pages listed below.

A high proportion (approximately 70%) of SEAS academic hires and appointments are foreign nationals, and require that we work with the Harvard International Office (HIO) to secure the proper visa.  To ensure a smooth transition to the SEAS appointment, it is important to begin the visa process as soon as possible.  Contact the relevant Academic Appointments Manager for more details.

Categories of Research Appointments at SEAS


Unpaid appointment for those engaged in well-defined research for specific institutional objectives. Generally employed full-time elsewhere at a public or private company, or hold a non-ladder faculty appointment at another university.


Paid or unpaid appointee performing research under the sponsorship of a principal investigator; often non-SEAS graduate student; a bachelor's degree is required but a PhD is not.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Paid or unpaid appointee post-PhD performing research under the general supervision of a principal investigator.

Research Associate

Paid appointee supporting research projects under the direction of a principal investigator and who generally has at least two years of postdoctoral experience.

Senior Research Fellow

Independent researcher operating at the level of tenured faculty related to research necessary to the programs of several faculty members.

Visiting Scholar

Paid or unpaid visitor who carries out their own work in association with a Harvard faculty member or members, ordinarily while on leave from a faculty position elsewhere.

Visiting Undergraduate Research Intern

Paid or unpaid undergraduate student performing research under the sponsorship of a principal investigator; bachelor's degree not required.