GFS Policy

Postdoctoral Scholars

The policy that governs the appointment, roles, requirements, responsibilities and benefits of Postdoctoral Scholars is found in the Research Policy Handbook (RPH) 10.3, Postdoctoral Scholars.

The GFS salary entry policy for Postdoctoral Scholars is available at GFS Entry & Policy for Postdoctoral Scholars Administrators.

For additional information on appointing and paying postdocs, please visit the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA)'s website at

This section includes:


  1. Definition of a Postdoctoral Scholar (Postdoc) at Stanford University:

    • A Stanford postdoctoral scholar is a non-matriculated trainee, in graduate student status, in residence at Stanford University pursuing advanced studies beyond the doctoral level in preparation for an independent career. Postdoctoral Scholars are appointed for a limited period of time and may participate on Stanford research projects and/or may be supported by external awards or fellowships. In all cases, their appointment at Stanford is for the purpose of advanced studies, research and training under the mentorship of a Stanford faculty member.

  2. Postdoctoral Scholars are normally appointed at 100% time. A Postdoc's appointment may start and stop on any calendar date.

  3. Postdocs at Stanford must be supported by Stanford grants and contracts, training grants, departmental or school fellowship funds, by external fellowships, or by a combination of these sources. Postdocs may not be self-supporting. Financial support, whether in the form of salary or stipend, is paid through the GFS system.

  4. All postdocs, regardless of their source of funding, must be paid at least the minimum level established annually by Stanford University. Schools, departments or faculty may establish a higher funding level for each postdoctoral appointment.

  5. A postdoc registration/tuition fee is charged for each quarter in which a postdoc is registered, including partial quarters.

  6. Postdocs paid on external fellowships directly from an outside source and not processed through Stanford must be entered in GFS as "Info Only" lines. (See discussion in GFS Graduate Fellowships section.)

Postdoctoral Appointments on Grants and Contracts

Postdoctoral Scholars may be employed on Stanford research projects. Their salary is generated, at least in part, by the Stanford projects on which they are working.

Administrators enter salary information for postdocs in GFS using the "Assistantship Salary" panel. Postdoc salaries are automatically charged a fringe benefit rate to provide medical and other insurance for the individual.

Unlike graduate students, assistantship appointments for postdocs may be entered with non-standard start and stop dates. Also, since postdocs do not enroll in courses/units, they may be paid a salary for up to 40-hours per week.

When establishing postdoctoral salaries (as opposed to stipends), it is important to use the correct PeopleSoft Item Type. Postdocs paid salary for less than 50% FTE must be paid as "Contingent Postdocs" in order for the correct fringe benefit rate to be applied.

For postdocs whose compensation includes a blend of both salary and fellowship stipend (see below), use care to select the proper Assistantship Type. If the salary component is less than 50% of the postdoc's total compensation, the Assistantship Type must be identified as "Contingent." This coding will determine the fringe benefit rate to be charged to salary.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Administrators enter fellowship information for Postdoctoral Scholars in GFS, using the "Fellowship stipend" and "Fellowship Tuition" panels. Postdoc stipends are processed through Payroll on a monthly basis.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a postdoctoral fellowship award from a sponsored research project, i.e., a research grant or contract. The differences between the two are significant both for the submittal of proposals and for the administration of subsequent awards. A Decision Model is available to help distinguish between the two and to determine how the proposal and award should be handled.

Postdoctoral Benefits

All postdocs are required to attend a benefits orientation upon arrival at Stanford, conducted by Postdoc Benefits and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for medical, dental, life and disability insurance. Please see Postdoc Benefits website for enrollment information. Salaries paid to postdocs are automatically charged the negotiated fringe benefit rate.

If the cost of postdoc benefits cannot be charged to a fellowship source, the department/faculty sponsor must provide the necessary funding. (Please see the Direct Funded Postdoc policy for more information.)

Postdocs are also eligible for vacation and different types of leaves (e.g., leaves of absence for illness, maternity leave, paternity leave, family leave, etc.). Leaves are subject to visa requirements and/or the approval of funding sources (see item 3, Leave Policy, in Attachment D of the Research Policy Handbook).

Questions about GFS for postdocs?

Please use HelpSU to submit your inquiry online directly to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) by selecting "Request Category: Central Office Issues" and "Request Type: Postdoctoral Affairs".

Updated on October 3, 2016 3:04 PM