Postdoctoral Fellow

Description and Eligibility

Postdoctoral Fellows are paid appointees post-PhD performing research under the general supervision of a principal investigator.  A doctoral degree is required.

  • Three month minimum appointment
  • May be reappointed annually; may not hold the appointment for more than 3 years
  • After three years, may be reclassified to a research associate or associate
  • Fall into one of three categories:
    • Internal / Employee (paid by Harvard) - Considered Harvard employees and therefore eligible for Harvard employee benefits, including health, dental, and vision insurance, and vacation time, if their salary is at least $15,000 annually
    • Stipendiary (paid via an awarded Fellowship that is managed by Harvard) - Not considered Harvard employees and therefore ineligible for subsidized Harvard employee benefits, but may purchase the Harvard University Student Health Plan at the Affiliate rate
    • External (paid directly by another institution, government, or program e.g., Fulbright) - Not considered Harvard employees and therefore ineligible for subsidized Harvard employee benefits, but may purchase the Harvard University Student Health Plan at the Affiliate rate

Many Internal / Employee postdoctoral positions require a search.  Once a faculty member or administrator is are aware of the need for a Postdoctoral Fellow appointment, they should notify the relevant Academic Appointments Manager, who will help assess the need for a search and provide advice on documenting a search, if necessary. 

Please see the FAS Appointment and Promotion Handbook  for additional details and policies and procedures regarding Postdoctoral Fellow appointments, which are governed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

        Appointment Checklist (for Administrators)

        Internal / Employee Postdoctoral Fellows

        For new appointments of Internal / Employee Postdoctoral Fellows, the following information should be provided to the relevant Academic Appointments Manager:

        Internal / Employee Postdoctoral Fellows will  be required to sign a Participation Agreement before their appointment can begin.

        Stipendiary* Postdoctoral Fellows

        For new appointments of Stipendiary Postdoctoral Fellows, the following information should be provided to the relevant Academic Appointments Manager:

        Stipendiary Postdoctoral Fellows will  be required to sign a Participation Agreement before their appointment can begin.

        *Please note that the term "Stipendiary" is used differently by SEAS, the HIO, and other offices.

        External Postdoctoral Fellows

        For new appointments of External Postdoctoral Fellows, the following information should be provided to the relevant Academic Appointments Manager:

        External Postdoctoral Fellows will  be required to sign a Participation Agreement and the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release before their appointment can begin.

        Benefits Summary Document

        An overview of benefits available to postdoctoral fellows at Harvard, provided by the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs.

        Visa Information

        See the Harvard International Office Visa Information page