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Postdoctoral Scholars and Fellows Program Overview

Program Overview

Postdoctoral appointments are “at-will” and subject to continuation or discontinuation at the discretion of the Provost or designee.  Postdoctoral appointments, though at-will, may not exceed five (5) years total.  

All postdoctoral appointments are contingent upon: 
  • verification of the individual’s academic credentials; 
  • verification of the individual’s eligibility to work and be paid in the United States;  
  • a satisfactory criminal background check.  

If any of the above-listed contingencies is not met, the offer of employment shall be canceled. In addition, falsification of an employment application or other employment-related information shall be grounds to cancel any employment offer or rescind the appointment.  In cases where the falsification of the employment application or other employment-related information is discovered after the postdoc has begun work, the postdoc shall be separated from employment immediately.   

If the position is contingent upon the continued availability of non-state appropriated funds to support the position, the appointment letter must state that continuation of the postdoctoral appointment is contingent upon the continuing availability of such funds to support the position, must specify the source of such funds, and must state that the effect of such contingency may apply without additional notice.  
Postdoctoral appointments that are discontinued prior to the end of the stated term date will be given no less than 30 calendar days notice prior to discontinuation of appointment or the payment of severance for the 30 days. Benefits are not continued beyond the last working day if severance is paid in lieu of notice.   

Postdocs may end their appointment at any time for any reason but are expected to give thirty (30) calendar days’ notice.
UNCW establishes competitive salaries for postdocs consistent with rates published by the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award.

A series of required pre-employment paperwork must be completed prior to the start of the appointment .

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9
    • It is the responsibility of all new employees to verify work eligibility on or before the first day of employment by completing the Form I-9. This form is completed electronically by invite from our third-party provider and requires original official documents that establish identity and employment eligibility. Instructions and links will be sent to the email registered in the online application system. Form I-9 must be completed before work can begin at the University.

  • Criminal Background Check
    • It is the policy of UNCW that offers of employment ae extended to applicants contingent upon the successful passing of a criminal background check. It is the responsibility of all new hires to complete the process electronically by invite from our third-party provider. Instructions and links will be sent to the email registered in the online application system.

  • Education Credentials
    • It is the responsibility of the postdoc to provide original transcripts and documentation that certify that the advanced degree has been received, and it is the responsibility of the Graduate School to confirm that the documentation is satisfactory. If an advanced degree has not yet been awarded, a letter from the granting institution certifying that all requirements for the degree have been fulfilled can be substituted. A copy of these documents will be maintained with a copy of the letter of appointment in the official personnel file. An individual cannot be appointed as a postdoctoral fellow if this documentation has not been received prior to the beginning date of the appointment. In the event the postdoctoral fellow will be sponsored on a visa, the documentation provided must satisfy federal regulations.  
    • If at any time during the postdocs appointment the postdoc will be assigned to teaching a for-credit course, both the postdoc and the university will adhere to all applicable university policies and procedures related to certification of educational credentials for the purpose of teaching.  Certification of credentials for the purpose of appointment to a postdoc position does not replace the requirement to be certified to teach a course.

  • Sponsorship
    • If a postdoc needs a visa to enter the United States, the Office of International Programs will work with the postdoc and the department to identify and secure the appropriate visa classification. The nature of the postdoc as well as the prior U.S. immigration status, long-term professional goals, and institutional policy will be considered in determining the appropriate visa classification. The Office of International Programs will contact the postdoc with detailed instructions and will be available to answer questions throughout the visa process.
Enrollment in the benefit programs must be completed within 30 days of the start date of the appointment. After enrolling, changes in benefit selections may only be made during the annual open enrollment period in July or following a qualifying life event (QLE). Postdocs are eligible to enroll in a supplemental retirement plan at any time during the year. Health Insurance  

