If you worked as a postdoc, on a grant for example as many do. A situation where it's basically felt to be a glorified continuation of your PhD, with the same routine of checking in and giving progress updates to your PI (who has just replaced your or literally is your old supervisor), are you still able to consider that school your alma mater?

A post doc is usually a situation where you're not technically a student, though you retaining the same rights (auditing classes, expected 1 on 1 with professors, etc). Enough of to be a nourishing mother, or just a stretch?

  • 2
    In the US, "alma mater status" doesn't mean anything in particular. Why do you ask? Mar 14, 2023 at 1:22
  • @AzorAhai-him- bragging rights… Mar 14, 2023 at 1:47
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    More dignified to consider them your employer
    – user137975
    Mar 14, 2023 at 4:12

2 Answers 2


That would be a stretch. It is nice that you have such a nice experience with your first (in some countries, second) real job. In your future jobs you will continue to learn, and hopefully feel a sense of belonging to those employers as well. But calling them an alma mater would just be confusing.


There are, AFAIK, no regulations governing the use of the term "alma mater". The relevant definition on dictionary.com is:

a school, college, or university at which one has studied and, usually, from which one has graduated

and the relevant definition of "study" is

to apply oneself to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or practice

which is definitely something a postdoc does. Since "usually" (with repsect to having graduated from the institution) does not imply "necessarily", I think yes, you can call this institution your alma mater.

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    I agree that there are no legal definitions of alma mater, so legally you can do whatever you want. However, if the point of using a word is to accurately communicate, then a "usually" in the definition becomes much more binding than it would in a legal context. If you are technically right, but you are misunderstood, then your attempt at communication still failed. Mar 14, 2023 at 9:58
  • @MaartenBuis True, although I think OP's aim might have more to do with getting a warm glowy feeling than with communication. Mar 14, 2023 at 14:22

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