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Postdoctoral Appointment Process

Postdoctoral Appointments and Reappointments

This page is designed to provide information and resources available for faculty and staff administrators who work with Vanderbilt postdoctoral scholars, fellows, and trainees (VU and VUMC).

Postdoctoral scholars, fellows, and trainees (both VU and VUMC) are processed and appointed through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), upon the approval of an individual school or college. The recruitment and selection of postdoctoral appointees occur at the individual school or college level in accordance with the procedures and policies in the Appointment and Reappointment Guide for Faculty and Staff Administrators.  All appointments and reappointments are paperless and managed via a secure, web-based system.

School Point of Contact (SPOC)

All schools and colleges have designated a school point of contact (SPOC) who is responsible for working with their faculty and staff on the appointment/reappointment process. This individual has been trained by OPA and should be your first point of contact. Once a school/college recruits and selects a postdoctoral appointee, it is the responsibility of the SPOC to work with you to complete the required documents and processes before forwarding the appointment request to the OPA. A listing of SPOCs can be found here.

Training and Technical Assistance

Guides for staff administrators and SPOCs can be found here.

Staff administrators can also schedule an appointment for training and technical assistance on the postdoc appointment/reappointment process, postdoc policies and other related topics. Due to COVID-19 all trainings are taking place virtually. Please email to schedule time.

Stipends and Salaries

In December 2016, a minimum salary and stipend level for all full-time postdocs was established by Vanderbilt and based on the NIH NRSA stipend recommendations. Annually, when the NIH NRSA stipend recommendations are updated, Vanderbilt’s minimum salary and stipend level for all full-time postdocs are similarly updated. Minimum stipend and salary levels and more information can be found online here.

Key Points when Managing a Postdoc

  • All postdocs must be appointed to a VU or VUMC academic home department.
  • Postdoctoral appointments are one-year terms and may not exceed the maximum five-year term. This includes total training time at other institutions.
  • Allow ample time to process initial/first appointments. There are several factors that impact the amount of time it can take to process an initial appointment such as if the appointee’s PhD degree has already been conferred and if the appointee requires immigration documents. All appointees require a background check. The OPA notifies departments when a background check is completed.
  • A postdoctoral appointment is a full-time position. Activities are determined by the department/program. Requests to reduce from 100% FTE must be approved by the faculty advisor, dean of the school/college, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
  • An individual development plan (IDP) is required to be completed by the postdoc and PI/mentor within the first three months after the postdoc’s start date and annually thereafter. All IDPs are completed online.
  • Retroactive appointments will not be accepted.
  • Clinical residencies/fellowships are considered house staff positions and are not appointed through the OPA.
  • Concerns & Complaints
  • Terminations

Orientation and Onboarding for New Postdocs

Orientation for VU Postdocs

  • OPA holds VU postdoc orientation on the second Wednesday of each month at 9:00 a.m. All Vanderbilt University Postdocs (9145, 9146, 9136) should attend the OPA orientation. This is a one hour orientation to give new postdocs information on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, resources on campus and benefits information.
  • Due to COVID-19 all OPA orientations are taking place virtually.
  • Postdocs classified as 9145 (VU-employed) are also expected to attend the HR Benefits Orientation session on the first Monday following their hire date.
  • Click here for more information and to register your postdoc for OPA Orientation and HR Benefits Orientation (if applicable).

Orientation for VUMC Postdocs

  • For VUMC postdoc orientation, please contact Aaron Howard in the School of Medicine.


  • Postdocs must enroll for health insurance within 30 days of your hire date (both Postdoctoral Scholars, Research and Postdoctoral Scholars, Trainees). For enrollment and plan information, visit the postdoc HR insurance page.
  • More information for new postdoc hires can be found online here.