Getting Started at UVA: Overview

Welcome to the University of Virginia, and to our postdoctoral community!  As you conduct your training we hope that our office can be useful in helping you to achieve your goals in research, scholarship and career advancement, and that you will take advantage of the opportunity to engage with the world-class faculty and staff that you are now a part of.  

Definition of "Postdoc" at UVA

At the University of Virginia we define a postdoctoral traineeship as an appointment that is temporary and conferred upon an individual who has recently been awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate in the appropriate field and who will be involved in full-time research and scholarship. The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a range of careers, including full-time academic or research careers, and is supervised by a senior scholar.  The appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his/her research and scholarship during the period of the appointment. The postdoctoral appointment is renewed annually with a target length of appointment of three years.

At UVA a postdoc generally falls into one of two classifications, depending on the source of their funding.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Postdoctoral Fellow is the title given to postdocs who are funded through sources such as individual fellowships, training grants, external foundations, foreign governments, or a different primary employer (e.g. foreign hospital), and who choose to carry out their training and research at the University of Virginia.  In many such cases, due to the requirements of the funding source (e.g. NIH training grant) as well as University regulations, fellows cannot be considered UVA employees, but are fully affiliated with the university and the postdoctoral community.  

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Research Associate is the title given to postdocs who are affiliated with the university as employees.  In these cases the source of funds does not restrict direct payment/employment from the university.  Postdoctoral research associates are part of the University's Professional Research Staff (PRS).  Other categories of the Professional Research Staff include Research Scientists, Senior Scientists, and Principal Scientists.
While we strive to maintain consistency in benefits for both employee and non-employee postdocs, this distinction does create some differences between the two categories, which are outlined on the pages related to benefits and insurance.