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Become a postdoc

Thank you for your interest in The University of Waterloo, one of Canada's premier research-intensive universities. Our international reputation for excellence and innovation attracts some of the most innovative and creative researchers in the world, including approximately 400 postdocs. 

1. Find a postdoc position

Each postdoctoral fellow must be affiliated with a University of Waterloo faculty member whose responsibility it is to recruit, select and supervise postdoctoral fellows. Postdoctoral fellows are considered employees at University of Waterloo.

There is no central recruitment or application process, with the exception of a few internally run funding competitions listed on our postdoc funding webpage

At University of Waterloo, the majority of postdoctoral fellowship opportunities may be found by reaching out to professors who may be hiring postdocs with their own research funds, or by postdocs bringing their own funding (via an external award or fellowship) to the University and finding a supervisor who is interested in supervising their work.

If you are interested in finding a postdoctoral position where you are paid by a supervisor’s grant, explore faculty/department websites, and academic organization websites in your field. Most postings are not posted publicly, however, so Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) recommends reaching out to professors whose research interests align with your own to ask if they are looking to hire a postdoc. You may directly contact a faculty member with related research interests even if there are no current postings in that area.

2. Review additional steps for international postdocs

International postdoctoral fellows must have an Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) work permit prior to coming to Waterloo to assume a postdoctoral fellowship. Processing times can be slow. If you are an international postdoc, begin exploring the procedures you will need to follow to obtain approval to work in Canada. Help can also be provided by University of Waterloo's Visa and Immigration Support Services (Legal and Immigration Services).

3. Come to an agreement in principle with your supervisor

Items for discussion: 

  • Start/end dates and possibilities for contract extensions
  • Compensation
  • Benefits, including how the cost of extended health care benefits (if applicable) will be paid
  • Time off (holidays, sick days)
  • Professional development
  • Teaching opportunities
  • Expectations re: publications, working hours, etc.

4. Review the Postdoctoral Guidelines

Review the Postdoc guidelines to understand what you can expect in the appointment process. Review the main elements of an appointment letter so you know what to expect.

5. Review your appointment letter carefully before signing

Appointment letters are contractual agreements. Be sure you understand and/or negotiate aspects of the letter that you are unfamiliar or unhappy with prior to signing. If you are an international postdoc, the terms and/or conditions in the appointment letter cannot be changed after immigration has been approved. For example, if the terms of your postdoc do not outline teaching responsibilities, you cannot take up a teaching position on this work permit. Additionally, a contract extension or reappointment will require an updated work permit. 

If you have concerns, contact Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs or Human Resources.

Figure out how much you will get paid after taxes and benefit costs (if applicable) are deducted by using the net pay/benefit cost eximator found on the Human Resources payroll webpage.  

Note that all individuals working in Canada, including non-Canadian citizens (and international postdocs from date of arrival), are required to pay provincial and federal taxes on all income earned in Canada. Postdoctoral Fellows appointed at the University of Waterloo who receive income from the University will have Income Tax, Canada Pension and Employment Insurance deducted monthly. Other applicable deductions are based on the information submitted to the Human Resources Department from a TD1 Tax Credit Form. Annually, every person earning an income in Canada submits a Canada Customs & Revenue tax return.

6. Sign the appointment letter

When you are comfortable with your appointment letter, sign it and sign the non-faculty appointment form. 

If you are an international postdoc, you can begin application for your work permit once you receive the proof of submission for the Offer of Employment/LMIA exemption (IMM5802 submission e-receipt). If this is a reappointment or contract extension, new documentation to support your work permit application will be required.

7. Get set up at University of Waterloo

Review the new postdoc checklist at University of Waterloo.