Policies for Postdoctoral Appointments

Postdoctoral appointments afford recent Ph.D. (and equivalent advanced degree) recipients a period in which to extend their education and professional training.  The opportunity to carry out postdoctoral studies in a research environment such as provided at Yale University can significantly broaden an individual’s expertise, provide a period of more independent scholarship, and help define future career paths.  The breadth of the academic community, together with the physical resources in the libraries and laboratories, make Yale University a particularly rich environment for postdoctoral training.  In addition to deriving individual benefits, postdoctoral appointees make important contributions to the research mission of Yale University.   

Postdoctoral appointees may be appointed by or affiliated with a department or other academic unit authorized to make non-ladder academic appointments, such as the MacMillan Center and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies.  There are two categories of appointees:  Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Associates.  The difference arises from the requirements of the funding source.  Appointees funded from Yale-administered research grants, contracts, or other University sources in order to provide services related to the supported research are classified as Postdoctoral Associates; they are employees of the University even though they are considered trainees.  Postdoctoral Fellows are also trainees, but they are not Yale employees.  They may be funded either from training grants to the University or from funding awarded to the trainee from an outside source.  

Terms of Appointment/ 1.1 Eligibility

To be eligible for a postdoctoral appointment, an individual must hold aPh.D., M.D., J.D., D.V.M., D.N.Sc., or equivalent degree from a recognized institution of higher learning.  When a candidate has completed all of the requirements for a degree, but the degree has not yet been formally conferred, the candidate may present evidence of completion of the degree, together with a statement of the date on which the degree is to be conferred.  If the degree is not conferred by the projected date, the postdoctoral appointment shall be terminated.

Postdoctoral appointees must be affiliated with a primary academic department or equivalent academic unit. The candidate must also provide an up-to-date curriculum vitae and list of publications, and must arrange for at least two letters of recommendation to be sent to the prospective faculty supervisor at Yale.   

Note: This document does not address all categories of appointments called “fellows.”  It does not apply to clinical fellows, who are subject to certain agency-mandated requirements and are covered by separate policies.  In addition, the University uses the term “fellow” for other categories not covered by this document, e.g., residential college fellows and participants in advanced fellowship programs offering stipend support (e.g., Liman Fellows and Bernstein Fellows).   

Terms of Appointment/ 1.2 Postdoctoral Appointment Letter

Each new postdoctoral appointment is to be made in writing by a letter from the supervising faculty member. The letter must have the approval of the departmental chair or the appropriate dean in the case of professional schools, though the precise mechanism for obtaining this approval is left to the discretion of the department or school. Final administrative approval must also be obtained from the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs (see below). The appointment letter must include the following details:

(i)   the term, title, and schedule (full time or fractional) of the appointment;

(ii)   the level of support;

(iii)   the source of support;

(iv)   benefits provided;

(v)   a statement of the expected obligations of the appointee during the training period (this statement may refer to a general area of study and need not define a particular project);

(vi)   a statement of teaching responsibilities, if any, associated with the appointment (note that any appointee who will be teaching must also be appointed as a lecturer or equivalent academic rank); and

(vii)   a copy of these Policies for Postdoctoral Appointments.

Additional information, e.g., the possibility and conditions for renewal, may also be included. The postdoctoral appointee must acknowledge the terms of the appointment, either by signing the letter of appointment or by submitting a separate letter of acceptance.

Terms of Appointment/ 1.3 Stipend Level

The University shall establish each year a minimum annual compensation for postdoctoral appointments.  Ordinarily postdoctoral appointments are for full-time employment.  If a fractional appointment is requested by the appointee, this must be clearly stated, with the understanding that the appointee may perform and be compensated for additional University services or outside employment, up to but not exceeding full time.  Moreover, evidence must be provided that such a fractional appointment is consistent with the rules of the funding source and with the visa requirements of appointees who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. 

Terms of Appointment/ 1.4 Maximum Term

Individuals generally hold postdoctoral appointments at Yale University for no longer than four years, although extensions may be granted in exceptional cases.  The total term of postdoctoral appointments may not exceed six years including previous postdoctoral experience at other institutions. 

Terms of Appointment/ 1.5 Notice of Resignation

If a postdoctoral appointee resigns prior to the end of the appointment, he or she will provide at least one month’s notice.  Postdoctoral appointees must leave all research materials with the faculty supervisor to ensure continuation of the project and compliance with relevant University and sponsor policies.  However, access to these data and materials will be provided to the appointee.  If the departing postdoctoral appointee holds non-immigrant status (J-1, H-1B, TN etc.) and resigns prior to the end of the appointment, the department must notify the Office of International Students and Scholars. 

Terms of Appointment/ 1.6 Notice of Termination

A postdoctoral appointment is for a duration of up to one year and does not automatically renew.  Ordinarily, no less than 90 days prior to the end of the appointment, the appointee will receive written notice as to whether or not the appointment will be renewed.  Appointees who have not received such notice should contact their department administrator.

If a postdoctoral appointment is terminated by the faculty mentor prior to the end of the appointment, the appointee must be notified in writing at least 90 days in advance.  Such notice is not required for appointees who are terminated because of poor performance, including misconduct.  In such instances, faculty mentors should consult the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs.

If a departing postdoctoral appointee holds non-immigrant status (J-1, H-1B, TN etc.) and resigns prior to the end of the appointment, the department must notify the Office of International Students and Scholars.

Benefits/ 2.1 Health and Dental Coverage

As employees of the University, postdoctoral associates are entitled to fully or partially subsidized membership in one of the available health plans offered by Yale, for themselves, their families, and civil union partners, subject to specific plan provisions. 
Postdoctoral fellows are eligible to enroll in the same health plans, and this membership may be subsidized in whole or in part, to the extent that funds for this purpose are included in the fellowship or are supplemented by the faculty mentor or the department.                     
Postdoctoral Fellows not receiving a Yale University paycheck and not able to enroll for benefits using Yale’s Workday, are eligible to enroll with Yale Health’s Postdoctoral Fellow Membership Health Coverage Program. Additional information, monthly rates and the process of how to enroll can be found on Yale Health’s Unpaid Postdoc Fellows webpage.
Postdoctoral appointees are also eligible to enroll in dental coverage made available by the University on the terms offered to M&P employees and members of the faculty.  All postdoctoral appointees must have evidence of health insurance coverage during their appointment. 

Benefits/ 2.2 Teacher Preparation

A postdoctoral appointee may participate in teacher preparation activities sponsored by the school with which the appointee is affiliated and, when appropriate, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

Benefits/ 2.3 Paid time off

Paid time off (PTO) is designed to provide postdoctoral appointees time away from work to attend to personal responsibilities and balance the demands of both their professional and personal lives. Postdoctoral appointees are entitled to University holidays each year. Please note: recess days are governed by department policy. Appointees are additionally entitled to 12 business days as PTO during each one-year appointment, prorated for appointments of less than 12 months. All PTO should be scheduled in advance with the faculty mentor, and it is recommended that a written record of time used be maintained.  PTO does not accrue from one year to the next and is not paid out if unused by the end of an appointment. 

Benefits/ 2.4 Sick Time

Postdoctoral appointees may receive up to 9 sick days annually but require medical documentation from a health care provider if an absence exceeds 7 consecutive days. Sick time may be used when the appointee is ill, injured, or caring for an ill family member (child, spouse, parent, parent-in law and same sex domestic partner). Sick days do not accrue from one year to the next and are not paid out if unused by the end of an appointment.  Appointees who exhaust their sick day allowance and need additional days may use Paid Time Off or apply for an unpaid disability leave of absence. In the event that an appointee’s funding source specifies paid time off and/or sick time provisions that are more restrictive than those outlined above, the terms of the funding source shall apply. 

