Oregon State University
Skip to Navigation

What is a Postdoc?

Although postdoctoral education has played an important role in the United States for more than 100 years, Oregon State University and other research universities are paying increased attention to the role that postdocs play and to the need to assist postdocs prepare for their careers.

Oregon State University accepts the definition of a postdoctoral appointment from the American Association of Universities, Committee on Postdoctoral Education, Report and Recommendations, March 31, 1998.

  • The appointee was recently awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g. Sc.D., M.D.) in an appropriate field; and
  • The appointment is temporary; and
  • The appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship; and
  • The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career; and
  • The appointment is not part of a clinical training program; and
  • The appointee works under the supervision of a senior scholar or a department in a research university or similar research institution (e.g., national laboratory, NIH, etc.); and
  • The appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have adopted a defintion of postdoctoral scholar. Their "definition, which emphasizes the importance of mentored training during the postdoctoral period, will be used for all postdoctoral scholars supported by funding from NIH or NSF." They state that a postdoctoral scholar is: "An individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path."