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 Contacts page in this manual includes contact information for the Postdoctoral Services Office. Additional information can be found on their web site (http://postdocs.stanford.edu).

This section includes:


  1. A Postdoctoral Scholar (Postdoc) is a trainee in residence at Stanford pursuing advanced studies beyond the doctoral level in preparation for an independent career. Their appointment at Stanford is for the purpose of advanced studies 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. Postdoctoral Scholars 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 Postdoctoral Scholars, regardless of their source of funding, must be paid at least the minimum level established annually by Stanford University. Schools may also establish a higher minimum salary level for Postdoctoral Scholars paid within their school.

  5. A postdoctoral registration fee is charged for each quarter in which a Postdoc is registered, including partial quarters. These fees may be charged directly to a grant or contract from which the scholar is being paid, or to a Fellowship supporting the scholar. Where neither of these funding sources is available, the fee will be paid by the Department in which the Postdoc is appointed. Administrators pay the postdoc registration fee through the GFS system.

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

  7. All Postdoctoral Scholars are required to attend a benefits session, conducted by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

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 Postdoctoral Scholars in GFS, using the "Assistantship Salary" panel. Postdoctoral salaries are automatically charged a benefit rate to provide medical and other insurance for the individual. The postdoc registration fee is also paid through GFS, using the "Assistantship TAL" panel.

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

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.

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

Postdoctoral Scholars are eligible for medical, dental, life and disability insurance (see Postdoc Benefits website for enrollment information). Salaries paid to postdocs are automatically charged the negotiated fringe benefit rate. For Postdocs on fellowships, if the cost of benefits cannot be charged to the fellowship source, the department/faculty sponsor provides the necessary funding.

When establishing postdoctoral salaries (as opposed to stipends), it is important to use the correct PeopleSoft Item Type. Postdoctoral Scholars paid salary for less than 50% FTE must be paid as "Contingent Postdocs" in order for the correct fringe benefit rate to be applied. (See memo from Godfrey Mungal, clarifying charges to sponsored projects for Postdoctoral Scholars' benefits.)

Postdoctoral Scholars are also entitled to leaves of absence for illness, maternity, family leave and vacation, all subject to the approval of outside funding sources (see "Leave" section of Postdoctoral Scholars policy).

Updated on July 16, 2015 12:23 PM