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Appointment & Resignation

Provides guidance on the appointment and resignation policies for postdoctoral trainee appointments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can postdocs work remotely?

Generally, no, postdocs are expected to be based primarily in Philadelphia for the full duration of the fellowship period unless the research program requires a remote location. However, the final determination of a postdocs eligibility to work remotely is left to the discretion of their PI and/or Faculty mentor. Postdocs on a J-1 visa, or any other visa are not permitted to be fully remote. Postdocs on a J-1 visa can only participate in remote work two days in a five-day work week. The postdoc and mentor should follow the University Flexible, Hybrid & Remote Work policy as well as their school, department, or center’s policy regarding remote work.

Can postdocs work part-time?

No, postdoc appointments are full time (40 hours per week), based on the expectation that the postdoc will be fully involved in scholarly pursuits. In special cases, upon written request of the appointee and concurrence of the mentor; the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, may grant an exception when the postdoc is unable to make a full-time commitment for reasons of health, family responsibilities, or employment external to Penn. Such a request must take into account extramural funding agency requirements, if any. When a reduced-time appointment has been approved, the mentor and postdoc shall sign an appointment letter specifying the reduction in hours of work, reduction in stipend, and concomitant responsibilities. NOTE: Benefits are based on a postdoc percentage of full-time employment (FTE). A change in FTE may result in a change to benefits.

Do postdocs need to provide proof of their doctoral degree? 

Eligibility for appointment as a postdoc requires a candidate to hold, or to have completed the requirements for, an advanced degree, e.g., PhD, MD, or equivalent. Candidates from non-U.S. universities must hold advanced degrees equivalent to those awarded in U.S. institutions in order to qualify for appointment as postdoctoral fellows. It is the candidate’s responsibility to provide transcripts and/or a diploma certifying that the postdoc has received their degree, and although this may be delegated, it is the mentor’s responsibility to review this documentation and ensure that it is satisfactory and included in the candidate’s file. If conferral of a postdoc degree occurs after their start date, the postdoc must furnish a notarized statement or letter from their home institution’s registrar or University official that their degree will be conferred on a certain date and stating that they have completed all degree requirements by that date. Again, it is the mentor and or delegated authority responsibility to review the postdoc’s transcripts and/or diploma, or notarized letter to ensure that it is satisfactory. This documentation should be included in the candidate’s file and a copy added to their Workday@Penn file. In no event shall a postdoc be reappointed without the degree having been awarded. 

I have an international postdoc. How long can I appoint them in a postdoc position?

Per the policy, postdoc appointments are made for one year. Postdocs can be reappointed for up to five years total. Faculty mentors who expect to reappoint an international postdoc can offer a multi-year visa sponsorship duration to mitigate the burden of visa renewals if funding is secured for the same period of visa sponsorship, there is an intention to reappoint the postdoc, and the postdoc meets the expectations of the position as documented in an Individual Development Plan. Departments need to include the appropriate language in the appointment or reappointment letter to offer a multi-year visa sponsorship duration and final approval must be secured by ISSS.

Are postdocs eligible for moving expenses reimbursement?

The University does not reimburse postdocs for relocation expenses. However, an incoming postdoc may negotiate for reimbursement as part of their offer letter. Postdocs and host department administrators should refer to Penn Financial Policy 2324 “Reimbursement for Moving Expenses” for further information and guidance.

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