Defining Postdoc Fellows and Associates

Postdocs are appointed with the title postdoctoral fellow or postdoctoral associate depending on the type and source of funding. MIT Policies and Procedures provides detailed descriptions and requirements for postdoctoral associate and postdoctoral fellow appointments.

Postdoctoral Associate

The MIT title of postdoctoral associate applies to those who are paid a salary by MIT. Their salary is usually charged to a grant or contract secured by their faculty mentor, and the postdoc's research must be related to the aims of the grant or contract. All postdocs whose appointments are charged to MIT funds (e.g., internal orders, gifts) should also be appointed as postdoctoral associates.   

Postdoctoral associates are eligible for MIT employee benefits as described by MIT's Benefits Office. In addition to their salary, the funding sources are charged for a portion of the postdocā€™s benefits through the application of an employee benefit rate.

Postdoctoral Fellow

The MIT title of postdoctoral fellow applies to scholars who receive financial support in the form of a fellowship or stipend from an outside sponsor or agency. The stipend may be paid directly to the fellow or distributed through MIT on behalf of the sponsor. Typically, fellows are responsible for applying for a fellowship award. Fellowships allow postdocs to determine their research activities. The fellow appointment is not appropriate for postdoc appointments charged to MIT funds (e.g., internal orders, gifts).  

Because of their funding source and appointment type, postdoctoral fellows are not considered employees of MIT, which impacts eligibility for various benefits and programs.

Departments who are interested in establishing a postdoctoral fellowship program at MIT funded by either a sponsored award or gift should review the criteria established by the Vice President for Research and the Provost [Touchstone required].