Health insurance is offered through the Postdoc Medical Plan [add a link] to all postdocs. To be covered under this benefit plan, postdocs must be on an active, paid postdoctoral assignment.  Dependents may be covered under this health plan as long as the postdoc participates; however, dependent premiums are not payroll deducted and must be paid by bank draft directly to the plan administrator.  Health insurance coverage is effective on the first day of the month following the hire date and ends the last day of the month of termination. For example, if the postdoc’s appointment ends on May 15, the postdoc will remain covered by the postdoc health insurance plan through May 31st.  If applicable, a waiting period may apply for pre-existing conditions for new postdocs and covered dependents.  Postdocs are expected to first use Student Health Services for their medical needs prior to seeking services from an off-campus provider; more information about the Postdoc Medical Plan is available online.    

All J-1 Exchange Visitors and their accompanying family members are required to have health insurance that meets certain federal requirements.  Information about the J-1 program’s minimum requirements for health insurance and how to apply for health insurance may be obtained from The Office of International Programs (OIP).  
Postdocs may participate in voluntary retirement programs through the UNC System Voluntary 403(b) Program and the NC Deferred Compensation 457(b) Plan provided under Sections 403(b) and 457(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, respectively. Retirement plans can be found on the Human Resources website.
Postdocs are subject to the same University official holidays and closings as all other employees at UNCW. The holiday calendar can be found on the Human Resources website. Postdocs are required to record vacation days during winter break as outlined on the holiday calendar.  Postdocs should work with their mentor if research requires work over mandatory holidays.

UNCW performance expectations for postdocs are as follows:   

  • conscientious fulfillment of agreed-upon duties; 

  • adherence to ethical standards of research and scholarship; 

  • adherence to UNCW Policy 03.370 and all other applicable University policies, rules and regulations on research and research-sponsored activities

  • compliance with good laboratory practice and recognized University standards which includes maintenance of laboratory notebooks and/or other comparable records of research activity; 

  • observation of established federal, state and municipal regulations and guidelines for research involving hazardous materials, human subjects or animals;  

  • take a UNCW approved course on Responsible Conduct of Research and all required Trainings  

  • open and timely discussion with mentor regarding the postdoc’s individual development plan (IDP), research/scholarly progress, teaching and mentoring expectations, distribution of required supplies, or any disclosure of finding or techniques privately or in publications;  

  • timely publication or other dissemination of the results of his or her research or scholarship in consultation with his or her mentor;  

  • compliance with the UNCW Respect Compact; 

  • compliance with all applicable University policies and procedures regarding employment; and  prior to resignation, it is requested that the postdoc provide at least thirty (30) calendar days written notice.  

  • Postdocs are required to articulate an individual development plan (IDP) in concert with their faculty mentor. The Graduate School has an example of an individual development plan, which has been adapted from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)’s Science Policy Committee. The IDP can be considered one component of a broader mentoring program and be referred to in grant applications, such as those for NSF which require a mentoring plan for postdocs as outlined in Section II.C.2.d.i of the National Science Foundation. The Graduate School and Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance (SPARC) are available to help postdoc with the creation of their IDPs as well as principal investigators (PIs) submitting proposals to federal agencies.   

  • All postdoctoral appointments are subject to annual performance reviews. Reviews will be carried out by the mentor and will be based on progress towards goals outlined in the Individual Development plan.
Postdoctoral positions are expected to provide professional development and skills training to prepare postdocs for careers of their choosing.  In addition to career mentoring from their advisors, postdocs are encouraged to take advantage of campus services such as  

  • Career Counseling 
  • Support applying for funding  
  • Networking  
  • Professional Development/training (Center for Teaching Excellence, the Center for Faculty Leadership, Office of eLearning)  
  •  Support for international scholars (International Faculty and Staff Association)  
  • Professional development support from Randall Library  

Postdocs should also consult with their mentor, department chair, and college dean regarding any funding for professional development that may be offered.

Please Direct All Questions To

Dr. Scott Nooner- Professor, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences