This appointment is made to enable the individual to pursue his/her/their research under the general supervision of one or more Harvard faculty members. Postdoctoral fellows engage in mentored training to enable them to become independent researchers. Designated supervisors will ordinarily hold the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, Senior Research Fellow, Senior Research Scientist, Research Scientist, Rowland Institute Research Fellow, John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow, or NSF-Simons Fellow.
To hold an appointment at this rank, the candidate must have received a doctoral degree at the time of appointment. Ordinarily, the candidate will have recently earned a doctorate. The appointment (which, if paid, is contingent on funding) is ordinarily full-time and is made for a minimum of three months and is not to exceed 12 months. (If a part-time appointment is requested, justification must be given to and approved by the assistant dean.) Reappointment at this rank may be possible, subject to review by the principal investigator, and individuals may ordinarily serve in this category, whether full- or part-time, for three to five years. Feedback on performance will be provided on an annual basis. An annual reappointment letter must be submitted for reappointment to this rank. The reappointment letter should include the dates of the reappointment, new salary and/or pay source information, and should outline any changes to the appointment since the original appointment offer letter. Postdoctoral fellows may not be designated as “principal investigator,” “project director,” or "co-PI" without the explicit approval of the divisional dean. (Please see the “Application for the Exceptional Granting of FAS or SEAS Principal Investigator Rights” form, available on the “Forms” page of the FAS website for faculty and researchers.) Please see http://www.postdoc.harvard.edu/ for additional information about postdoctoral fellow appointments.
Note: Members of the FAS and University community are expected to familiarize themselves with, and conform to, Harvard policies on teaching, research, and service, as appropriate to their position. Please see Chapter 2, “FAS and University Policies,” for more information.
In keeping with Harvard University’s Intellectual Property policies (https://vpr.harvard.edu/pages/intellectual-property-policy) and other research policies, faculty and researchers are expected to sign electronically the Harvard University Participation Agreement by the start of their appointment.
If working in one of Harvard’s laboratories, and if not receiving any form of payment from Harvard, faculty and researchers should also submit an electronic PDF of a signed hard copy of the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release for Non-Harvard Personnel Using Harvard Research and Instructional Laboratory Facilities form by the start of their appointment.
The appointment may be on Harvard payroll (“paid” category) or funded externally (“unpaid” category).
Paid appointments may be as employee postdoctoral fellows (when the postdoctoral fellow is supported by research grants and contracts under the direction of a Harvard Principal Investigator) or as stipendiary postdoctoral fellows (when a fellowship is awarded to a postdoctoral fellow and is managed by Harvard University, with the fellow paid through Harvard). For further guidance on stipendees, please see the “Research Appointments Matrix,” available on the "Appointment and Promotion” page of the FAS website for faculty and researchers. In AY 2021-2022 prior to January 1, 2022, the minimum base salary for a postdoctoral fellow was $50,000. Effective January, 1, 2022, this base salary minimum changed to $52,000 for newly hired postdoctoral fellows. For postdoctoral fellows hired before January 1, 2022, this change in base salary minimum to $52,000 will take effect upon their next annual reappointment or by July 1, 2022, whichever date comes first. The salary minimum continues to apply to both internal and external postdoctoral fellows.
Positions unpaid through Harvard include those on fellowships that are paid directly to the fellow and those on the payroll of another institution. If the postdoctoral appointment is unpaid through Harvard, the candidate must have external funding that meets the base salary minimum requirement of $50,000 (prior to January 1, 2022) or $52,000 (effective January 1, 2022). Personal funds may not be used (in full or in part) to meet this requirement.
(3) Appointment/Search Procedures
No search is required for:
a. Appointments to be paid through postdoctoral research fellowships or grants awarded directly to the fellow. (Three letters of recommendation are required.)
Before any appointment can be made, the department or principal investigator must request from the finalist, and review, the finalist’s research proposal (prior to its submission to funding agencies), in order to vet the proposed project and assess the caliber of the candidate. The department or principal investigator must also contact the finalist’s current advisor(s), to gain a fuller sense of the candidate’s qualifications and caliber.
b. Appointments of individuals who are continuing work begun while graduate students at Harvard.
c. Appointments of individuals who move to Harvard as part of an ongoing research team under the supervision of a newly appointed ladder or senior faculty member, as detailed in the faculty member’s offer letter.
d. Appointments involving transfer from “unpaid through Harvard” to “paid through Harvard” status when there is a temporary need to prevent the interruption of research due to lapses in outside funding.
A search is required for all other appointments. Departments or principal investigators should place an advertisement in an appropriate professional journal, indicating the availability of positions in their areas. Other suggested recruitment methods include posting open positions on the department’s webpage, making direct inquiries in the service of developing a diverse pool, and consulting lists of diverse individuals, including women and minorities. Advertising copy must indicate that Harvard is “an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, protected veteran status, disability, genetic information, military service, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or other protected status.” Care should be taken to avoid language that could be construed as discriminatory with regard to age.
As departments or principal investigators must obtain two to three letters of recommendation for the finalist before any offer can be made, they may wish to indicate in the advertisement that candidates should submit with their application either contact information for two to three references or else two to three reference letters. All recommendation letters should be from experts at the ladder faculty ranks; it may be appropriate to include highly accomplished senior researchers from corporations or research institutes, or well-established museum professionals or practicing artists.
Please note that print advertisements are not required for research appointments; online ads are sufficient.
(4) Documentation Requirements
The department must submit items a.-h. below to the Appointments Office in the Office for Faculty Affairs via Aurora and deliver item i. to Central Payroll:
a. For internal, employee postdoctoral appointments, 1 electronic PDF copy of the “Affirmative Action Form” available from the FAS Faculty Affairs Appointments Office.
b. 1 electronic PDF copy of two to three recommendation letters for the finalist (per Section 3, “Appointment/Search Procedures”).
c. 1 electronic PDF copy of the candidate’s curriculum vitae.
d. (For candidates in category 3a above in “Appointment/Search Procedures”) 1 electronic PDF copy of the candidate's research proposal.
e. 1 electronic PDF copy of doctoral degree verification (required for candidates who have received their degree within one year of the effective start date). If an incoming post-doc has received a doctoral degree within 12 months of the start date of his/her/their appointment, verification is required. Acceptable verification is either a certificate of completion from the degree-granting institution or a letter from the institution’s Registrar. Such documentation should state that all requirements for the degree have been successfully completed and should verify the date the degree has been or will be conferred. If the candidate received his/her/their degree from Harvard, written verification from the chair or director of graduate studies, on department letterhead, may suffice.
f. Copies of all advertisements.
g. 1 electronic PDF copy of a postdoctoral offer letter, following the postdoctoral offer letter template. The offer letter must outline the appointment dates and salary, and if the position is unpaid through Harvard, must mention the source and amount of outside funding. On the rare occassion that a postdoc is granted P.I. rights, please cc Roanne Bosch (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Communications and Outreach Coordinator in FAS Research Administration Services. Roanne will assign the postdoctoral fellow any required trainings applicable to FAS/SEAS faculty and Principal Investigators named on sponsored projects.
h. 1 electronic PDF of a signed hard copy of the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release for Non-Harvard Personnel Using Harvard Research and Instructional Laboratory Facilities form (if working in one of Harvard’s laboratories and if not receiving any form of payment from Harvard).
i. Original, completed I-9 form and any necessary payroll documents. (If the postdoctoral fellow is paid as an employee, an I-9 form is required for a first appointment or after a break in service of one year or more.)
Departments should retain documents according to practices recommended by Harvard Archives at https://grs.harvard.edu/ (please log in).