Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation

Postdocs face many challenges in their research and work without having to worry about administrative hurdles. Use these resources to navigate the employment and benefits process.


The Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation (REG 10.10.08) outlines the qualifications, procedures, titles, definitions, appointments, salary requirements, expectations, benefits, and other provisions that oversee postdoctoral scholars and their relationship to the university. Postdoctoral scholars are encouraged to read over this regulation. Following are some of the major points from the Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation. In addition, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) has been compiled regarding the Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation and the information it contains.

Definition of a Postdoctoral Scholar

Adapted from the Association of American Universities Committee on Postdoctoral Education Report and Recommendations:

  1. The appointee was recently awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D., DVM) in an appropriate field; and
  2. The appointment is temporary; and
  3. the appointment involves substantial research or scholarship; and
  4. the appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career; and
  5. the appointment is not part of a clinical training program; and
  6. the appointee works under the supervisor of a scholar or a department in a university or similar research institution (e.g., national laboratory, NIH, etc.); and
  7. the appointee is expected to submit for publication the results of his/her research or scholarship conducted during the period of appointment, in consultation with his/her mentor.

Length of Appointment

The maximum length of a postdoctoral appointment is five (5) years. All postdoctoral employees are subject to annual reviews and renewals.

Minimum Salary

Postdoctoral scholars must be, at a minimum, compensated at a rate that is the higher of the following: 1) at least 60% of the minimum starting academic year’s salary for an assistant professor in the appropriate discipline as published in the University’s approved faculty salary ranges established by Human Resources; or 2) at $47,000.

Employment Status

Postdoctoral scholars are classified as temporary appointees.. As temporary appointees, postdocs are not required to participate in any retirement system. Postdoctoral scholars do have the option of participating in a 403b annuity program.

The postdoctoral appointment and salary should reflect the FTE of the appointment, which could be full-time or part-time. The conditions of their apppointment should be clearly stated in their appointment letter.

Postdocs Who Are Not Paid by the University

“No-pay” appointments can be made in the Human Resources system for postdoctoral fellows who are not paid directly through the NC State University payroll system but get a fellowship directly from the sponsoring agency. The no-pay appointment will give postdocs access to the gym, the library, and other campus facilities.

Exit Survey

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is interested in obtaining feedback from postdoctoral scholars before they leave the university. OPA uses this information to improve services offered to postdocs as well as track the employment trends postdocs encounter once they leave their postdoctoral assignment. The exit survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. All responses to this survey will be kept confidential. Thank you for your participation and for helping OPA enhance its offering to current and future postdocs.

NC State OPA Exit Survey

Benefits for Postdoctoral Employees

Health Insurance

Postdoctoral scholars who are employed through North Carolina State University and are at least .75 FTE (their appointment is for at least 30 hours a week) are eligible to receive medical health benefits at no charge. In addition, postdoctoral employees may elect to have their dependents covered under their health benefit plan, but these premiums are not payroll deducted and payment for this insurance coverage needs to be paid directly to Hill, Chesson & Woody, the Plan Administrator.

More information about the health insurance plan can be found on the NC State Student Health Services website. PLEASE NOTE: It is important for postdocs to first use the Student Health Services for their medical needs. To learn more about Student Health Services and what it offers (routine doctor’s visits, pharmacy, ob-gyn services, physical therapy, etc.), call them at 919.515.7107 or visit Student Health Services website. In addition, spouses of postdocs can use the pharmacy health benefit at Student Health Services (if covered on the postdoc’s plan), and the charge for prescriptions there is often offered at a lower rate.

For postdoctoral fellows who are not paid through the University payroll system (but receive their funding from an agency or source outside of the university), they will need to purchase their own individual health insurance plan. BCBS offers an individual health plan that postdoctoral fellows may purchase.

An important thing to remember is that all J-1 Exchange Visitors and their accompanying family members are required to have health insurance which meets certain federal requirements: $50,000 minimum per accident or illness; $500 maximum deductible per illness; $10,000 provision for medical evacuation; and $7,500 maximum for repatriation. If you will not be paid by NC State and you do not have insurance, then you will need to purchase insurance in the US. The Office of International Services (OIS) has a list of insurance companies that sell policies meeting the minimum requirements of the J-1 program.

More information about health insurance can be found in Section 9.2 of the Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation.


Postdoctoral scholars who work more than 20 hours a week may elect to enroll in a 403(B) retirement plan offered through the University. Information about this plan and how to enroll in it can be found on the Human Resources website.


North Carolina State University recognizes that many of its employees have childcare needs. Information pertaining to childcare options can be found at the NCSU Childcare Resource Center.  In addition, North Carolina State University has a childcare center, operated by Bright Horizons, that is located on the Dorothea Dix campus at 691 Palmer Drive. To find out more about the NC State University Childcare Center, call 919.513.2835.

Annual Vacation Leave

Postdocs are entitled to earn annual leave and for those employed full-time (1.0 FTE) at 40 hours a week earn 8 hours of annual leave each month or 12 days of annual (vacation) leave each year. Leave is prorated for postdoctoral scholars who are less than 1.0 FTE.

The scheduling of a postdoctoral scholar’s annual leave shall be subject to the approval of his or her supervisor.

The maximum number of unused days of annual leave that a postdoctoral scholar may accrue and carry forward from one calendar year to the next shall be twenty-four (24) days.

More information about annual leave may be found in Section 9.3 of the Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation.

Please note that postdoctoral scholars need to use all of their annual leave before their appointment ends; they will not be paid out at the end of their contract for any unused annual leave.

Sick Leave

Full-time (1.0 FTE) postdoctoral scholars earn 8 hours of sick leave each month; for those working less than 40 hours, sick leave is earned on a prorated basis. For example, an employee working ¾ time would earn .75 of 8 hours of leave each month or 6 hours of sick leave. More information about sick leave can be found in Section 9.3 of the Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation.

Please note that postdoctoral scholars will not be paid out at the end of their contract for any unused sick leave.

Holiday Leave

Postdoctoral scholars earn holiday leave each year. The State of North Carolina authorizes 11 holidays in years where Christmas falls on a Fri, Sat, Sun, or Mon, and 12 holidays in years when Christmas falls on a Tues, Wed, or Thurs. The campuses of the University of North Carolina system observe the same total number of holidays as those provided to other State agencies. However, each campus sets its own specific holiday/closing schedule based on institutional needs. For a list of holiday closings for North Carolina State University, check the University Official Holiday/Closing website.

There are other types of leave for which postdoctoral scholars may be eligible, such as Family and Medical Leave. See Section 9.3.5 of the Postdoctoral Scholars Regulation or contact Human Resources at: 919.515.4317.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

The university offers a Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP), through Deer Oaks EAP Services, which is designed to provide no cost, confidential and professional assessment and referral services for employees and postdoctoral scholars who may experience personal or work-related concerns. Examples of problems addressed are emotional, family, marital, alcohol, drug and other personal issues. Deer Oaks EAP provides services and support to employees and their dependents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Postdocs can contact Deer Oaks by calling 1.877.EAP.SOLV (1.877.327.7658) or by visiting More information about FASAP can be found here.