Skip to main content

Postdoc Categories

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at Northwestern University supports five different categories of postdoctoral appointments. The benefits available to you as a postdoctoral trainee vary according to your appointment classification. Information on each type of appointment and its associated benefits are included below. Any additional questions can be directed to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Postdoctoral Scholars are individuals with recently granted degrees of PhD or MD, or the equivalent terminal degree, who are primarily involved in continuing postgraduate education or training in conducting research. Postdoctoral scholars are normally paid through the University payroll system and are considered employees of the University.

Benefit eligibility and provider

Vacation, holiday, and sick time

Pay standard

  • Minimum of $47,476

Mental health and wellness benefits

Postdoctoral Fellow-NRSA

NRSA postdoctoral fellows are recipients of National Research Service Award (NRSA) funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - both those receiving fellowships as individuals (F32) and those receiving support from institutional training grants (T32). As provided by the terms of the award, NRSA postdoctoral fellows are considered to be trainees rather than employees of the NIH or of the University.

Please note that your benefit eligibility and payroll tax deductions will change as a result of being funded by an NRSA fellowship. Your local department administrators should be your first point of contact to learn more about these changes. If additional information is needed, please contact Michael McGandy, Human Resources Generalist, at michael.mcgandy@northwestern.edu.

Benefit eligibility and provider

Vacation, holiday, and sick time

  • Yes, allowed paid vacation per NRSA guidelines, 60 days maternity or family, 15 days sick.

Pay standard

Mental health and wellness benefits

Postdoctoral Fellow-Direct Fellowship

Direct Postdoctoral Fellows are individuals with recently granted degrees of PhD or MD, or the equivalent terminal degree, who are primarily involved in continuing postgraduate education or training in conducting research. Direct Postdoctoral Fellows are solely appointed at Northwestern but are paid primarily by an external grant or fellowship, and whose fellowship pay is not directed through the University. Direct Postdoctoral Fellows must still make a minimum salary of at least $47,476. Fellowships that do not pay this minimum may be "topped up" by sponsoring Northwestern PIs via institutional and/or sponsored funds as allowed by the fellowship policies. NSF may only be "topped up" by non-sponsored funds as determined by the NSF. Direct Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible for University staff benefits, but instead are eligible for benefits through Garnett Powers.

Benefit eligibility and provider

Vacation, holiday, and sick time

  • Varies by fellowship, please check your fellowship's policies. If leave is not specified in your fellowship's policies, defer for the institutional leave policies outlined for postdoctoral scholars above.
  • NSF fellows allowed 30 days paid leave for maternity or family leave and may take short leave over major holidays. 

Pay standard

  • Follow fellowship stipends. Must make minimum salary of $47,476.
  • Northwestern PIs may top up this stipend with sponsored or non-sponsored funds.

Mental health and wellness benefits

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are individuals with recently granted degrees of PhD, MD, or the equivalent professional degree. To be considered Visiting, they must hold a postdoctoral appointment at another institution or university. Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows are not employees of the University and are unpaid. They must receive their funding directly from their home institution. Visiting status is only approved upon receipt of documentation of external (to Northwestern) appointment and support.

Benefit eligibility and provider

  • No, benefits are provided by the home institution.
  • Domestic Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows must reach out to their health insurance provider to change insurance policies so it can be used in Illinois (from HMO to PPO for instance), and this change will count as a qualifying life change.
  • International Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows can obtain insurance from Risk Management's Visiting Scholar Plan.
  • More information can be found on the Non-Employee Postdoctoral Scholars Benefit Program page.

Vacation, holiday, and sick time

  • No

Pay standard

  • Paid by home institution.
  • Does not need to make minimum, follow Visiting Scholar rules.

Mental health and wellness benefits

  • Benefits outlined by individual's insurance plan.

WCAS Teaching and Research Postdoctoral Fellows (Formerly Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows)

Specialized appointment in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. These are considered teaching postdoctoral fellows and can be indicated by the appointment indicator value of ‘Teaching Post Doc’. Postdoctoral Fellows are individuals with recently granted degrees of PhD or MD, or the equivalent terminal degree, who are primarily involved in continuing post graduate education or training in conducting research. These fellows are normally paid through the University payroll system and have research faculty appointments. They are designated as faculty because they teach, generally three courses per academic year.

Benefit eligibility and provider

Vacation, holiday, and sick time

Pay standard

  • Minimum of $47,476

Mental health and wellness benefits