The institute where I'm doing my PhD has a formal policy not to hire local PhD graduates as postdocs. Is this normal?

I live in Europe.

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    @CapeCode: Both "automatically" and "absurd" may be a bit strong - I have seen numerous instances of people receiving their doctoral degree and directly staying at the same department as a postdoc for a while. At least in my field (a kind of applied CS), many people switch to the industry after getting their doctoral degree. The few that intend to stay in academia and at a university are often gladly invited to stay at their previous department, and this is usually built up already during their doctoral candidacy; plans are made for them as heads of sub-teams or as managers of upcoming grants. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 11:49
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    So your question is "Is it frequent that institutions have a formal policy not to hire local PhD graduates as postdocs" which is rather different that the current form of the question.
    – Cape Code
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 11:59
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    Europe is a big place. Here in Finland, at least in my university, you cannot stay after getting your PhD. Where I got mine, in Ireland, I was actually offered one postdoc year after finishing. So it really depends.
    – Miguel
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:46
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    In smaller countries (like Finland), people often stay at their home universities after getting their PhDs, because there are no domestic alternatives in the same field of research. For many, moving abroad for a temporary job is not a real option, unless the job pays really well. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 22:45
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    In France you are actually prohibited from doing post doctoral work not only at the University you got your Ph.D. at, but even from doing such work at the institution of your mandatory out-of-university committee member. Which can make for an interesting situation if you're a top-tier doctoral candidate, as you will likely be at a top-tier place with a top-tier outside member at another top-tier place. So you need a third top-tier place to go to... Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 1:48

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, there are no official rules prohibiting institutes, universities or even labs to hire former PhD students as post-doc. Sometimes, a supervisor might hire you for a short period of time as Research Associate to wrap up papers and finish work at the lab, but this typically does not exceed 6 months to a year and should be considered to be part of the PhD work.

That said, although there are always exceptions, in general it is a pretty bad idea to do a post-doc at the same lab or department as your PhD. Some people even consider it to show a lack of ambition, competence and motivation; and I've been told it is frowned upon by hiring committees.

Successfully completing a PhD is the endpoint of an apprenticeship relation with the PI and lab. A post-doc is an opportunity to break that relation and take the experience and knowledge from your PhD to perform more independent research, build a new network, diverge into other topics, and experience a different lab culture.

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    Add to this that it's often difficult to take that "student" label off your forehead when your PhD supervisor is looking at you.
    – Miguel
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 19:50

It depends very much on the field and on the circumstances. A student in an experimental field who has done enough work to finish a thesis might well be invited to stay on for a year or two to do more work on the same broad experiment. A student who has finished a thesis late in the job-hunting season might be offered a one-year position as a post-doc or an instructor to enhance her CV before moving on to a longer term position. There simply are no general rules.

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