I am expected to finish my Ph.D in mathematics (if relevant, more specifically - in commutative/homological algebra) by the end of this academic year. I am studying in a somewhat minor university, although my supervisor is a well know figure in his field.

Following my supervisor's advice, I submitted applications for postdoctoral positions in about 20 top level universities in the US. As most of these universities already finished hiring for this year, I suspect I made the mistake aiming too high, and would probably get negative answers from all the different employers.

Assuming this is the case, I am now wondering what should be the next step in my academic career. One option is to stay at my current university for another year (but with a much lower salary, as my scholarship will come to an end). I should mention that my supervisor highly discourages this option, as he thinks that I should get more involved in the research community of my field, and my current university is a poor place to do so.

Alternatively, I am wondering if there are any other opportunities for postdocs in Europe or the US for the 2013 academic year, in my relevant field, of which the deadline still did not pass.

Any advice or idea for my situation would be helpful.

Thank you

  • 5
    Post-doc opportunities appear year-round, especially if you look internationally. In my subfield (numerical analysis) there are new post-doc job ads every week. Your advisor should know where to look. Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 19:09
  • I guess part of the problem is that my advisor doesn't really know where to look... He is out of the job market for 20 years, and I am his first graduate student.
    – user562
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 19:18
  • 1
    You will find a lot of useful links here: mathoverflow.net/questions/952/… Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 7:58
  • I recommend chronicle.com
    – Paul
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 0:11

7 Answers 7


There are several major websites on which jobs in mathematics, including postdocs, tend to be posted. Most importantly (in the US) mathjobs.org, but also the AMS's service and others. (See this mathoverflow question for many more.) Postdoc positions can take a while to sort out, since many of them are filled (or even created) in response to what happened earlier in the hiring season, so there may still be opportunities, especially if you're willing to look outside the US.

  • By the way, right after writing this, I went to check my e-mail and received an announcement of a new postdoc position. So there are definitely new postdocs becoming available.
    – Henry
    Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 20:42

Unfortunately, I'm afraid your supervisor gave you very risky advice. For anyone other than a real star (at the level of the top students at the top schools), applying to just 20 top departments is likely to lead to disappointment. You may be at that level - of course I have no idea - but coming from a less famous university also puts you at a disadvantage, even with a well-known advisor.

As several people have pointed out here, there are still some jobs available for next year, but many of the most attractive possibilities will be gone. At this point, you should look for advertisements but also explore other possibilities. Write to departments to see whether they have any last-minute openings (e.g., a sabbatical replacement), write to faculty members to see if they have postdoc funding from recent grants, etc.

Ideally, a trusted mentor should inquire about these possibilities, not you, although of course this depends on whether you have someone who is willing to do this, such as your advisor. A mentor can explain that you only ended up in this situation because of following questionable advice, and your application was excellent otherwise, so a department that gets you now will be seizing a great opportunity rather than hiring someone nobody else wanted. (Of course, your advisor may feel uncomfortable loudly announcing that he gave you bad advice.) A mentor can also contact friends in other departments, collaborators, etc. in ways you probably can't. But it's much better for you to inquire than for nobody to.

As for staying at your current university, I'd recommend remaining a graduate student rather than getting your Ph.D. and becoming an intructor, unless there's a huge funding difference or you have already spent an unusually long time in grad school. Continuing with a one-year position at the university you attended for grad school is tantamount to announcing "I didn't get a job last year" on your CV, and that can hurt your job search compared with simply graduating a year later.

If you stay in grad school, perhaps your advisor could help arrange for you to spend a semester or even year visiting another university, which could help take care of the "getting involved in the research community" side of things. However, the funding situation for that can be complicated, so it may require luck or someone who can call in some favors.


In addition to AMS, you can also have a look at DMANET, they have many different positions in maths/TCS, but it's quite active, so it might worth browsing the announcements.

Also, if you see a job announcement that you really like, don't hesitate to contact informally the responsible, even if the deadline is passed (and even if the deadline is quite old). It's possible that the position was not filled-in, and that they still have the budget. It's also possible that they are preparing another, similar position. You can also contact directly some professors you might interested in working with, even if they haven't advertised anything, you never know :)

Good luck!


I can only answer your second question, being in somewhat same kind of situation. (job in algebra)Let me first start with a job link:


Some of the European jobs have later deadlines. You can apply there. Try euro-math-jobs, nordic-math-jobs, and don't forget to write to people asking about whether there are groups having funding for postdocs.And do look at the mathoverflow question they mentioned above (I did too, and it helped).

Also, check this: http://homotopical.wordpress.com/jobs/postdoc/ (You will find it very informative).

Best of luck!


Here's a list as a community wiki (feel free to edit), for primarily temporary Math. positions as researchers (a.k.a. "post-docs", "non-tenured", etc., etc. : the classification varies):

Mainly in North America

Mainly in Europe


All Around the World

Other Ressources


There is scads of postdoc money available both inside the U.S. and worldwide for people interested in doing research, really money exists.

There are not however faculty positions for all those postdocs, at least not in countries that pay anywhere near U.S. wages. I know French people working as professors in South America, Americans working in Asia and the Middle East, etc. It's certainly a grand adventure which you should consider, but it's effectively a one way trip because if you stay then you'd never earn enough to retire in the U.S.

American universities will look down upon your time abroad if you try coming back as an academic too. Even very low ranked universities will realize you've taught in much more traditional systems that probably don't coddle the students nearly so much, meaning they won't trust your teaching.

Europe does not follow the U.S.'s job calendar, meaning you may apply whenever you wish, but you must watch the job sites like math-jobs.com year round, which is annoying. I believe many asian countries have schedules, but not necessarily the same ones, watch the job sites.

There is an issue that the further you travel from the U.S. the more your school's standing hurts you. I'd expect you can find postdoc money, references, etc. from Europeans or Asians who know your advisor, but this support counts for very little when you apply for a permanent faculty position.

You should imho simply take an industry job if you wish to remain in the U.S. long term, but if you want an adventure there is one to be had. Adventure isn't for everyone but you only live once. ;)

p.s. Don't limit yourself too much when applying, retool into computational homological algebra if an opportunity presents itself (and you can program well).


I'd like to give you some advices:

1) Strong reccomandation: do not choose an university where to apply by focusing only on its excellence, but choose it only if there is a research group that studies your research stuff. Working for some years in a research group that does not match with your scientific objective could be a very dangerous error.

2) After identifying which universities have a research group focused on your fields, try to apply for the best, basing on Times Higher Education Ranking, or another indicator.

Good luck!

  • 2
    THES's rankings are complete garbage. I laughed out loud when I saw they ranked Manchester above École Polytechnique in frigging engineering, that's like ranking Ohio State above MIT in engineering. THES exists solely to bolster the U.K.'s foreign student intake. In particular, they place a massive wight on the number of foreign staff and students, i.e. they place a massive wight on speaking english. Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 18:18

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