Definitions of a Postdoctoral Appointment

Definitions of a Postdoctoral Appointment

Position requirements set forth by the University of Louisville Department of Human Resources.

The University of Louisville adheres to the basic recommendations of these national committees in defining postdoctoral appointments: The AAU Committee on Postdoctoral Education,1998;  FASEB’s Science Policy Committee, 2001; NSF;  AAMC; and the National Postdoctoral Association. Those recommendations include:

  • The appointee was recently awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) in an appropriate field;
  • the appointment is temporary;
  • the appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship;
  • the appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic career;
  • the appointment is not part of a clinical training program, unless research training under the supervision of a senior mentor is a primary purpose of the appointment;
  • the appointee works under the supervision of a senior scholar or a department in a university or similar institution;
  • the appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.



The University’s Human Resources Department specifically recognizes the following levels of Postdoctoral Appointment:

  • An individual who will be substantially involved in full-time research or scholarship, not enrolled in a formal academic program, but working under the mentorship of a senior scholar in preparation for an academic or research career.  Individuals engaged full-time in clinical or laboratory-based research shall be considered Postdoctoral Associates, if the position is a term appointment, scholarly, under the mentorship of a senior scholar and aimed at an academic or research career in academe, industry, government or the non-profit sector.  Postdoctoral Associates will have 0 to 3 years of experience.
  • Postdoctoral Scholars: Postdoctoral Scholars shall have the same criteria listed above for appointment as Postdoctoral Associates, but in addition shall have 4 to 7 years of experience.

    Research Associates holding doctoral degrees may, in some cases, be considered as postdoctoral trainees.  The University’s Human Resources Department specifically recognizes the following levels of doctoral Research Associate appointment

  • Research Associate:Ph.D. or terminal degree with three years of applied experience in related field required. Experience with experimental research and coursework in Research Methodology is required.
  • Research Associate SeniorPh.D. with five years of applied research experience in a related field.   Experience with experimental research and coursework in Research Methodology is required.