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Information about Postdoctoral Appointments for Supervisors and Administrators


Appointments to postdoctoral positions at Oregon State University must meet the following criteria, which are modeled on 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
  • he appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.

Oregon State University has two postdoc appointment types that meet these criteria. The primary difference between scholars and fellows is the funding source and its consequence for status as an OSU employee. Appointment procedures for postdoctoral scholars and postdoctoral fellows follow.

Postdoctoral Scholar Appointment Process
Postdoctoral scholars are employees/trainees who receive stipends funded by research grants or other university funds and work under the supervision of a principal investigator who is an Oregon State University faculty member.

An appointment is based upon the postdoctoral scholar's research credentials and availability of funds. Postdoctoral scholars typically have been awarded a doctoral degree within the past five years, after which time it is expected that they will transition into independent academic or research careers.

Appointments should be full-time unless exceptional circumstances require a lower appointment level. Appointments below 0.5 FTE are not permitted. When appointing a postdoctoral scholar at less than full time, the faculty mentor and the postdoctoral scholar must clearly articulate the impact of the lower appointment level on expectations for research and training.

Offer letters must be conveyed in writing and should describe the research training opportunities available to the postdoctoral appointee as well as the individual's specific responsibilities. The offer letter must include all the required paragraphs found in the model offer letter on the Office of Human Resources web site: http://oregonstate.edu/admin/hr/model.html. When signed by all parties, the letter offering a postdoctoral appointment constitutes a notice of appointment. OSCAR appointment forms and instructions may be found on the central administrative web at: https://oscar.oregonstate.edu/.

Postdoctoral scholar appointments at OSU may be renewed annually on a fiscal year basis for up to three years, so long as the postdoctoral scholar is within five years from receipt of the doctoral degree. If the scholar has completed a postdoctoral appointment elsewhere, the sum of the OSU appointment and all prior postdoctoral appointments cannot exceed a total of five years. To continue employment beyond the three year limit, the employing department or research center may seek reclassification as a research associate. For information on that process, contact Human Resources for guidance. Appointments may be terminated prior to the end of the contract year based on unsatisfactory performance or when funding is no longer available.

Before employing an international scholar, the appointing unit must consult with an international scholar advisor. See the section below on recommended salary/stipend levels for special considerations that may apply.

Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment Process
Postdoctoral fellows are trainees who are funded by portable fellowships awarded by entities external to Oregon State University and have funding managed by the Office of Post Award Administration. As is the case with postdoctoral scholars, they conduct their research and receive training under the mentorship of an Oregon State University faculty member.

Because postdoctoral fellows are not considered Oregon State University employees, they are not entered into The university's payroll system and paid salaries as employees. Instead, their funding is managed by the Office of Post Award Administration via Accounts Payable.

To be appointed, a postdoctoral fellow must meet the criteria for holding postdoctoral appointments listed at the top of this page. An appointment as a postdoctoral fellow will originate with the Oregon State University faculty member who agrees to supervise the fellow.

The OSU entity responsible for administrative oversight of the fellowship will issue a letter offering an appointment. That letter will indicate the name of the postdoctoral fellowship, the appointment begin and end date, the stipend level, and the method in which the stipend will be disbursed. A postdoctoral fellow model letter of offer is available through the Office of Human Resources web at: http://oregonstate.edu/admin/hr/model.html. When signed by all parties, the letter offering a postdoctoral appointment constitutes a notice of appointment. The signed letter of offer will accompany the postdoctoral fellow appointment form that will be submitted for review and approval by the Office of Post Award Administration before entry into Banner by the relevant Business Center or the Office of Human Resources. OSCAR appointment forms and instructions may be found on the central administrative web at: https://oscar.oregonstate.edu/.

Renewal of postdoctoral fellow appointments at OSU is subject to the terms and conditions of the program providing funding. Postdoctoral fellow appointments at OSU cannot exceed three years. If the fellow has completed a postdoctoral appointment elsewhere, the sum of the OSU appointment and all prior postdoctoral appointments cannot exceed a total of five years.

Health Insurance
Health insurance for postdoctoral scholars may be charged to sponsored accounts or paid by state or local accounts. As of 2012 the cost of health insurance is $273.28 per month, and there is also a $12.00 administration fee which is split between the postdoc and the account that is funding the postdoc. Postdoctoral fellows participate in the same health insurance policy, but must pay for coverage, including the administrative fee, from their own funds or from allowances provided by the external agency providing the fellowship. Postdoctoral fellows and scholars may include family members on their group policy but they must pay for this insurance themselves. In 2012 the cost is $300.73 for a partner/spouse, $511.16 for a whole family, or $210.50 for individual children.

Responsibilities of the Supervising Faculty Member
The supervising faculty member is responsible for developing, in concert with the postdoctoral scholar, a plan of research and the goals, objectives and expectations of the training program. Faculty supervisors are expected to regularly and frequently communicate with postdoctoral scholars; provide oral or written evaluations; and offer mentoring, including career advice and job placement assistance. The faculty mentor should also ensure that postdoctoral scholars have an environment adequate for fulfilling their responsibilities.

Responsibility of the Postdoctoral Scholar or Fellow
Postdoctoral fellows are expected to carry out the research plan and fulfill the goals established with the supervising faculty member; to assist the faculty member in fulfilling the requirements of the grant, contract or project in a timely manner; to communicate regularly with the faculty member; and to notify the faculty member of any change in research plans. Postdoctoral scholars funded through institutional training grants or fellowships may have additional responsibilities identified by the funding source.

Salary/Stipend Guidelines
Salary levels for postdoctoral scholars vary among programs. When information is unavailable about peer compensation levels, the Graduate School recommends setting the salary rate at the level set for NIH/NSRA fellows with no prior postdoctoral experience. The rate for FY 2012 is $39,264 for entry-level positions and about 4% more for each year of experience. For more information, see the NIH web site.

In order to hire international scholars, some visa classifications require that the scholar be paid the prevailing wage for such employees. Compliance with this standard is required for certain visas to be issued. Before offering a postdoctoral appointment, contact an international scholar advisor to determine the appropriate visa type.

Compensation for postdoctoral fellows is governed by the agency providing funding, and therefore varies based on the source of funds.