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Education / Postdoctoral Affairs / Forms / Postdoctoral Appointment Policy


Postdoctoral Appointment Policy

Postdoctoral appointments in the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) are made in conformity with this policy, implemented by the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (SAD-GEPA).

Definition of a Postdoctoral Appointee

A Postdoctoral Appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship. It is a transitional position and is viewed as preparatory for an academic and/or research career. The appointee is not part of a clinical training program. The appointee was recently awarded the PhD or equivalent doctorate, works under the supervision of a faculty member and has the freedom and is expected to publish the results of his/her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.

  • A Postdoctoral Associate is supported from research funds on grants or other external or internal funding sources and is expected to perform specific work for the University (work on a specific research project, teaching, etc.). A Postdoctoral Associate is an employee of the University and is paid through the University with a fringe rate collected on the salary.
  • A Postdoctoral Fellow is supported from a grant that prohibits the individual from being considered an employee (as determined by the terms of the Sponsored Research grant or funding entity). In cases where the grant/fellowship terms regarding whether the researcher should be an employee are not specific, the terms must be reviewed by the Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs for classification determination. Factors such as whether the funding source reimburses for our fringe rate may be considered in reaching a determination.
  • A Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow is being paid a stipend by an agency outside the University.

Please note: postdoctoral appointees with multiple types of funding dollars may need to have multiple appointments in HRMS. Administrators should review the Process for Appointing Postdocs with Dual Appointments for more information.

View differences in tax treatment of payments and benefits for Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows.

General Conditions of Appointment

Written Offer

All Postdoctoral Appointments are to be made through an offer letter that provides the specifics of the appointment and is signed by both the Postdoctoral Appointee (“Appointee”) and his or her supervising faculty member (“Advisor”). The letter must be co-signed by the Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. The letter must also be co-signed by the department chair/center director who will be administratively responsible for the appointment. If the person responsible for the funding source is not the Advisor or the department chair/center director, that person must also co-sign the offer letter. All internal signatures should be obtained prior to sending the letter to the candidate for their signature.

Approved templates for offer letters are located on the GEPA forms website. The SMD requires the use of these templates for all postdoctoral appointee offer letters. Any offer letter that varies from the template must be submitted to GEPA for approval prior to use, with an explanation of the reason for the change. A copy of the signed offer letter, the Postdoc Information Form, and the Postdoctoral Appointee’s CV must accompany the initial appointment form.

Appointment and Reappointment Guidelines

Postdoctoral appointments are for an agreed upon period, up to a maximum of one year, with a specific starting date. As a general rule, the total time spent in postdoctoral research appointments by a given individual should not exceed five years, including postdoctoral research experience at other institutions. Exceptions to such guidelines should be granted only after careful review by the department and approval of the SAD-GEPA.

During the course of postdoctoral education and training, it is recognized that the source of funding for this appointment may vary, such that the individual may move between Postdoctoral Associate (PDA), Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) and Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (VPDF) status, with an associated change in benefits. While a change in postdoctoral employment classification does not necessarily impact the scope, responsibilities and duration of this position, such a change requires that the individual be notified in writing in accordance with the above offer letter guidelines. The faculty member and the department should inform the PDA/PDF/VPDF in advance that there will be implications for certain benefits. Refer to the Summary of Benefits for Postdoctoral Appointees

The regulations that pertain to original appointments apply to reappointments and should also be governed by the following considerations:

  • Reappointment requires satisfactory research or scholarship performance as determined by the Advisor, and continuation of funding for the position.
  • Reappointment should be made at the same or higher salary or stipend except in the rare circumstance where there is an appropriate reason to reduce the salary or stipend.
  • Written notice of reappointment or non-reappointment should be provided to the Postdoctoral Appointee in writing at least 60 days prior to the end of the current appointment. If there are extenuating circumstances requiring a shorter time frame for notice (e.g. uncertainty concerning continuation of funding), this should be communicated in writing to the PDA/PDF/VPDF at least 60 days prior to the end of the appointment by the Advisor and department chair, with the specific reasons for the delay. If such notice of the delay is not given, or if such notice is given, but a subsequent notice of non-reappointment is not given at least 30 days prior to the end of the appointment, the appointment will continue for 60 days following the date of notice of non- reappointment.

