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 PhD or equivalent doctorate (e.g., ScD, MD) in an appropriate field
  • 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 appointment is not part of a clinical training program
  • 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.)
  • 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:

  • 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).
  • 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 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 approver 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.  Completed enrollment and benefits forms should be emailed to Postdocs have 30 days only from the date of their appointment to enroll in benefits.

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