I am considering applying for postdoctoral positions in the US. However, I would like to find more information about how it is like to be a postdoctoral scholar.

Question 1: Is a postdoctoral position a full-year position (12 months) or an academic-year position (9 months)?

Question 2: How should I interpret postdoctoral salaries? For example, an MIT postdoctoral information page (see link) lists the minimum postdoctoral salary for a person with 0 years of experience at $42,000. Is this salary for 12 months, or for 9 months?

  • Each specific job posting should make this clear. My guess (based on a very few examples) is that 12 months is more common. In some cases you may see the summer salary quoted separately. – Nate Eldredge May 24 '14 at 14:52
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    I added the "US" tag, because I have the impression that this 'no work during summer' is mostly an American thing. I hope I did nothing wrong, feel free to revert it in case. – Federico Poloni May 24 '14 at 15:39
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    @FedericoPoloni Thanks. I have also edited my question to make it explicit that this question applies to postdoctoral positions in the US. – I Like to Code May 24 '14 at 19:13

In general, postdoctoral positions—unlike faculty positions (in the US)—are considered to be 12-month positions, with the salaries determined accordingly. You are not normally expected to provide your own funding for the summer months, nor are you expected to find outside employment.

If this is not the case, then it should be explicitly mentioned in the advertisement for the position. However, this is so rarely encountered that it would be very much outside the norm for postdocs.

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    If this answer is specific to a given geographical area it would be good to make it explicit. – E.P. May 24 '14 at 18:41
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    Actually, it's not really location-dependent. As far as I can tell, postdocs are employed on a 12-month basis everywhere. – aeismail May 24 '14 at 20:36
  • The claim that postdocs being on a 12-month basis is "unlike faculty positions" is location-dependent. – David Richerby May 25 '14 at 10:27

Post-docs come under staff category not faculty, so it's always 12 months. More than 50% places expect you even too work in weekends.

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    This isn't always true. When I was a postdoc, I was considered faculty, with the courtesy title of "Visiting Assistant Professor". I had a 9 month appointment with 2 months of summer salary from a separate source (so effectively like 12 months but slightly different). And "50% of places expect you to work weekends": This sounds like a made-up statistic. Citation needed. – Nate Eldredge May 25 '14 at 0:08
  • Postdocs at my institution are classified as "faculty" as well. – Mad Jack May 25 '14 at 0:35
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    Also in my department, postdocs are faculty. – Andreas Blass May 25 '14 at 2:21
  • @NateEldredge Were you expected to teach classes? – Superbest May 25 '14 at 9:01
  • @superbest: Yes. This is normal for postdocs in my field/country (mathematics/US). – Nate Eldredge May 25 '14 at 14:16

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