Postdoctoral Scholars

What is a Biological Sciences Division (BSD) Postdoctoral Scholar?

BSD Postdoctoral Scholars (PDSs) are Divisional appointments with staff benefits intended for postdoctoral training and are generally supported by restricted funds. PDS appointments are generally for a 12-month term. Each PDS will have a primary faculty sponsor who will be responsible for developing a mentoring program for the trainee with clearly established expectations and goals. If you are switching from Postdoc Scholar to Fellow, the PDA has developed a checklist available here.


  • PDSs should have received a doctoral degree within 5 years of commencement of a PDS’s term (the time attributed to house staff or clinical fellowships is not considered, and, in extraordinary circumstances, the time in postdoctoral training in a different area of scientific specialty is not considered).
  • PDSs may be citizens/permanent residents of the United States or foreign nationals who hold an F-1, J-1 or H-1B BCIS visa classification. PDSs must have a current faculty member at the University of Chicago as the sponsor.
  • PDSs are eligible for reappointment if, the PDS remains in the faculty sponsor’s laboratory for a second (or subsequent) year; is in good standing, having documented progress towards training goals; and if the faculty sponsor’s funding continues to support the appointment. See BSD Postdoctoral Reappointment form.
  • PDSs may not generally hold this status (or any combination of relevant postdoctoral experience) for longer than 5 years.



PDSs will receive a training commitment from the faculty sponsor and will be periodically reviewed for purposes of evaluation and setting goals for the training experience. Faculty Sponsors shall prepare a Mentoring Plan, which generally satisfies the “Guide For Mentoring plan for Postdoctoral Scholars” which is available from the BSD Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.



Compensation for PDSs will be generally consistent with current NIH/NRSA levels in accordance with the BSD Compensation Guidelines for Postdoctoral Trainees; but is no less than the minimum established by the NIH (for more information, please see our Policies & Benefits page). Salary will be paid monthly.



Gallagher Benefit Services administers benefits for postdoctoral scholars, fellows and visiting scholars. PDSs are required to enroll in health insurance. Gallagher also offers dental and vision insurance, and life insurance. See Gallagher Benefit Services for details.

Retirement Plan – PDSs contribute to an employee retirement plan.



Appointment Length – PDSs appointments are generally for a 12 month term.

Term Limit – PDSs are limited to a maximum of 5 years total postdoctoral experience, including appointments at The University of Chicago and elsewhere.  A 6th year may be petitioned.

Administrative Appointment

To initiate appointment, the Faculty Sponsor shall submit the following documentation to the Office of Academic Affairs:

  1. Department endorsement of the appointment as a training experience
  2. Description of the training/mentoring commitment and terms for evaluation
  3. Compliance Screening certification
  4. Citizenship form and appropriate visa documentation
  5. Health Insurance enrollment form or proof of health insurance coverage
  6. Current curriculum vitae
  7. Completed “5-point” memorandum, for MD/PhD candidates addressing the restrictions on patient care

Appointment of a PDS requires the recommendation of the Department and/or Faculty Sponsor depending on Departmental policy, and approval by the Dean.


Leave Policy

PDSs are entitled to four weeks of compensated leave during each 12-month term appointment, and up to 12 days of compensated sick leave per 12-month term. This combined time may be used as parental leave. Use of leave time must be coordinated with the faculty sponsor and must be taken during the term of appointment. There shall be no accruals of either vacation leave or sick leave beyond the term of appointment. As employees, PDSs are eligible for Short-term or Long-term disability, Personal Leave of Absence or leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.


Income Taxes and FICA

Federal, state taxes and F.I.C.A. contribution are deducted through payroll.


Visa Restrictions

PDSs may be citizens/permanent residents of the United States or foreign nationals who hold an F-1, J-1 or H-1B BCIS visa classification. PDSs must have a current faculty member at the University of Chicago as the sponsor.


University Housing

PDSs are eligible for University Staff/Faculty housing. However, PDSs are ineligible for the Employer-Assisted Housing Program and Staff Loan Programs.


Staff and Faculty Assistance Program

The Staff and Faculty Assistance Program (Perspectives, Ltd) is a confidential service that provides support, counseling, referrals and resources for issues that impact your life.

PDSs are not eligible for the Laboratory Schools tuition benefit, reduced tuition at the University of Chicago or commuter benefits.