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Postdoc guidelines


Postdoctoral Fellows at the University of Waterloo are engaged in a variety of research settings and exemplify the substantial variation in postdoctoral training. The university has developed a set of guidelines for postdocs. Postdocs are at a unique stage in their careers. The purpose of a postdoctoral position is to aid in the transition from student to independent scholar. In collaboration with a University of Waterloo faculty member, a postdoc engages in activities that will further his or her professional development. The postdoc position is intended to be transitional. Postdocs are appointed for definite terms.

  • Candidates must have completed their PhD or equivalent degree not more than 5 years (60 months) prior to an appointment start date.
    • Exceptions to the five-year post-PhD timeline may be made in extenuating circumstances, where there are recognized career interruptions (e.g. childrearing, illness, or family-related responsibilities).
  • The end date of any postdoctoral appointment must be earlier than 6 years (72 months) from the PhD conferral date.
  • The appointment is temporary (time limited).
  • The appointment is preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career.
  • The appointment engages a postdoctoral fellow in research and scholarship on a full-time basis as outlined in the appointment letter.
  • The postdoctoral fellow is not registered in another training program.
  • If permitted by the funding agency or (where he or she is providing the funding) the supervisor, postdoctoral fellows may apply to teach, normally no more than one course per year.

Applying for, and appointing postdoctoral fellows

Each Postdoctoral Fellow must be affiliated with a University of Waterloo faculty member whose responsibility it is to recruit, select and supervise postdoctoral fellows. Recruitment techniques include, but are not limited to posting of postdoc positions within the faculty member/supervisor's research area in national or local papers, or through websites. Faculty members may also have postdocs recommended to them by colleagues.

Prospective postdocs are encouraged to visit University of Waterloo department/school or faculty websites to identify individual faculty members who match their research interests. The prospective postdoc will make contact to inquire about the possibility of becoming a postdoc with the faculty member or her/his research team. An interview is usually necessary.


The maximum initial term of appointment is three years. The appointment shall expire, without any further payment obligations by the University, on the date specified in the letter of appointment. Appointment of a postdoc requires the approval of the Chair or Director of the department/school and the Faculty Dean. Either the Chair/Director or Dean, on the recommendation of the faculty member/ supervisor, signs an appointment letter which is countersigned by the postdoctoral fellow. The letter is accompanied by a Non-faculty employment form on the Human Resources website.

Elements of an appointment letter include:

  • the duration of the appointment (not more than three years with opportunity for renewal for up to a further three years);
  • identification of the stipend (minimum $30,121 per annum*, regardless of funding source); funding sources (e.g., faculty supervisor's grant or research resources);
  • postdoc-secured funding from an external granting agency or fellowship program or from a source outside Canada, such as a fellowship from the postdoctoral fellow's home country, university or a corporation);
  • any additional funding or additional support (e.g., conference support);
  • a description of postdoctoral duties;
  • confirmation of benefits, including health care if applicable, and vacation;
  • a statement concerning termination at any time for cause (e.g., failure to meet required standards);
  • a statement concerning early termination — in the event the position is discontinued, appropriate notice will be given in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Standards Act;
  • a link to the main Postdoctoral Affairs web page, which has information about services available to postdocs;
  • a recommendation to contact Human Resources for benefit and payroll information.


An extension of up to three years is permitted, subject to the approval of the Faculty Dean. The supervisor's written assessment should accompany any reappointment letter submitted for approval.

Responsibility: Postdoctoral fellow and supervisor

Postdoctoral fellows and their faculty supervisors must identify appropriate professional growth and career advancement goals and meet regularly (at least once per year) to assess progress and to ensure that goals are being achieved during the appointment at the University of Waterloo. For this reason, faculty members are encouraged to select postdocs who will contribute to their research/research teams and, in turn, provide the resources needed for postdocs to contribute to their field of interest through publications, professional presentations, and teaching/mentoring the activities of junior researchers and graduate students.

*minimum stipend updated on February 1, 2024, please review the Office of Reserach website for more details on recommended salary and benefit rates