The Postdoctoral Position

Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows are valued members of MIT’s community, playing critical roles as trainees and partners in our academic and research enterprise. Working under the supervision of MIT faculty members, postdoctoral scholars come to MIT to develop their scholarly competence. The postdoctoral period is an integral component of the training necessary for a future, independent research career.

MIT has an established program for ensuring that postdocs receive mentoring and guidance throughout the postdoctoral period, in addition to numerous opportunities for career development and more informal mentoring.

Postdocs join the MIT community soon after receiving the doctorate, and their length of stay varies depending on area of interest and individual circumstances. Since the postdoctoral position is not intended to be long-term, MIT limits the postdoctoral period to four years, with promotion to the rank of senior postdoctoral associate possible after three years. Extension for a fifth year or promotion to research scientist requires a dean’s or VPR approval.  

Postdoctoral associate and postdoctoral fellow appointments are described in detail in MIT Policies and Procedures. In addition, the Vice President for Research periodically communicates MIT’s responsibilities regarding postdocs. The Statement on the postdoctoral training period also provides guidance. See Defining Postdoctoral Fellows and Associates for additional information on the postdoctoral position.

Here are some statistics about MIT Postdocs, whose total population was 1502 as of October 31, 2018.

Pie chart illustrating the areas of work of all postdocs.

Gender ratio for postdocs

Postdoc residency status and citizenship


(*Statistics provided by Institutional Research and based on data recorded in the SAP HR database as of 10/31/18)