Approved templates for notices of reappointment and non-reappointment are located on the GEPA forms website. The SMD requires the use of these templates for all postdoctoral appointee notices of reappointment and non-reappointment. Any letter that varies from the template must be submitted to GEPA for approval prior to use, with an explanation of the reason for the change. See Appendix A: Administrator Checklist for Postdoc Appointments for details on the documentation requirements for offer, reappointment, non-reappointment and termination letters.

Maximum 5-Year Term Limit

As noted above, the total time spent in postdoctoral research appointments by a given individual should not exceed five years, including postdoctoral research experience at other institutions in the United States. Experience at non-US institutions will not be counted towards the 5-year term. Departments are expected to appropriately transition current postdoctoral appointees exceeding the 5-year limit at the end of their current appointment period or sooner.

Exceptions to the 5-year limit may be made in the following circumstances. Approval from the SAD-GEPA is required:

  1. When there is an available postdoctoral training grant slot available.
  2. When the postdoctoral appointee is awarded a postdoctoral fellowship that requires they be appointed as a postdoctoral appointee.
  3. Please note that time outlined below will not be counted toward the 5-year limit: 
    1. Time spent on leave of absence (for example, for the birth of a child)
    2. Continued research experience with the PhD advisor after the doctoral degree has been awarded (maximum of six months)

Departments may discuss transition options for postdoctoral appointees with the Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs and/or with the Office of Academic Affairs. Options include, but are not limited to, promotion to a staff, research or academic appointment or non-reappointment. A decision guide for considering staff vs. faculty appointments may be found at:

Please note that available transition options will require the H1-B visa status. Thus, departments transitioning postdoctoral appointees in the J visa status should be planning for this transition at least one year in advance to ensure a timely transition.

12-Month Term Limit for Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows (094)

Per University of Rochester policy, the total time spent in the 094 Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow job code may not exceed 12 months. Departments that wish to keep a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow longer than 12 months must convert the individual to the 093 Postdoctoral Associate position or another appropriate position that is paid directly from the University of Rochester. 

Guidelines to Assure a Professional and Respectful Learning Environment

Please review our Guidelines to Assure a Professional and Respectful Learning Environment to learn about the University of Rochester Medical Center’s ICARE values, our learning environment, and our expectations and responsibilities for all learners, faculty, and staff.

Responsibilities of the Advisor

Moving a junior scientist and/or scholar toward an independent, productive and satisfying career is the goal of postdoctoral training. The Advisor has the responsibility of providing a postdoctoral training experience that will foster the individual’s intellectual, technical and professional development. The Advisor is expected to treat the Postdoctoral Appointee as a colleague while at the same time mentoring him or her in the performance of high quality research leading to timely publication. Mentoring also includes encouraging and helping the Appointee to define and develop a career direction and to prepare publications, presentations and applications for extramural support.

Postdoctoral Appointees shall not be exploited nor their research and scholarship training compromised in the service of sponsored research or for the financial gain of the Advisor. See the Guidelines on Research Integrity and Conflict of Interest: Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Appointees, which are incorporated into this policy by reference.

Annual performance evaluation must be conducted by the Advisor for each Postdoctoral Appointee as noted below.

Responsibilities of the Postdoctoral Appointee

Postdoctoral Appointees have obligations to their Advisors, to the SMD and to the University of Rochester. These include conscientious and ethical efforts to accomplish the research and/or teaching responsibilities outlined at the time of acceptance of the appointment, and compliance with good laboratory practice, including the maintenance of adequate research records and care for unique facilities, equipment and special materials such as animals and cell lines. The Appointee must discuss research findings with the Advisor and avoid disclosures of confidential or proprietary information without the Advisor's consent, behave with congeniality and respect for colleagues, and conform to applicable policies. The University of Rochester Policy on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer ( technology-transfer/), by which the University acquires, retains and protects rights in intellectual property and tangible research property produced by University personnel or with the significant use of University resources, applies to Postdoctoral Appointees.

See the Guidelines on Research Integrity and Conflict of Interest: Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Appointees, which are incorporated into this policy by reference.

The Postdoctoral Appointee is required to update his or her Individual Development Plan on an annual basis (at a minimum), as noted below.

