A Postdoctoral Fellow ("postdoc") is a professional apprenticeship designed to provide recent Ph.D. recipients with an opportunity to develop further the research skills acquired in their doctoral programs or to learn new research techniques, in preparation for an academic or research career. UNC Charlotte embraces the principle of the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) that “the postdoctoral experience is first and foremost an apprenticeship whose purpose is to gain scientific, technical, and professional skills that advance the professional career of the postdoc.” In the process of further developing their own research skills, it is expected that Postdoctoral Fellows will also play a significant role in the performance of research at the University and augment the role of graduate faculty in providing research instruction to graduate students. A Postdoctoral Fellow works under the supervision of a regular faculty member, who serves as a mentor to the Fellow, and it is expected that the faculty mentor will impart the realities, and variety, of scientific careers, and will encourage experiences outside the laboratory to broaden postdocs' aspirations. Within the confines of the particular research focus assigned by that faculty member, the Postdoctoral Fellow functions with a considerable degree of independence and has the freedom (and is expected) to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of appointment. Thus, the role of Postdoctoral Fellows is clearly differentiated from full-time technical employees.
Postdoc appointments are characterized by all of the following conditions:
- the appointee was recently (within the last eight years) awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.);
- the appointment is temporary;
- the appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship;
- the appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career;
- the appointee works under the supervision of a faculty member; and
- the appointee has the freedom and is expected to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of appointment.
- the appointee may teach one accredited course per semester in addition to his or her normal research appointment duties.
Postdocs fall under a special category of temporary employment defined by University Policy 102.10. There are two key features of Policy #102.10 that faculty investigators should know:
- The Office of Academic Affairs in coordination with Research and Economic Development has the responsibility for monitoring and applying policies that relate to postdoctoral appointments. Postdoc appointments are made using Academic Affairs Form AA-35 ("Agreement for Temporary Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment") and require the signature of the Department Chair, Dean, and the Senior Associate Provost of Academic Affairs.
- A key feature of Research and Economic Development’s joint oversight is the degree to which the University's postdoc hiring is nationally visible. It is critical for UNC Charlotte's development as a research university that we be known for hiring Postdocs and for treating them well. Consequently, Postdoc opportunities should be communicated nationally within the discipline. This doesn't necessarily mean that expensive advertisements are needed, but rather that we make an effort to inform colleagues throughout the country of our openings.
- Postdocs are appointed for one year and may be renewed for additional one-year increments. However, Postdocs will be limited to not more than five years' total duration, and we will count prior experience as a Postdoc in that five-year total.
- Funding source changes do not require pre-approval and can be handled by an superseding PD-7, however if the appointment terms change (e.g. change in duties, change in pay, change in dates) a new contract may be required and the hiring department should contact the Office of Academic Budget and Personnel in advance of any proposed changes. Appointment term changes should be rare exceptions.
As temporary employees, postdocs will not accrue vacation or sick leave. However, the University recognizes that postdocs will likely work non-standard hours in the course of their duties, and faculty supervisors may make appropriate arrangements for compensatory leave in accordance with the specific working conditions.
University Policy 102.10 states that "the Chancellor is authorized to arrange for Postdoctoral Fellows such health care coverage and retirement benefits as may be appropriate, consistent with the requirements of law and University policy." Under that Policy Statement, the University has classified postdocs as students for health care purposes, and the University's student health fee will be paid as a fringe benefit. The University will also pay for supplementary student health insurance for the employee, and the postdoc may pay to add family members to the insurance plan. Under this coverage, the postdoc first goes to the Student Health Center and may then be referred to outside primary health-care providers; family members may go directly to outside providers for health care. Note: Healthcare coverage ends the date the appointment ends (does not extend for 30 days). The University does not currently provide a retirement benefit but is exploring possible options for such a benefit.
The Postdoc Medical Insurance premium for the academic year (2019-2020) is below.
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Student Health Center
Total Postdoc Medical Insurance
For questions regarding eligibility, please contact Tangie Betterson in the Office of Academic Budget and Personnel at 704-687-5242.
For policy coverage details go to the “Student Blue” portal of Blue Cross/Blue Shield: www.bcbsnc.com/content/studentblue
For plan or claims information or other questions, contact BCBSNC Customer Service at:
Note: Coverage begins the first of the month following the month of hire and ends the last day of the month of appointment (does not extend for 30 days).
Resources for Postdocs
The UNC Charlotte Advance Faculty Affairs and Diversity Office offers resources for postdocs.