What is a Postdoctoral Scholar?
Postdoctoral Scholars conduct research under the guidance of a Faculty Mentor. The postdoctoral appointment prepares researchers for careers in academia, industry, government, the nonprofit sector or numerous other fields. For many, especially those in the physical and life sciences, postdoctoral traineeships are a critical step in securing future employment.
A postdoc is an individual who:
- Has been awarded a doctoral degree (or equivalent) within the past ten years.
- Will pursue a full-time program of advanced training and research under the direction of a faculty member with an appointment in an academic department or organized research unit.
- Will be supported by campus research grants or contracts, by fellowships administered by the campus, or by other external sources.
- May not have had more than five years of postdoctoral experience, including at other institutions.
- May not have held or hold a tenure-track professorial appointment (assistant professor, associate professor, or professor).
Postdoctoral Scholar Categories
Postdoctoral appointment titles differ with respect to compensation, benefits, and taxation. The source of support determines the category of the postdoc. UC Merced, postdoctoral appointments fall into four categories.
- Postdoctoral Scholar - Employee, Job Code 3252
An appointment is made in the title "Postdoctoral Scholar - Employee" when: The agency funding the salary requires or permits the appointee to be an employee of the University, or whenever General Funds, Opportunity Funds or other University discretionary funds are used to support the position.
- Postdoctoral Scholar - Fellow, Job Code 3253
An appointment is made in the title "Postdoctoral Scholar - Fellow" when the Postdoctoral Scholar has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the fellowship or traineeship is paid through a university account.
- Postdoctoral Scholar - Paid Direct, Job Code 3254
An appointment is made in the title "Postdoctoral Scholar - Paid Direct" when the Postdoctoral Scholar has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the agency pays the fellowship or traineeship directly to the Postdoctoral Scholar, rather than through the university. Such appointments shall have a "without-salary" status.
- Interim Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee, Job Code3256
An appointment is made in the title “Interim Postdoctoral Scholar--Employee” when UCM graduate students who recently obtained their PhD degree or equivalent who need a short-term (cumulative total of 12 months in one or multiple) appointment to complete an existing project from their graduate educational programs before moving on to other employment.
Postdoctoral Scholars may be assigned to more than one Postdoctoral Scholar title concurrently depending on university and extramural funding agency requirements.
The Postdoctoral Scholar Appointment Process
All postdoctoral appointments begin with a formal recruitment. Appointees must be offered positions by a School Dean, the Graduate Dean, or the Director of an Organized Research Unit (ORU). Offer letters must clearly state the:
- Length of the appointment.
- Amount of annual compensation.
- Category of postdoctoral appointment being offered.
- Relevant information regarding benefits associated with the offer.
Offer letters should be sent at least one month prior to the start date of the appointment. Potential postdoctoral appointees must also accept the offer in writing. Please work with your sponsoring unit staff for more details on the appointment process.
Terms of Appointment
All postdoctoral appointments are initially for a one-year period. All postdocs are required to work and be compensated at 100-percent time. Exceptions to less than full-time appointments must be initiated by the postdoc and endorsed by the appropriate university officials.
The reappointment process must be initiated by the current Postdoctoral Scholar's PI or Faculty Advisor, and processed through the School or ORU. Make sure to speak with your PI or Faculty Advisor several months prior to termination of the existing appointment to determine if a reappointment will be offered.
List of Sponsoring Academic Units at UC Merced
School of Engineering
Petra Martins, Personnel Services Assistant
School of Natural Sciences
Sauci Xiong, Academic Personnel Specialist
School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
Becky Smith, Manager of Academic Personnel
Sierra Nevada Research Institute
Coty Ventura, Business Officer
Health Sciences Research Institute
Leann Nascimento, Business Manager
International Postdoctoral Scholars
If you are a citizen of another country, you must have the appropriate visa type, and visa arrangements must be made several months prior to your planned arrival date or visa renewal date. The appropriate visa status is critical to gain or retain an appointment and to remain in the country. You are encouraged to work with your prospective sponsoring unit staff, ORU staff or your advisor to coordinate visa requests through the UC Merced Office International Affairs.
Office of International Affairs