Individual Development Plan (IDP) and Annual Evaluation

The Postdoctoral Appointee is expected to create an IDP. In creating and developing the IDP, the Postdoctoral Appointee will work with his/her research advisor and other mentor(s) where appropriate. The IDP maps out the general path the Postdoctoral Appointee wants to take and helps match skills and strengths to career choices. Since needs and goals will evolve over time, the IDP should be revised and modified on a regular basis, no less than annually. Links to useful tools and templates to facilitate this process can be found on the myHub IDP webpage.

Annual Evaluation

The Advisor and the Postdoctoral Appointee must jointly complete the Annual Evaluation form (link below). A copy of the completed and signed Annual Evaluation must be submitted to GEPA with the Postdoctoral Appointee’s reappointment paperwork. Reappointment approval will not be granted without submission of the Annual Evaluation.

Research Integrity

The University of Rochester seeks excellence in pursuit of knowledge and scholarship and requires all members of the University community to adhere to the highest standards of responsible conduct and integrity in research. Should a violation of research integrity and/or research misconduct appear to occur, the University of Rochester Policy on Research Misconduct, which applies to Postdoctoral Appointees, contains the details of procedures to be followed.

Responsible Conduct of Research Training

Postdoctoral Appointees are required to complete Responsible Conduct of Research education by completing the Ethics and Professional Integrity in Research course. The training must be completed as soon as possible upon the start of appointment at the University of Rochester. This 10-week course is offered during the fall semester only, typically starting in September. Additional course and waiver information can be found at:

Depending on their start date, Postdoctoral Appointees may also be required to complete Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research, offered online by CITI.

Resolution of Disagreements

When the Advisor and Postdoctoral Appointee cannot themselves resolve a disagreement relating to the appointment, the issue will be presented to the department chair or center director for their consideration, and, failing resolution at that level, the chair or director should refer the matter and a recommended solution to the SAD-GEPA. Ordinarily, the SAD-GEPA’s decision is final. However, if the matter is still in dispute, either party may submit it to the Vice Dean for Research of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, who may elect to review the decision and may modify it, or decline to hear it. There are no appeals beyond this.


If a Postdoctoral Appointee elects to resign his or her appointment prior to the ending date indicated in the appointment letter or subsequent written understandings, the Appointee is expected to provide a minimum of one month's notice.

If the Appointee is a foreign national in a temporary nonimmigrant worker status they should inform the International Services Office of the resignation by completing the Scholar Departure Form

Early Termination of Appointment

Postdoctoral appointments may terminate early under the following circumstances:

Lack of Funding

It is expected that all postdoctoral appointments will be made for a term that is shorter than the funding for the position. However, if the funding supporting the appointment unexpectedly ends early, the appointment may be terminated with a minimum of 60 calendar days written notice.

Unsatisfactory Performance

A Postdoctoral Appointee may be terminated due to unsatisfactory performance only after the Advisor has first notified the Appointee of his or her specific deficiencies. The notice should be made in writing, with a copy to the SAD-GEPA. The notice should provide a reasonable period of time to remedy any deficiencies that can be remedied. If the identified deficiencies are not remedied within the time allowed, then the Advisor may, with the advice and consent of the department chair (or center director) and approval of the SAD-GEPA, terminate the appointment of the Postdoctoral Appointee.

In those circumstances in which the need to terminate a Postdoctoral Appointee is more pressing than the process described above will allow, the matter may be presented to the SAD-GEPA for review. If it is determined by the SAD-GEPA that an immediate termination, or suspension pending further investigation or procedures, is warranted, such immediate actions will be taken.

Written Notice of Early Termination

The approved early termination letter template for lack of funding is available on the GEPA forms website. The SMD requires the use of this template for all early termination letters for lack of funding. Any letter that varies from the template must be submitted to GEPA for approval prior to use, with an explanation of the reason for the change.

The Advisor and department or center administrator should consult GEPA for assistance with termination letters based on unsatisfactory performance. GEPA will consult the Office of Counsel as appropriate.

Regardless of the circumstances of the early termination, if the Appointee is a foreign national in a temporary nonimmigrant worker status, the department should inform the International Services Office of the termination and request the foreign national to complete the Scholar Departure Form


When departing the University of Rochester, whether at the end of an appointment or due to resignation or termination, the Postdoctoral Appointee must leave behind with his or her Advisor all original laboratory notebooks, data, specific reagents and study elements such as cell lines, unique compounds and University property. All these should be left in a condition that will permit uninterrupted continuation of the work.

