Pay Update for New or Reappointed Postdoctoral Scholars Effective March 1, 2024
On March 1, 2024, Northwestern will introduce an annual increase to the minimum salary for new or reappointed postdocs to match the minimum postdoctoral salary set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Postdoc recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult. With more than 1,000 postdocs who are integral to the University’s research and teaching enterprises, Northwestern is not alone. There is a documented challenge facing postdoc recruitment across the United States and Europe. When Northwestern last visited postdoc salaries in 2016, the minimum was set at $47,476. Since then, the average postdoc starting salary has increased across the country.
As the final stage before pursuing faculty positions or related careers, it is critical that postdoc training be welcoming and accessible for everyone, including women, parents, and individuals from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds. Moreover, international postdocs (60% of our postdoc population) also bear significant costs related to visas. Given that several years have passed since the last increase to our minimum salary, it is appropriate to adjust our policy to ensure that we are adequately compensating these employees who are critical to our research and teaching missions.
The Office of the Provost, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in The Graduate School, and the Office for Research have been monitoring postdoctoral salary trends carefully over the past several years. Together with the deans, we have agreed that we must raise the postdoc salary minimum. Here are the relevant updates:
- Starting March 1, 2024, the minimum salary for new or reappointed postdoctoral scholars at Northwestern will rise to the minimum postdoctoral salary set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- The current NIH minimum salary for a postdoc is $56,484. The NIH releases the new pay scale yearly, typically in February. We will share this update with faculty when it is announced. Any postdoc with a start date or reappointment date after this new policy goes into effect (March 1, 2024) must be appointed at the NIH minimum salary in effect at that time.
- In addition to raising the minimum salary for postdoctoral scholars at the time of appointment or reappointment, we encourage all faculty to compensate postdocs based on their level of experience and expertise.
Salary Equity in Labs/Departments
While Northwestern’s minimum postdoc salary will rise in March for new or reappointed postdocs, faculty as always remain free to pay above that rate. In fact, many Northwestern postdocs — including those at schools that already have adopted a new minimum — are paid above the minimum salary that will be implemented in March.
If faculty have postdocs earning less than the current NIH minimum, they do not need to wait for reappointment to raise their salary. We encourage all faculty and departments to set salaries holistically, considering postdocs’ skills and expertise. Moreover, in establishing new policy that resets the minimum, we encourage regular conversations between faculty mentors and postdocs that consider accomplishments, experience, and merit in setting appropriate annual salaries.
Thank you for your commitment to our postdoctoral scholars.
Provost and First Chicago Professor of Finance
Dean of The Graduate School and
Associate Provost for Graduate Education
Vice President for Research