Employment of Postdoctoral Fellows

University Policy: 
Executive Summary: 

This policy intends to make clear the terms of employment for Postdoctoral Fellows such as salary, benefits, and length of employment, as well as clarify their status as employees.  Postdocs are required to sign the “Agreement for Temporary Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment” form (AA-35).

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte hires Postdoctoral Fellows in a unique employment category as discussed below.

Definition of a Postdoctoral Fellow

The status "Postdoctoral Fellow" describes a professional apprenticeship designed to provide recent Ph.D. recipients with an opportunity to develop further the research skills acquired in their doctoral programs or to learn new research techniques, in preparation for an academic or research career. In the process of further developing their own research skills, Postdoctoral Fellows will play a significant role in the performance of research at the University and augment the role of graduate faculty in providing research instruction to graduate students. A Postdoctoral Fellow works under the supervision of a regular faculty member. Within the confines of the particular research focus assigned by that faculty member, the Postdoctoral Fellow functions with a considerable degree of independence and has the freedom (and is expected) to publish the results of their research or scholarship during the period of appointment. Thus, the role of Postdoctoral Fellows is clearly differentiated from full-time technical employees.

Postdoctoral Fellow appointments are characterized by all of the following conditions:

  • the appointee was recently (within the last eight years) awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) (upon recommendation of the dean and approval of the Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and/or review of the Vice Chancellor for Research, appointments may be offered to persons who are nearing completion of the doctoral degree);
  • the appointment is temporary, for up to one year at a time, with renewal possible;
  • the total appointment is limited to five years, including time spent in previous postdoctoral appointments at other institutions;
  • the appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship at 1.0 FTE;
  • the appointment helps the Postdoctoral Fellow to prepare for a full-time academic and/or research career;
  • the appointee works under the supervision of a regular faculty member; and
  • the appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of their research or scholarship during the period of appointment.



Each appointment of a Postdoctoral Fellow shall be for a fixed term not to exceed one year. A letter of appointment, Agreement for Post-Doctoral Fellow (AA-35), verification of employment, and PD-7 should be prepared for each such appointment. The appointment can be renewed for up to an additional one-year period at a time. All Postdoctoral Fellows must provide an original transcript of the highest earned degree and complete a Criminal Background Check with clearance before beginning employment.


The Graduate School, in coordination with the Vice Chancellor for Research, has the responsibility for monitoring and applying policies that relate to postdoctoral appointments.

Research Data, Records, Products, and Intellectual Property

All data, software, and research records generated in the course of research at UNC Charlotte remain the property of the University. As a condition of appointment, all Postdoctoral Fellows must sign a patent agreement concerning patent and software policy and ownership of intellectual property.

Dismissal prior to the end of a term appointment

A Postdoctoral Fellow may be dismissed prior to the expiration of their contract for one of the following reasons:

  • incompetence
  • neglect of duties
  • personal misconduct affecting fitness to continue as a Postdoctoral Fellow
  • failure to abide by applicable requirements of law or University policy, or the reasonable instructions or directions of appropriate University officials

Upon receipt of a written recommendation to dismiss a Postdoctoral Fellow during a term of appointment, the Office of Academic Affairs shall afford the affected Fellow with written notice of the reasons for the proposed dismissal and the right to request a hearing. If, within five (5) calendar days after receiving such notice the Fellow requests a hearing, a hearing shall be conducted before the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and/or the Vice Chancellor for Research or a faculty member or panel of faculty members selected by the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and/or the Vice Chancellor for Research. At the hearing, the burden of proof shall be on the faculty member or administrator recommending dismissal to establish by a preponderance of evidence that cause for dismissal exists. If the faculty member or administrator has established adequate cause for dismissal, the Postdoctoral Fellow may be immediately dismissed from the appointment. A Postdoctoral Fellow so dismissed may appeal the dismissal to the Chancellor as provided in Section 501(c)4 of The Code of The University of North Carolina.

If the faculty member or administrator recommending dismissal does not establish at the hearing adequate cause for dismissal, no further action shall be taken.

The Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and/or the Vice Chancellor for Research is authorized to develop and publish reasonable rules for the conduct of such hearings.


Leave: As temporary employees, Postdoctoral Fellows will not accrue vacation or sick leave. However, the University recognizes that Postdoctoral Fellows will likely work long hours in the course of their duties, and faculty supervisors may make appropriate arrangements for compensatory leave in accordance with the specific working conditions and FLSA Regulations (https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/whdfs17s.htm).

Other Benefits: The Chancellor is authorized to arrange for Postdoctoral Fellows such health care coverage and retirement benefits as may be appropriate, consistent with the requirements of law and University policy.


Revision History: 
  • Initially approved December 8, 2000
  • Updated October 29, 2004
  • Updated August 19, 2016
  • Updated July 19, 2021
  • Updated November 16, 2022

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs

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