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Applying for, and appointing postdoctoral fellows

Each Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) 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 PDF positions within the faculty member/supervisor's research area in national or local papers, or through web sites. Faculty members may also have PDFs recommended to them by colleagues.

Prospective PDFs are encouraged to visit University of Waterloo department/school or faculty websites to identify individual faculty members who match their research interests. The prospective PDF will make contact to inquire about the possibility of becoming a PDF 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 PDF 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 (doc).

Elements of an appointment letter include:

  • the duration of the appointment (not more than three years and limited opportunity for renewal for up to a further three years);
  • identification of the stipend (minimum $30,000 per annum, regardless of funding source); funding sources (e.g., faculty supervisor's grant or research resources;
  • PDF-secured funding from an external granting agency or fellowship program or from a source outside Canada, such as a fellowship from the PDF'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 (for reasons such as cessation of funding) by giving two months' notice or, in the case of the University, payment in lieu of notice of the amount of the stipend that would have been earned over the two-month period;
  • a link to the main Postdoctoral Office website, which has information about services available to postdocs;
  • a recommendation to contact Glenda Rutledge in Human resources; Glenda supports PDFs


In special circumstances, an extension of up to three years is permitted, subject to the approval of the Faculty Dean and the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies. The supervisor's written assessment should accompany any reappointment letter submitted for approval.

Responsibility: PDF 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 PDFs who will contribute to their research/research teams and, in turn, provide the resources needed for PDFs to contribute to their field of interest through publications, professional presentations, and teaching/mentoring the activities of junior researchers and graduate students.