This page has been updated in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Please be sure to read the highlighted information below. (Updated 10/14/20)

Formerly research associate or senior fellow who meet the bargaining unit definition.

Appointment Details

  • Title: Postdoctoral scholar
  • Service Period: 12 months
  • Limitations on Appointment: An appointment made when the agency funding the salary requires or permits the appointee to be an employee of the University, or whenever General Funds or other University discretionary funds are used to support the position. Required completion of doctoral degree (PhD or equivalent). Appointment not to exceed 5 years, including postdoctoral  experience(s) at UW and other institutions. Under extraordinary circumstances (e.g., family leave or personal illness), an exception to the 5 year eligibility limit may be granted by Academic HR.* Postdoctoral scholars are engaged in full-time mentored advanced training to enhance professional skills and research independence, and perform primarily research and scholarship under the direction and supervision of University faculty mentors.
  • Length of appointment: Initial appointment shall be for a minimum of 1 year (see “Reappointment Details” below for appointments after the first year). Note that if an interim postdoctoral scholar title was held prior to this title, their hire date shall remain the original date of appointment into the interim title. 
  • Eligible for Tenure: No
  • Voting Rights: No
  • Salary Requirements: Must meet minimum requirements for postdoctoral scholars, as specifically outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Full-time/part-time: Full time. The only exception to the full-time requirement shall be made to a select group of individuals appointed in the Department of Mathematics. For this group only, appointments that meet the definition of Postdoctoral Scholars will reflect only the portion of their job responsibilities not related to teaching, and will be no less than 50%.
  • Promotable: No
  • Competitive Recruitment Required: No
  • Additional Information: Individuals in postdoctoral scholar titles may not be: i) privileged as attending physicians within the context of their University responsibilities; ii) enrolled in clinical residency and fellowship programs in the health sciences; iii) engaged in research related to their clinical training program; or iv) employed and paid directly by non-University entities (e.g., individuals paid directly by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Veterans Administration, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the U.S. Military). Please contact if you have any questions. 

New Appointment Details

    • Educational/Experience Requirements: Doctoral degree (PhD or equivalent), must be conferred by the appointment start date.**
    • Documentation Required:


  • Offer letter with new template language (see resources section below)



  • Curriculum vitae


  • Proof of degree conferral if doctoral degree acquired within 1 year prior to appointment start date: must include a copy of the degree certificate; an official transcript bearing the official seal of the institution; or a formal statement from the university’s registrar or graduate school with an official seal or notary stamp.


Note: OAP is no longer collecting background checks. Please check with your school/college/campus for local requirements related to this position.
**Conditional Designation: If a postdoctoral scholar has completed all doctoral degree requirements and is awaiting degree conferral, they may be appointed on a conditional basis. This conditional designation is allowable for a maximum of 12 months. Upon degree conferral, the position converts to postdoctoral scholar.

If a degree is not conferred or if no evidence of degree conferral is provided, the University will notify the postdoctoral scholar that the required documentation has not been received and will state the date on which the appointment and position will terminate if documentation is not provided.

Time in the conditional designation will count toward the 5 years of postdoctoral scholar experience eligibility.

Promotion Details

  • Not a promotable title.

Reappointment Details

  • Must be provided with notice of reappointment as soon as practicable, but no less than 30 calendar days prior to the start of reappointment.
  • May not be renewed for more than 5 years (inclusive of all postdoctoral experiences), with exception for extraordinary circumstances (e.g., family leave or personal illness) considered by Academic HR.*
  • Reappointments must be for a minimum of 1 year, except that a reappointment may be for a lesser duration if any of the following apply: a) there is insufficient funding for a full year, b) the continuation of the project is less than 1 year, c) visa limitations, or d) eligibility within the postdoctoral scholar title has been exhausted.
  • Documentation Required (this documentation is required for every reappointment action):

Termination Details

  • Academic unit administrators should contact UW Labor Relations in all circumstances related to terminations.
  • In the event of a layoff (i.e., an involuntary separation or reduction in the duration of appointment after the first year, as a result of appropriate funding becoming unavailable), postdoctoral scholars should be notified about the termination date of their appointment at least 60 calendar days in advance of the effective date of the layoff.

Additional Resources

Postdoctoral bargaining unit definition and collective bargaining agreement

Job post language

Postdoctoral Scholar Data Sheet

Offer letter template

Exception Form: Extraordinary Circumstances for Family Care and/or Personal Illness

Exception Form: Extraordinary Circumstances for Significant Disruptions in Training and Research Related to COVID-19 *

*From April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2022, exceptions to the 5-year postdoctoral experience limit may be considered on a case-by-case basis by Academic HR in its sole discretion. A single extension of up to 1 year may be considered, for a maximum total of 6 years of postdoctoral experience. Specifically, reappointment to a sixth year (inclusive of all postdoctoral experience) may be considered in instances where existing training and research plans have been significantly disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Requests must: 1) articulate how unanticipated conditions related to COVID-19 have significantly disrupted progress in training and research; and 2) attest that full funding for the research is, at least as it is known at the time of the exception request, in place through the duration of the proposed extension. In this circumstance, academic units must complete the Exceptions for Extraordinary Circumstances form (see above). These exception requests will only be considered for postdoctoral scholars in their fifth year of postdoctoral experience (i.e., those who have more than 48 months of postdoctoral experience) in the time period between April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021.

Note: Qualifying dates for COVID-19-related exception requests updated October 14, 2020