Postdoctoral Scholar Appointment

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Follow these guidelines for postdoctoral scholar appointments in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the University of California and the United Auto Workers union (UAW).

Appointment qualifications

Postdoctoral scholar appointments provide a full-time program of advanced academic preparation and research training under the direction and supervision of a faculty mentor. Postdoctoral scholar appointments are temporary and have fixed end dates. The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service may not exceed five years, including previous postdoctoral experience outside of UCSF. Under unusual circumstances, the University may grant an exception to this limit, not to exceed a sixth year.

To be appointed to a postdoctoral scholar title an individual must:

  • Possess a doctoral degree (e.g., PhD, MD, etc.) or foreign equivalent
  • Be funded by an organization or entity (e.g., research grant, training grant, fellowship, private/public agency, foreign government, another university, etc.).
  • Be assigned responsibilities primarily for advanced academic preparation and research training
  • Not have exceeded five years in prior postdoctoral scholar training 

Individuals pursuing clinical fellowships and residencies in the health sciences are excluded from appointment to these titles. The University has the sole discretion to appoint, reappoint, or not reappoint a postdoctoral scholar and to determine the duration of such appointments.

For more information related to the terms of service, review the Postdoctoral Scholar Contract, Article 2 Appointments

Appointment titles

Postdoctoral scholar appointment titles are determined by the source of funding:

  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee Job Code 003252: An appointment is made in this title when principal investigator (PI)-awarded extramural funding or other University discretionary funds are used to support the salary for the position.
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellow Job Code 003253: An appointment is made in this title when the postdoctoral scholar is awarded a fellowship or is appointed to a training grant (stipend) offered by an extramural agency. The money is granted to the University, which allows the stipend to be paid through a University account via the University’s payroll system.
  • Postdoctoral Scholar – Paid Direct Job Code 003254: An appointment is made in this title when the postdoctoral scholar is funded by an external agency and the agency pays the salary directly to the postdoctoral scholar, such that the funding does not flow through the University.
  • Interim Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee Job Code 003256: An appointment is made in this title when a University of California graduate student who recently obtained their PhD degree or equivalent needs a short-term appointment to complete an existing project from their graduate education program before moving on to other employment. This appointment is limited to individuals who have completed their graduate work within the University of California.

A postdoctoral scholar may hold two postdoctoral scholar titles concurrently if the funding sources are combined.

Employee steps


Funding support

If you are supported by your home institution funds or by an individual fellowship award, provide the UCSF sponsoring department with the fellowship award letter or home institution funding support letter. Note that your postdoctoral scholar appointment title is determined by your source of funding.


Terms of appointment

Discuss with your sponsoring faculty member and department the terms of your appointment, which include:
  • Source of funding
  • Salary
  • Visa sponsorship, if needed
  • Appointment length


Verification of documentation and finalization of appointment

When you receive an offer for appointment at UCSF as a postdoctoral scholar, review the terms of your appointment carefully. If clarification is required, contact your faculty/department sponsor or your HR generalist (trainees). Review and sign your offer and notice of appointment letter and return as directed. Respond to your generalist’s communications and directions in a timely manner. Any delay may impact your effective start date.  

Things to remember

  • Be sure to review all appointment documents and resources received from UCSF and contact your HR generalist (trainees) with any questions or concerns.
  • Keep in communication with your sponsoring faculty/department.
  • Review the tax implications and responsibilities of your postdoctoral scholar title.

Upon accepting your postdoctoral scholar appointment, please plan to attend the following orientations:

​Note: If you have a visa sponsorship and it is delayed or you need to change your appointment start date for any reason, please contact your generalist and PI as soon as possible.