What does postdoctoral mean?
Postdoctoral fellowships provide doctoral graduates with the opportunity to pursue further research opportunities in their fields. Students participate in a fellowship to improve their skills and knowledge during research and to potentially assist in their transition to a tenure-track academic position. Some students also participate in programs as they work their way into the professional world.
The length of a postdoctoral program can vary, depending on your institution and field of study. Many positions typically last one to two years, though some last up to five years. Your specific research project and available funding can also affect the length of a fellowship.
Do postdocs get paid?
Postdocs are generally paid positions, though the payment amount varies widely. Factors like your experience, program, funding and project length can all affect how much you’re paid for your research efforts.
Dependent on their program, some recipients are granted a benefits package in exchange for their work. These packages often include paid time off, health insurance and a retirement savings plan. Some benefits packages also offer housing allowances and reimbursement for travel-related expenses.
Although prestigious, these positions often pay less than a professional one in the same field.
Who is eligible for postdoc positions?
PhD graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are most likely to pursue postdoctoral research opportunities. However, graduates of other research doctoral programs can also participate in these programs to achieve many of the same benefits.
Eligibility is also determined by previous education and experience. Most participants will have completed a doctoral degree within the last few years. They also have strong skills in research, communication and teamwork, and demonstrate a desire to continue their education past the doctoral level.
Some opportunities are subject to certain requirements or parameters, such as guidelines or experience in a particular field. For example, you might need to be of a specific nationality, hold a certain degree or have experience with particular research methods to participate in a given postdoc program.
How to apply for a postdoc
The process to apply for these opportunities will depend on your preferences and the institution offering the program. Postdocs are usually funded and posted on job boards, academic websites, through professional societies and at other locations. You’ll need a resumé or CV highlighting your strengths and experience in research, along with details about your career goals.
If your application is selected, you may need to participate in an interview process. Leaders at the institution will ask further questions to determine how you may contribute to their program.
Some institutions and funding sources have different application processes and steps. For example, a program might require that you submit a research proposal or that you have a certain number of already-published articles in your field. The type of research a postdoc program requires will help determine the parameters for application.