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Onboarding New Postdocs

Who is a Postdoc?

A postdoctoral researcher ("postdoc") is an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing. (NIH/NSF definition)

Postdocs typically work under a principal investigator or faculty mentor who provides advanced training.  This usually occurs when the individual’s training is accomplished through the performance of obligations on a sponsored contract. At UMD, new hires may be appointed as postdocs only if their start date is within 5 years of receiving their PhD. Postdoctoral appointments can then continue for a maximum of 6 years after the hire; beyond 6 years, the individual's appointment must change to another title.

Postdocs at UMD


When creating a postdoc appointment, there are two titles that may be used for postdoctoral researchers:  Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Scholar.


Salary from grants or campus funds - when funding for a salary comes from grants, contracts, or campus accounts, the postdocs are UMD employees with a faculty appointment. Postdoctoral researchers are eligible to be Primary Investigators (PIs) on proposals for sponsored research.

  • The appointment of such individuals will show an appropriate percentage of employment in the PHR System and will include the individual’s salary.
  • If the appointment FTE is 50% or greater, the postdoc is eligible for benefits as follows:
    • Postdoc Associates - full benefits --- appointment must be Category Status 15;
    • Postdoc Scholars - full benefits except tuition remission; employee contributions to plans are made post tax --- appointment must be Category Status 25.

Stipend from a Training Grant or Fellowship

These postdoctoral researchers are not employees and are thus not eligible for benefits provided by the university.  Note that Postdoctoral Fellow is not an official title in PHR;  the moniker Postdoctoral Fellow is used for postdoctoral researchers who receive a stipend from a training grant or fellowship.

Postdoctoral Fellows receive stipends, rather than a salary, for independent research and training. They are NOT classified as employees.  Their stipends are funded by either institutional or individual research fellowships. This funding is not considered compensation for services, nor should a postdoctoral fellow be required to perform services to receive the grant. Postdoctoral Fellows are appointed in PHR as 0% FTE Non-Paid Employees.  This appointment provides a UID so they will be able to use University resources.  Payment of the stipend is made through the Financial Aid System.  Contact Brenda McHale (4-8284) for more information if staff in your Dean’s office doesn’t know how this is done.

Because of the nature of these appointments, changing the type of appointment (e.g., changing from Cat-15 or Cat-25 to Non-paid Cat-37) or changing from one type of funding to another may result in a change or loss of certain benefits.

Additional Benefits:

  • Access to eight University of Maryland libraries
  • Access to Campus Shuttle/transportation services
  • Access to Campus Recreation Services
  • Access to The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
  • Access to campus wireless services
  • Membership to National Postdoctoral Association

Extending an Offer

Once the decision to hire a prospective postdoctoral researcher is made, an offer letter must be drafted. A template for offer letters found on this site under Postdoc Appointment Letter Templates.

Please send a copy of offer letters and the applicant's CV to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. 


For further information regarding the visa applicationarrival, and continuation of status processes for international postdocs please visit the International Student and Scholars Services website. For individuals utilizing optional practical training (OPT) extensions, be aware of the STEM fields that meet the requirements of the Department of Homeland Security.


The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs recommends that all new postdocs start on a Monday coinciding with New Employee Orientation (or attend the NEO on the first Monday after start date). 


All new postdoctoral researchers are strongly encouraged to attend either New Employee Orientation (NEO) through University Human Resources or Postdoc Orientation through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. NEO presents information pertinent to the entire UMD workforce.

To enroll a new postdoc in NEO, please visit the website here.


Postdoctoral researchers should receive mentorship from a faculty mentor/Primary investigator with whom they work closely with on strengthening research, teaching and professional development skills.  Mentoring plans and individual development plans may be accessed here

For any postdoctoral appointment that is ending, the business administrator should submit a Termination Form to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at least 15 days prior of the end date of the appointment.

The department is responsible for:

  1. Submitting any necessary forms to International Student & Scholars Services in order to amend the J1 or H1B program in case of appointments ending prior to their term date.
  2. Ending all pay lines associated with the researcher.
  3. Obtaining a forwarding address (both physical and email) from the postdoc and sending the information to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
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