Minimum Base Stipend/Salary

The stipend or salary paid to a full time Postdoctoral Appointee may not be below the minimum base stipend/salary (MBS), which is set by the University of Rochester Provost’s Office.

  • ​The MBS for all Postdoctoral Appointees is $56,725/year.
  • Postdoctoral appointments will ordinarily be made on a full-time basis. Part-time postdoctoral appointments are only permitted on an occasional, case-by-case basis, and are subject to prior approval of the SAD-GEPA. The stipend/salary for a part-time appointee must not be lower than the percentage of the MBS that corresponds with the percentage effort.

When extramural agencies establish salaries or stipends at a rate less than the MBS, and the University elects to proceed with such an appointment, the department is required to provide additional funding to bring the pay level of the Postdoctoral Appointee up to the MBS.

Per University policy, provided satisfactory performance and progress, departments are expected to provide annual pay increases for Postdoctoral Appointees similar to Wage and Salary increases provided to School of Medicine and Dentistry staff. Regardless of funding source, departments are strongly encouraged to use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stipend levels for National Research Service Awards (NRSAs) as a benchmark when considering postdoc salaries/stipends.

Postdoctoral Appointees may not be “self-funded”. Funding for pay must come from the University of Rochester or from clearly documented external sources, not from the Postdoctoral Appointee’s personal funds or savings.

International Postdoctoral Appointees

Note that for Appointees in H1B or J-1 temporary work authorization status, there may be additional requirements on the stipend/salary level the University provides.

Contact the International Service Office for additional information


Summary of Benefits for Postdoctoral Appointees

Absences with Pay

Vacation and University Holidays

Full-time Postdoctoral Appointees are entitled to take 2 weeks (10 business days) of paid vacation per year in addition to standard University holidays (New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day) in accordance with University and NIH policies. All vacation must be approved in advance by the Advisor. Vacation may be carried forward for a maximum of one year and must be tracked at the departmental level.

Part-time, hourly paid Postdoctoral Appointees are entitled to holiday pay per the University of Rochester’s Policy 330, Holidays.

Sick Leave and Short-Term Disability

Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows receive sick leave as per the University of Rochester’s Sick Leave Plan and short-term disability as per the University of Rochester's Short-Term Disability Plan.

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible for the University of Rochester’s Sick Leave Plan or Short-Term Disability Plan. SMD expects supervising faculty to allow Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows sick time as needed and according to rules and regulations of their external funding source.

  • Postdoctoral Associate eligibility: immediate
  • Postdoctoral Fellow eligibility: immediate*
  • Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow eligibility: not eligible

*Medical leave for a NIH NRSA-funded Postdoctoral Fellow must first be discussed with the department’s grants administrator and ORPA Research Administrator.

Personal Time and Other Leaves of Absence

Extended personal leaves and the associated terms of such leaves may be granted and determined at the discretion of the Advisor, following the department’s discussion of the matter with GEPA.  Extended personal leaves must be tracked at the departmental level. Note: University of Rochester Policy 357 on Leaves of Absence for Faculty and Staff does not apply to Postdoctoral Appointees.

If time away is needed to bond with a newborn or newly placed child, care for a family member with a serious illness or assist a family member with military leave, the time away may count towards the Paid Family Leave (PFL) entitlement and will run concurrently with the personal leave time. Extended personal leave and PFL may also run concurrently with Family Medical Leave depending on the reason for the leave. More information about Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Family Medical Leave (FMLA) can be found on the Leave Administration website.

Parental Leave

Department administrators or postdocs planning to take parental leave must contact Sharon McCullough in the Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs to discuss the proper logistics for managing the postdoc parental leave process.

Other Leaves Available to PDAs/PDFs

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows are subject to the same FMLA procedures and requirements as University of Rochester staff. University of Rochester’s FMLA policy

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible for FMLA.

Paid Family Medical Leave (PFL)

Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral fellows are subject to the same PFL procedures and requirements as the University of Rochester staff. University of Rochester’s PFL policy

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible for PFL.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

All Postdoctoral Appointees are eligible to take advantage of the services of the Employee Assistance Program.

