Postdoctoral Research Fellows

I. Scope

This policy applies to all employees of George Mason University.

II. Policy Statement

Postdoctoral Research Fellows (“Postdocs”) join the George Mason University (the “University”) academic community to further develop their proficiency in research and scholarship, working under the supervision and mentorship of University faculty members.  The Postdoc position is not intended for long-term or career appointments.

A. Duties and Responsibilities

Postdocs are expected to fulfill the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Continue training in their specialty area under the supervision of a more senior faculty member (“Faculty Mentor”)
  • Conduct research or scholarship, and in some cases limited teaching responsibilities,
  • Submit the results of their research for publication,
  • Exercise limited supervision over personnel,
  • Write and submit grant proposals in some cases,
  • Serve as Co-Principal Investigator or Principal Investigator on grant proposals in some cases, and
  • Complete other duties as assigned.

B. Recruitment Process

Consistent with Mason values, Faculty Mentors are strongly encouraged to advertise to recruit Postdoc candidates who represent groups traditionally underrepresented in their domains.

Postdocs may be hired with or without a competitive search.  The competitive search process is available on the Human Resources, Talent Acquisition website.

While searches are not required to hire a Postdoc, academic units must submit the following information in the Faculty Hiring Proposal System:

  • A position description describing the duties and responsibilities of the position, which must be consistent with this policy;
  • The name of the department or center and the Faculty Mentor who will be directing the individual;
  • Confirmation that sufficient funding is available to fund the position through externally sponsored funds or other sources;
  • The curriculum vitae of the proposed candidate; and
  • A description of how the candidate was identified, whether by competitive search or not, and why the particular recruitment mechanism was selected.

C. Appointment Offer

To make an offer of employment, the Dean or designee must utilize the Faculty Hiring Workflow system on the Office of the Provost website.  No offer shall be effective until signed by the Postdoc and an authorized university representative.

In the unusual case where an offer for employment is extended to a Postdoc whose degree has not yet been awarded, the effective date of such appointment cannot be prior to the degree award date.  The offer for employment is contingent upon the candidate’s presentation of satisfactory documentation of credentials and degrees awarded prior to the effective date of the appointment.

All Postdoc offers shall be contingent on the employee providing:

  • Documentation of the receipt of doctoral degree or confirmation from the awarding institution that all degree requirements including dissertation defense have been completed if degree not yet conferred

D. Conditions of Appointment

Postdocs receive the benefits of employment which are ordinarily provided to 12-month term faculty members, including annual leave and sick leave accrued at the same rate as is accrued by 12-month term faculty members.  However, Postdocs are not faculty members and are not governed by the Faculty Handbook.

Postdocs are not permitted to engage in outside consulting.

Postdocs are assigned to work in local academic units, subject to the approval of the dean or director.

Appointments are generally made in one-year renewable terms, up to a maximum of five years. Exceptions to one-year terms requires the approval of the local academic unit’s dean or director and the Vice President for Research. Extension of appointment beyond a combined total of five years is rare and only possible in extraordinary circumstances, and requires approval of the local academic unit’s dean or director and the Vice President for Research.

Postdocs are subject to all University policies applicable to all employees, including but not limited to Policy 4001, Conflicts of Interest.

E. Sponsorship of Non-Immigrant Postdocs

Postdocs who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or who are not authorized to accept full-time employment incident to status, must have University sponsorship of their non-immigrant visa.  The Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) provides assistance to the sponsoring academic unit in meeting the immigration requirements of the Postdoc’s appointment.

To request visa assistance, the sponsoring academic unit must submit a written request with appropriate supporting documentation to OIPS.  Requests should be made as early as possible in the recruitment/appointment process, but no fewer than ninety (90) days prior to the expected arrival of the Postdoc.  OIPS will determine the appropriate non-immigrant status of the Postdoc following review of the Postdoc’s visa history and the program information provided by the sponsoring academic unit and, on behalf of the University, will issue the necessary sponsorship documents and assist in securing the needed status.  An offer of employment as a Postdoc, and/or assistance in securing employment authorization, should not be construed as a guarantee that such authorization will be approved by US immigration authorities.  Employment may not begin until the Postdoc has the authorization to work at George Mason University.

Postdocs who are not US citizens or permanent residents are subject to all immigration laws and regulations of the United States.

The responsibility for maintaining legal status in the United States rests solely with the non-immigrant Postdoc.  All Postdocs must undertake the usual University onboarding process and demonstrate their authorization to work in the U.S.  The employment of any non-immigrant Postdoc whose employment authorization is no longer valid for whatever reason will be terminated in accordance with federal law and University employment policy.

George Mason University does not sponsor Postdocs for U.S. permanent residency.

F. Compensation

Postdoc Salaries shall be no lower than the exempt standard established by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Postdocs shall not receive leave payout upon termination without cause or for cause.

G. New Assignment and Resignation

It is expected that Postdocs will ordinarily seek employment outside the University on completion of their Postdoc appointments.

A Postdoc may be hired for a fixed-term faculty appointment following her or his Postdoc appointment, only if hired through the standard competitive recruitment and hiring process, meets the requirements of the position, and is selected as the best qualified.

It is expected that a Postdoc shall provide at least one month’s notice of resignation if resigning prior to the end of the appointment period.

Following expiration or termination of his or her appointment, a Postdoc must leave all original notebooks, data, reagents, and any other data and/or study components or University property with the Faculty Mentor in a state that allows uninterrupted continuation of the research and scholarship and permit compliance with University policies.  The Postdoc may make copies of his/her research and scholarship data.

H. Termination

A Postdoc may be terminated at any time without cause, for reasons including but not limited to reduced availability of funds or changes in the nature and scope of work, upon ninety (90) days written notice.  Such termination must be approved by the local academic unit’s dean or director.

A Postdoc may be terminated at any time for cause.  Cause for termination may include, but is not limited to, violation of conditions of appointment, violation of University policy, destruction of University property, destruction of experiments, stealing, sexual harassment, and inappropriate behavior.  Termination shall be immediate upon receiving written notice of termination for cause.  The academic unit shall consult with and notify the director of Employee Relations prior to taking any action to terminate for cause.

Suspected misconduct in research and scholarship must be reported to the university’s Integrity Officer under University Policy 4007, Misconduct in Research and Scholarship.

III.       Dates

A. Effective Date:

This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Provost and Executive Vice President.

B. Date of Most Recent Review:


IV. Timetable for Review

This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed every three years or more frequently as needed.

V. Signatures


_____/S___________                                 ____1/11/2018______

Senior Vice President for                                         Date

Administration and Finance

_____/S___________                                 ____1/16/2018______

Provost and Executive Vice President                   Date