Benefits/ 2.5 Leaves

Yale Paid Parental Leave Policy for Postdoctoral Appointees

A postdoctoral appointee who becomes a parent of a newborn child or adopts a child under the age of six during the term of their appointment may be granted up to eight weeks of paid parental leave, unless such leave is explicitly restricted by an external source of funding for the appointee’s compensation.  To qualify for this leave the appointee must assume significant and sustained responsibility for the care of the child  and is expected to be the caregiver at least half-time during normal working hours throughout the period of the leave. If both parents are postdoctoral appointees, each is eligible for a full parental leave. This leave may be taken any time within a year of the birth or adoption. Parental leave is co-terminus with the postdoctoral appointment, if the appointment is not renewed.  The original source of the funding for the appointee’s compensation will continue to be responsible for covering the compensation during the time of the leave. If both parents are postdocs, they are eligible to take parental leave simultaneously. 

Connecticut State and Federal Family and Medical Leave Acts

Eligible postgraduate and postdoctoral appointees may opt to take unpaid and/or unpaid leave as granted under federal and State of Connecticut laws concerning family and medical leaves (federal and state family and medical leave acts are both commonly referred to as FMLA) and State Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). As delineated under FMLA, an appointee may take an unpaid leave of absence due to the appointee’s own serious health condition or to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent (natural, foster, adoptive, stepparent, or legal guardian), parent of the faculty member’s spouse, or child (natural, adopted, foster, stepchild, or legal ward) who is under 18 years of age or, if older, is unable to provide self-care because of serious illness, for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. Supporting documentation may include medical certifications to be completed by your healthcare provider. 

Leaves taken for Yale paid parental leave and CT PFML count as use of time granted under federal and State of Connecticut FMLA (CT FMLA) law. During a period in which Yale grants an unpaid leave under Federal and State of Connecticut FMLA, the University will continue to pay its share of health and any noncontributory insurance premiums for the appointee on leave.  An appointee who has authorized payroll deductions for benefits must make arrangements with the Benefits Office to make those payments in order to continue coverage. 

Effective January 1, 2022, an eligible appointee may take a paid leave of absence of up to 12 weeks for qualified family and medical leaves. Appointees must apply for the Connecticut Paid Leave (CT PFML) program and submit the Employer Verification Form to employee.services@yale.edu. If an appointee is not eligible for paid leave through the state, the original source of the funding for the appointee’s compensation will continue to be responsible for covering the compensation during the time of the parental leave, up to 8 weeks. Yale notice regarding FMLA absence pay administration.

For fellows - in the event that an appointee’s source of external funding specifies leave provisions that differ from those stated above, the terms of the funding source shall apply, and where necessary, the leave request shall also be sent to the funding Agency. 

Process and Forms

  • State and Federal Family and Medical Leave Acts have different eligibilty requirements. Appointees should visit the links above to determine which leaves apply in their particular case. 
  • Leave of Absence forms are on the Administrators page. Appointees must inform their faculty mentor of planned leave and work with their administrator to submit the form to postdoc.affairs@yale.edu
  • Leaves Process and FAQs for appointees and administrators.

Benefits/ 2.6 Career Services

A postdoctoral appointee will be provided career services by the Office of Career Strategy for non-academic job searches and the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs for academic job searches.  

Please visit OCS for more information on available career services for postdoctoral appointees. Click Here

Benefits/ 2.7 Auditing University Courses

Postdoctoral appointees and their spouses or civil union partners are eligible to audit (not for credit and not recorded on a transcript) University courses in the Graduate School and Yale College during the academic year.  Classes audited by postdoctoral appointees should be consistent with the appointees’ training objectives, and appointees should discuss their plans with their mentors to ensure that the coursework does not interfere with research activities.  Postdoctoral appointees must have the permission of the instructor to audit classes.  In the case of spouses or civil union partners wishing to audit undergraduate courses, approval of the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs is required in addition to permission of the individual instructor.  For Graduate School courses, approval of the appropriate associate dean of the Graduate School is required.  Each professional school sets its own policies concerning the auditing of courses.  Information about these policies can be obtained from the dean’s office of each school. 

