Postdoc Appointments

Postdoctoral scholar (postdoc) appointments at UC Berkeley are rigorous research experiences that offer recent Ph.D. recipients a chance to pursue their research agendas, build on their degrees, hone their skills and abilities, prepare to launch their professional careers, and take the next step in their professions. 

Appointment Criteria

  • Requires doctoral degree (e.g. Ph.D., M.D.) or the foreign equivalent.
  • Excluded are individuals pursuing clinical fellowships and residencies in the health sciences.

Definitions and Titles

Postdoc appointments fall into categories called "title codes" in the University personnel system and are determined by how you are paid. Note that a postdoc may be appointed under more than one title code, since there may be more than one source of funding for an appointment, which is based on the type of appointment funding you have. Your offer letter will also list your specific title. Postdoc appointment titles vary in compensation, benefits, and taxation. The main appointment types fall into five categories, determined by the source of support: 

Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (Title Code 3252)

Employee appointments are made when the agency funding the salary requires the postdoc to be an employee of the University, or when General Funds, Opportunity Funds, or other UC Berkeley discretionary funds are used to support the position.

Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellow (Title Code 3253)

Fellow appointments are reserved for postdocs who have been awarded a fellowship or traineeship by an external agency for postdoctoral training at UC Berkeley. The fellowship must be paid through a UC Berkeley account.

Postdoctoral Scholar – Paid Direct (Title Code 3254)

Paid Direct appointments are for postdocs who have been awarded a fellowship or traineeship by an external agency and are paid directly by the fellowship, rather than by UC Berkeley. These appointments are classified as “without-salary”.

Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee NEX (Title Code 3255)

Employee NEX appointments are postdocs who are considered non-exempt employees and earn less than the Department of Labor minimum of $684 per week or $35,568 annually for a full-year worker)

Interim Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (Title Code 3256)

Interim Employee appointments are designated for UC Berkeley doctoral graduates who are finishing up a project and will continue to provide research within a UC campus for less than a year.

Postdoctoral Scholar - LBL/DOE (Title Code CWR002)

LBL/DOE appointments are made when the postdoc is employed both by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and a UC Berkeley faculty sponsor. This appointment is required if the LBL postdoc needs a UC Berkeley affiliation in the UCPath system.

Postdoctoral Scholar - UC Employee-Different BU (Title Code CWR017)

The Contingent Worker Title UC Employee-Different BU - CWR017 designation is used when the Postdoctoral Scholar is affiliated with another UC campus during the appointment.

Terms of Service

  • Appointments are temporary and have fixed end dates.
  • Initial appointments of Postdoctoral Scholar-Employees (title code 3252) with the University are for a minimum of two years.
    • Release
      • The University has the sole discretion to release a Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee on their anniversary date. The University shall provide at least thirty (30) calendar days written notice of the release before the first anniversary date.
      • The notice must be issued by the first anniversary date. If the notice is not provided at least thirty (30) calendar days before the first anniversary date, the release shall be effective thirty calendar days from the date the notice is provided.
    • Future UC Employment as a Postdoctoral Scholar
      • A postdoctoral scholar who was released as described above shall be eligible to obtain a new appointment at the University.
      • If the postdoctoral scholar is separated from service three (3) months or less, the provisions for reappointment apply (see union contract Article 2, B.2.c
      • If the postdoctoral scholar is separated from service for more than three (3) months, and is appointed to another postdoctoral scholar appointment at the University, the postdoctoral scholar will receive a new two-year initial appointment under the provisions of the Release provision above.
      • In order to be appointed for a new two-year appointment, a Postdoctoral Scholar must meet eligibility (maximum of five years' service as a postdoc).
  • Reappointments of postdocs from any title into the Postdoctoral Scholar-Employee (title code 3252) may be for one year.  However, reappointment shall be for a minimum of one year; however, reappointment may be for less than one year under the following circumstances and noted in the reappointment letter: 
    • Less than one year of programmatic work
    • Exhausted eligibility as a postdoctoral scholar (maximum service as a postdoc is five years; sixth year by exception)
    • Work authorization limitations
  • For Postdoctoral Scholar-Fellows and Postdoctoral Scholar-Paid Directs, the appointment duration is the length of their fellowship award funding.
  • It is within the University’s sole discretion to appoint, reappoint or not reappoint a postdoc.
  • The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service may not exceed five years, including postdoctoral service at other institutions. Under unusual circumstances the University may grant an exception to this limit, not to exceed a sixth year.

Appointment Details

Initial postdoc appointments are full-time positions that typically last between one and two years (depending on title code), up to a maximum reappointment of five years with a rare exception of a sixth year. These scholars are expected to work a full 40-hour week, although postdocs can apply for exceptions if they receive approval from University officials, including their faculty mentor. Please note that postdocs may not have previously held a tenure-track professorial appointment, including assistant professor, associate professor, or professor. 

New Postdoc Orientation 

The VSPA hosts a New Affiliate Orientation for Postdocs, Visiting Scholars, and Visiting Student Researchers on the first Thursday of each month (with holiday exceptions) from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. In this meeting, you will learn about campus resources, and health and retirement benefits, connect with your peers and have an opportunity to ask questions. Postdoc attendance is mandatory per the union contract. Postdocs will meet confidentially with union representatives for 30 minutes at the end of the VSPA presentation at 10:30 am. Click to register for the next session.

Postdoc Collective Bargaining Contract 

Postdocs, regardless of their funding source, are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. See the new contract that has been extended through September 30, 2027.

Compensation Details

The University has a minimum compensation policy. Postdocs whose fellowships pay less than the University minimum, depending on the number of years experience as a postdoc, may have their salary supplemented by other sources depending on the availability of funding. Benefits are included in the appointment.

Visit our postdoc compensation page for more information.

Appointment Process

Open postdoc positions are listed on AP Recruit. Postdocs that have been awarded an external fellowship should reach out to a desired faculty supervisor or campus unit to pursue a UC Berkeley affiliation and begin the appointment process.

If a prospective scholar does not meet these criteria and would still like to conduct short-term research at UC Berkeley, they should explore the Visiting Scholar or Visiting Student Researcher appointment guidelines. 

Important note: If a prospective scholar has an active postdoc appointment at another institution and wishes to conduct research at UC Berkeley, they cannot be a postdoc and must be onboarded as a Visiting Scholar by exceptional approval.