Appointment Length and Renewal

Postdoc Appointment Length

Postdoctoral appointments are temporary with fixed ending dates. The total duration of an individual’s postdoctoral service should not exceed a total of five (5) years, including time spent at other institutions. For temporary visa holders, eligibility for up to five years of a J-1 visa program does not guarantee a 5-year postdoctoral appointment at Washington University.

Postdoc Appointment Renewal

Washington University does not guarantee appointment renewal at the end of an appointment term. Continuation of a postdoctoral appointment for a subsequent period will be contingent upon ongoing satisfactory progress, successful annual reviews, and institutional criteria. The postdoctoral appointee and the faculty mentor should discuss appointment renewal several months before the appointment end date.

Completion of the Postdoctoral Stage

Finishing Postdoc Training

Once a WashU postdoctoral appointee reaches the 5-year term limit of their training, they must should transition to other positions more appropriate for their level of expertise and move forward with their careers, whether at Washington University (promotion) or at a different institution, company, or industry.

Human Resources has information summarizing the benefits status when leaving the University.

Promoting Out of a Postdoc Role

When a current WashU postdoctoral appointee applies to and is offered a new WashU position, their compensation for this promotion should reflect a competitive market rate of pay similar to what would be provided to an external hire. The promotion compensation is not subject to University compensation policy internal transfer minimums or maximums.

Please consult the Guidelines on Benefit Changes Applicable to Transfers Between Postdoc and Faculty/Staff (PDF).

Early Termination

Postdoctoral appointments are contingent on program need, satisfactory performance, and funding.

Lack of funding

Postdoctoral appointees in their first year of appointment at a lab or research group at Washington University may not be terminated for financial reasons. If unforeseen circumstances lead to the loss of the original funding source, the faculty mentor and department will need to find alternative funding to support the postdoctoral appointee.

Postdoctoral appointees beyond their first year of appointment at a lab or research group at Washington University may be terminated on the basis of exigency if the source of funding is lost. If an early termination action is needed due to lack of funding, early termination notices must be given in written form 60 days* before the early termination date.

* This supersedes the previous 30-day notice stipulated in the postdoctoral policies.

Lack of progress

Postdoctoral appointees’ lack of progress must be addressed first through verbal discussions with the postdoctoral appointee. Written documentation of these discussions is needed specifying the steps to be taken in order to remedy any deficiencies. The documentation should also show evidence that the possibility of early termination has been discussed should those deficiencies remain by a specific date. If an early termination action is needed, early termination notices must be given in written form 60 days before the early termination date.

Please note that this process takes place several weeks/months before taking an early termination action:

  • Verbal counseling
  • Progressive written counseling and documentation of discussions
  • Written 60-day notice

Please read section XII of the Implementation Guidelines of the Postdoctoral Education Policy for more information about the process.

Violation of standards of conduct

Postdoctoral appointees may be dismissed without prior notice for
incidents of violation of standards of conduct.

Please refer to the Employee Handbooks for more information.

Postdoc Exit Survey

Postdoctoral appointees must complete the Exit Survey* prior to the end of their appointment.

* Note: The Exit Survey is currently being revised to comply with national standards. Please come back soon.