Health Care Benefits

All Postdoctoral Appointees are required to either participate in the University of Rochester Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Program with Gallagher or waive the Gallagher plan by providing proof of comparable coverage. Postdocs will receive an email from Gallagher with instructions for signing up for or waiving coverage. Postdocs may also contact Gallagher directly.

Retirement Plan 403b

  • Postdoctoral Associates are eligible to make voluntary tax-deferred contributions or after tax Roth contributions. 
  • Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible to make contributions.
  • Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible to make contributions.

Tuition Benefits

  • Postdoctoral Associates
    Employee Tuition Waiver for Courses at the University of Rochester: Full-time Postdoctoral Associates (093) are eligible upon appointment for a 95% tuition waiver for up to 2 credit-bearing courses per semester/quarter only at the University of Rochester. Find additional information at

    Note: Postdoctoral Associates using tuition benefits and considering a transition to Postdoctoral Fellow should plan the transition carefully. Please refer to the Total Rewards Tuition Benefits Plan document . For more information, contact Total Rewards directly .

  • Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows
    Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible for tuition benefits.

View Postdoc Benefits Summary

Policy Against Harassment and Discrimination

The University of Rochester is committed to maintaining an environment free of harassment and discrimination. University Policy 106 (Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment) prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender expression and gender identity, marital status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, veteran status, and any other status protected by law. This important Policy applies to all Postdoctoral Appointees and we recommend that you become familiar with the Policy so that you understand options available to address concerns.

Report Form for policy 106 is available in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF

HIPAA Privacy and Security

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal regulation that mandates standards to protect the privacy and security of patients’ medical information. Privacy refers to maintaining confidentiality and safeguards of all Protected Health Information (PHI) whether in electronic, written, or oral form. Any use or disclosure of PHI must be permitted by the Privacy regulations. Security refers to the measures that are taken to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI) from loss, theft, damage or unauthorized access.

All Postdoctoral Appointees in the School of Medicine and Dentistry are required to view the HIPAA Privacy and Security Training Video

It is important to remember:

You have an ethical and legal responsibility to protect patient information (clinical, demographic and financial) and for reporting inappropriate behavior of others. Patients and workforce members should call the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Integrity Hotline at (585) 756-8888 or online at to report concerns, complaints, or violations.

You must have a job-related reason, or be permitted by policy, to access any patient’s PHI. You are not permitted to access PHI of any patient that is a family member or friend because they have asked you to, or because you hold a power of attorney or a health care proxy. MyChart is available to patients to access their health information or give proxy access to someone else for MyChart only.

Your password is your electronic signature. You must never share your password with anyone, for any reason, ever. Each user is responsible for all information accessed or entered under his or her user ID/password. Do not leave your computer session unlocked or unattended.

Do not open e-mail attachments you were not expecting. Do not click on links in e-mail messages you were not expecting. Do not access Web sites that are not work-related or not well-known brands. Taking these actions may lead to your system becoming infected with malware.

You should consider more secure alternatives (on servers, use of Virtual Private Network, etc.) before storing any PHI on a portable device such as a laptop computer or USB/jump drive or on media such as CDs or DVDs. If you must store PHI on a portable device or media, it must be encrypted.

The URMC HIPAA website contains the HIPAA Policy Manual, HIPAA Highlights & other training materials:

Identification Cards

The University of Rochester photo ID card issued to all Postdoctoral Appointees permits access to University facilities, serves as official University identification and provides proof of eligibility to use various University services such as library loans, check cashing and free or reduced admission charges for University functions. These ID cards must be worn at all times while on University premises. University Policy on ID Cards

Other Policies

Postdoctoral Appointees are subject to the generally applicable rules, regulations and policies of the University of Rochester and SMD, including but not limited to those relating to intellectual property, conflicts of interest, sexual harassment, respect for diversity, academic honesty and campus safety and security.

Compilation of conduct and expectations policies throughout the University


The SMD reserves the right to make changes to this policy from time to time. No period of advance notice is required to make such changes. Please refer to our website for the most up-to-date version.

Appendix A: Administrator Checklist for Postdoc Appointments: offers, onboarding and appointments

Administrator Checklists for Postdoc Appointments: offers, onboarding, and appointments