Postdoctoral scholars (postdocs) are an important part of the research mission of the University of California.
Here you'll find the resources, assistance, and guidance you need to continue your successful academic careers.
A postdoctoral appointment is a temporary one designed to give individuals an opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The time spent as a postdoc is in preparation for a career progression in academia, industry, government, the nonprofit sector or numerous other fields. For many, especially those in the physical and life sciences, postdoctoral work is 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.
- Cannot have held or hold a tenure-track professorial appointment (assistant professor, associate professor, or professor).
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 three 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.
Postdoctoral Scholars may be assigned to more than one Postdoctoral Scholar title concurrently depending on university and extramural funding agency requirements.
All postdoctoral appointments begin with a formal recruitment. Appointees must be offered positions by the Dean or Director of School or 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 beginning 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 postdoc's PI or advisor, and processed through the School or ORU. Make sure to speak with your PI or advisor several months in advance 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
Annie Rossi, Academic Support 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
Trevor Hirst, Executive Director
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
Postdoctoral scholar compensation is based on the agreement reached with the UAW (the Union representing postdocs at UC) and relate to the current NIH/NRSA guidelines as allowed in the Union contract. Postdocs must be hired at or above the new minimum on the current scale. Base pay levels are outlined in the University of California compensation scale.
The NIH/NRSA scale for postdocs can be found on the NIH website.
To find funding opportunities available to postdocs, visit the funding opportunities calendar maintained by Research Development Services or contact Susan Carter, Director of Research Development Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other postdoctoral funding opportunities:
- UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
- Minority Postdoc (features information about jobs, funding, fellowships, mentoring, and diversity issues for current and future postdocs, especially in STEM disciplines)
The University offers the Postdoctoral Scholars a Health and Welfare package through Garnett-Powers Associates:
The Postdoctoral Scholar Benefits Plan (PSBP) provides a comprehensive program which offers Medical, Dental, Vision, Life and AD&D Insurance, Short-Term Disability Insurance and Voluntary Long-Term Disability Insurance. The Standard Life Insurance program includes Medical Evacuation and Repatriation for visa holders. PSBP is comprised of the following plans, some of which offer you the choice between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) model.
PSBP Plan Information
Visit the 2018 UC Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plans page to find the following:
- Medical Plans Overview
- Dental Plan Overview
- Vision Plans Overview
- Life Insurance Plan Overview
- Short and Long-Term Disability Plan Overview
- Wellness Programs Overview
For information on the settlement agreement with UAW detailing what a postdoc and what the UC will pay for various benefits, please see the Monthly Rates, University Contributions, & Postdoctoral Scholar Contributions (under "2018 Plan Rates").
Policies and procedures regarding terms and conditions of appointments or benefits in the Postdoctoral series which are not included on this site, are contained in Merced Academic Personnel Policies & Procedures (MAPP), APM 390, Garnett-Powers & Associates, Inc. and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA shall prevail if there is a conflict between the website, the MAPP, APM, Garnett-Powers & Associate website and the CBA.
Questions About Postdoc Benefits?
UC Merced Academic Personnel
UC Merced does not have on-campus housing for postdoctoral scholars. However, Merced as a community has a large variety of different types of housing both close to the campus and/or close to public transportation to campus. Please go to the off-campus housing website to learn more and to contact staff in Housing that may be able to help individuals find living spaces in the Merced area.
Information on getting to UC Merced from the surrounding areas, getting around on campus, as well as parking on campus can be found at the UC Merced Transportation and Parking Services website.
Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS)
The CatCard is the official UC Merced identification card that allows you access to multiple services on campus. To obtain your CatCard, please follow the instructions on the CatCard website, then visit room 111A on the first floor of the Kolligian Library.
Please see the CatCard website for information on CatCard policies and to contact CatCard services directly.
To get your official UC Merced email address, you must already have been appointed as a postdoctoral scholar and entered into the UC Merced system. To set up your email address, complete the User ID Services UCMNetID claim form. Once your email address is verified, you can access your email online at mymail.ucmerced.edu. For assistance with setting up, accessing or connecting to your email account, contact:
IT Help Desk
All income from postdoctoral appointments is subject to state and federal tax. For "Postdoctoral Scholar-Employees," i.e. postdocs in title code 3252, taxes are withheld from salaries paid through the payroll system. For California residents, US citizens, or Permanent Residents, no taxes are withheld from traineeships or fellowships.
For international postdocs, federal taxes are withheld unless there is a tax treaty between the US and the postdoc's country. Please refer to the Office of International Affairs for current tax treaty information. For Postdocs who are not California residents, but who are US citizens or permanent residents, federal taxes are not withheld; however, state tax is withheld if the recipient receives more than $9,000 in funds in a calendar year. For tax withholding, Postdocs are considered California residents if they will reside in California 12 months or more.
The University does not report scholarship and fellowship grant payments to the IRS. If postdocs are unsure of the amount of stipend received in a given year, they should contact their sponsoring unit to determine stipend amounts. Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Paid Directs should consult the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a tax adviser concerning payment of estimated quarterly taxes.
Postdoctoral Scholars within the University of California system are exclusively represented by the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).
For information on the settlement agreement with UAW detailing what a postdoc and what the UC will pay for various benefits, please see the chart Appendix A.