Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment & Stipend Policies

Definition of a Postdoctoral Fellow

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center uses the definition of a postdoctoral fellow appointment contained in the March 31, 1998, Association of American Universities Committee on Postdoctoral Education, Report and Recommendations. A postdoctoral fellow appointment is defined to include all the following conditions:

  • 1the appointee was recently awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D., D.V.M.) in an appropriate field;
  • the appointment is temporary;
  • the appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship;
  • the appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career;
  • the appointment is not part of a clinical training program;
  • the appointee works under the supervision of a senior scholar or a department in a university or similar research institution (e.g., national laboratory, NIH, etc.); and
  • the appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.

These programs are designed to provide intensive laboratory based research experiences that produce independent investigators. Individuals accepted holding the M.D. degree or equivalent are not permitted to engage in patient care activity.

Postdoctoral Fellow Stipend Policy

The NIH released a notice on January 20, 2016 of an increase in the Kirschstein-NRSA stipend levels for those trainees and fellows funded through institutional research training grants and individual fellowships.  This announcement affects the MD Anderson policy, which states that the minimum stipend for a postdoctoral fellow reflects the NIH Kirschstein-NRSA level for PGY0 experience.  View the full Kirschstein-NRSA stipend increase notice.

Kirschstein-NRSA Postdoctoral Stipend Levels

(effective April 1, 2016)

Postdoctoral Years of ExperienceStipend Effective April 1, 2016
0$43,692
1$45,444
2$47,268
3$49,152
4$51,120
5$53,160
6$55,296
7 or more$57,504

*The new stipend rates should be used for new appointments and reappointments made on or after April 1, 2016; all postdoctoral stipends must meet the minimum level by September 1, 2016.  Stipend adjustments will not be processed retroactively nor automatically by the Department of Academic and VISA Administration - Trainee (AVA-Trainee).  All stipend adjustments must be submitted in ePAF at least one week prior to the Payroll processing deadline to ensure timely processing.

Some postdoctoral appointments may be supported in part or in full by agencies or governments or are categorized as without compensation from MD Anderson for legitimate reasons (e.g., individuals supported by external fellowships awarded to them). Documentation of such formal support must be provided to the Department of Academic and VISA Administration - Trainee (AVA-Trainee) with the Recommendation for Educational Appointment. Where those stipends are set at less than the MD Anderson minimum, they must be supplemented by the MD Anderson department of appointment to at least the minimum PGY-0 amount in U.S. currency. One exception would be if there were explicit policies of these agencies or governments restricting stipend levels to below the MD Anderson minimum. Exceptions would be granted only after review and approval by the senior vice president for academic affairs or designee. Under no circumstances should a postdoctoral fellow’s or other individual’s personal funds be used to supplement an internally or externally supported stipend to the MD Anderson minimum level.

Faculty or postdoctoral fellows who have questions about the application of this policy should contact the Department of Academic and VISA Administration - Trainee (AVA-Trainee).

Term Limitation Policy

Initial postdoctoral research fellow appointments at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are renewed annually at the discretion of the faculty mentor for up to three years. Thereafter, the appointment may be renewed annually for another two years on the basis of career advancement and achievements by the postdoctoral appointee. The appointment term clock continues regardless of mentor changes within the MD Anderson Cancer Center. The appointment policy limits an individual to no more than five years in the postdoctoral title at MD Anderson, or a total of six years in postdoctoral appointments at any combination of institutions. After this time, the postdoctoral fellow must be appointed to an MD Anderson faculty or classified position or s/he must leave the institution. Regardless of the estimated length of the program, individual appointments are for periods of only one year, and advancement criteria must be met to receive an offer for an extension. The senior vice president for academic affairs or designee will grant exceptions to this policy only after receiving evidence of departmental review and support. Any postdoctoral fellow could request a one-year extension to the five- and six-year terms for child-rearing or family medical responsibilities by submitting a justification in writing.


1MD Anderson generally defines "recently" as within three years for the purposes of this policy but recognizes some international graduates may have received their terminal degree more than three years previously, or some individuals may be changing career directions.