Benefits/ 2.8 Tuition Benefits

Postdoctoral appointees (whose appointment is at least half-time) may only receive tuition benefits if the classes taken are consistent with their educational training.  Postdoctoral appointees and their spouses or civil union partners may receive a tuition reduction when they enroll, through the regular admissions procedures, in courses offered through the Yale College non-degree Special Students Program, the Yale Summer Session, or the Graduate School’s Division of Special Registration and master’s degree programs.  For information regarding tuition benefits in the professional schools, consult the dean’s office of those schools.  

For more information, please click here: https://your.yale.edu/work-yale/benefits/yale-signature-benefits/educational-assistance-programs-yale

Benefits/ 2.9 Facilities

An appointee has access to the University’s facilities on terms usual to faculty and staff and is eligible for parking privileges with a limited allocation priority.    

Expectations for Training/ 3.1 Mentor Responsibilities

As trainees, postdoctoral appointees must be formally mentored or co-mentored by a member of the ladder faculty (Assistant, Associate or Full Professor), or those with Yale appointments who have been approved for a promotion to a ladder rank on a specified date. As part of the annual reappointment process the mentor is expected to write an evaluation or progress report of the postdoctoral appointee’s activities in a manner that is clear and timely (IDP Evaluation Form).  These reports should be provided to the appointee and forwarded to the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs.  Mentors have the responsibility to provide an appropriate educational experience that helps to advance the career of the postdoctoral appointee.  

Expectations for Training/ 3.2 Appointee Responsibilities

The postdoctoral appointee is expected to:

  1. Fulfill specific research and training objectives;  
  2. Conform with ethical research standards of the University;  
  3. Comply with all relevant federal, state and municipal regulations and guidelines that relate to human subjects research, the care and use of laboratory animals, and the use of hazardous materials;  
  4. Comply with all relevant University policies; and  
  5. Record and document research results appropriately.   

If the appointee will be engaged in other specific activities, such as teaching, these expectations should be stated in the letter of appointment or in a subsequent written communication.   

Expectations for Training/ 3.3 Outside Employment

A postdoctoral appointee who holds a full-time appointment should consult the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs prior to engaging in additional employment activities such as consulting.  These activities must comply with all relevant University policies including those on conflict of interest, conflict of commitment, and intellectual property.  In addition, such employment should be discussed with the faculty mentor, must not interfere with the primary research and training obligations, and must comply with the rules of the funding source.  

Expectations for Training/ 3.4 Teaching at Yale or at Other Institutions

Some postdoctoral appointments include a role in teaching.  For those that do not include such a role, when allowed by the funding source and with the approval of the faculty mentor, some postdoctoral appointees may teach at Yale and in certain circumstances may receive compensation in addition to the stipend.  Consult the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs for further information. 

Administrative Support/ 4.1 Departmental Role

Each department or school that makes postdoctoral appointments shall designate a faculty member to oversee the appointment procedures and to serve as a resource to faculty on postdoctoral policies.  The faculty member is expected to provide guidance and support to the postdoctoral appointees in the department and to serve as a link to the University-wide Office for Postdoctoral Affairs.  Administrative support shall be provided by the department or school. 

Administrative Support/ 4.2 Postdoctoral Affairs

The Office for Postdoctoral Affairs  supplements the role of the departments and schools in implementing policies and procedures related to the appointment, roles, requirements, and responsibilities of all postdoctoral appointees in the respective FAS departments and professional schools.  Areas in which the office provide assistance and oversight of compliance with University policies include: 

Initial appointment and reappointment

- Authorization (levels and sources of support)

- Approval and processing

Stipend and data change monitoring

- Visas (coordination with Office of International Students Scholars)

Policy administration
- Leaves, benefits, termination, grievance, resignation
- Research compliance (coordination with other University offices)
Support functions
- Orientation
- Communication with the postdoctoral community 
- Career services and professional development

Complaint Procedure/ 5.0