Postdoctoral Fellows

To understand what defines a postdoctoral fellow, the following information has been excerpted from the "AAU Committee on Postdoctoral Education Report".

Definition of a Postdoctoral Appointment

  • The appointee was recently awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) in an appropriate field; and
  • the appointment is temporary; and
  • the appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship; and
  • the appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career; and
  • the appointment is not part of a clinical training program; and
  • the appointee works under the supervision of a senior scholar or a department in a university or similar research institution (e.g., national laboratory, NIH, Mellon, etc.); and,
  • the appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.

-From the "AAU Committee on Postdoctoral Education 1998 Report and Recommendations"

Appointment/Reappointment Request

Postdoctoral fellow appointments follow the same sequence as faculty appointments. The request for appointment is written by the department chair to the appropriate vice dean.  Following is a list of items to be included in postdoctoral fellow request letter, along with a completed appointment form:

  • Name of the department/program/institute in which the position will reside
  • Period of appointment, generally one year (e.g. July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013)
  • In reappointment requests, state the number of years this person has already served as a postdoctoral fellow (generally postdocs serve no more than 3-4 years).
  • The record (talley) of the vote of all the departmental tenure/tenure-track faculty
  • Proof of PhD.  (The prospective postdoctoral fellow is to provide this proof to the department chair, to be included in the letter.)
  • Amount of compensation, source of compensation, and whether or not the position includes full-time, part-time or TLC benefits
  • Current vita

Letters of request and materials should be sent to:

When the appointment has been approved, the dean's office will send the confirmation letter to the postdoctoral fellow, with copies to the department's chair and administrator.  The administrator will process the necessary student payroll forms.

International Postdoctoral Fellow Appointments

Once the appointment has been accepted by an international postdoctoral fellow, the steps found on the International Services, Faculty Appointments section of this website, are crucial to the successful arrival of the international fellow to Johns Hopkins University.  International postdoctoral appointees must hold the appropriate J-1 visa.

Processing Payroll for a Postdoctoral Fellow

For purposes of processing payroll for a postdoctoral fellow, please note that all payroll processing goes through Student Employment.  When processing a hiring ISR for a postdoctoral fellow, the second approver will be a staff member in Student Employment.  If you do not know which approver to select, email Student Employment at to ask them which aprover to select.


Health Insurance

Postdoctoral fellows must have health insurance while at Johns Hopkins University.  If the postdoctoral fellow has another source of health insurance, they will need to submit a waiver form to the Office of the Registrar, 75 Garland Hall, 3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218.

If the postdoctoral fellow's health insurance is being charged to a department account, then the department administrator fills out the grant charge insurance form, making sure to select the coverage that is specified in the appointment letter.  The postdoctoral fellow brings the completed form to the Student Insurance Coordinator in the Office of the Registrar.  If a postdoctoral fellow wants more coverage than is specified in their appointment letter, they must pay the difference themselves.

For frequently asked questions regarding postdoctoral fellow health insurance, an FAQ was prepared by the dean's office in 2011. 

Other Benefits

Additional information on postdoctoral fellow benefits can be found in "New Postdoctoral Fellow Benefits."

Postdoctoral Fellow Resources

A thorough guide for postdoctoral fellows can be found at  Additionally, the website for the Johns Hopkins Homewood Postdoctoral Association, founded in 2007, can be found at




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