Guidelines and Policy for Academic Units on Postdoctoral Education

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Guidelines and Policy for Academic Units on Postdoctoral Education

The general guidelines listed below are meant to encourage units to examine their policies and procedures to support postdoctoral education. Every unit hosting Postdocs should have explicitly stated policies and procedures for the provision of postdoctoral education as well as established means for informing Postdocs of policies, procedures, and privileges (e.g., orientation sessions, handbooks, etc.), as well as mechanisms for addressing complaints. Academic units should ensure that their policies, procedures and privileges are consistent with these guidelines and the Charter of Students’ Rights. For their part, Postdocs are responsible for informing themselves of policies, procedures, and privileges.
  1. Definition and Status

    i. Postdoctoral status will be recognized by the University in accordance with Quebec provincial regulations. Persons may only be registered with postdoctoral status for a period of up to five years from the date they were awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Time allocated to parental or health leave is added to this period of time. Leaves for other reasons, including vacation leave, do not extend the term. Postdocs must do research under the supervision of a McGill professor, including Adjunct Professors, who is a member of McGill's academic staff qualified in the discipline in which training is being provided and with the abilities to fulfil responsibilities as a supervisor of the research and as a mentor for career development. They are expected to be engaged primarily in research with minimal teaching or other responsibilities.

  2. Registration

    i. Postdocs must be registered annually with the University through Enrolment Services. Initial registration will require an original or notarized copy of the Ph.D. diploma. Registration will be limited to persons who fulfil the definition above and for whom there is an assurance of appropriate funding and where the unit can provide assurance of the necessary resources to permit postdoctoral education.

    ii. Upon registration, the Postdoc will be eligible for a University identity card issued by Enrolment Services.

  3. Appointment, Pay, Agreement of Conditions

    i. Appointments may not exceed your registration eligibility status.

    ii. In order to be registered as a Postdoc, you must be assured of financial support other than from personal means during your stay at McGill University, equivalent to the minimal stipend requirement set by the University in accordance with guidelines issued by federal and provincial research granting agencies. There are no provisions for paid parental leave unless this is stipulated in the regulations of a funding agency outside the University.

    iii. At the outset of a postdoctoral appointment, a written Letter of Agreement for Postdoctoral Education should be drawn up and signed by the Postdoc, the supervisor, and the department head or delegate (see template Letter of Agreement and supporting document—Commitments of Postdoctoral Scholars and Supervisors—available at This should stipulate, for example, the purpose of the postdoctoral appointment (research training and the advancement of knowledge), the duration of the fellowship/financial support, the modality of pay, the work space, travel funds, and expectations and compensation for teaching and student research supervision. Leaves from postdoctoral education must comply with the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Policies for Vacation, Parental/Familial, and Health Leave (see Vacation Policy for Graduate Students and Postdocs and University Regulations & Resources > Graduate > Regulations > Categories of Students > Leave of Absence Status). Any breach of these conditions may result in grievance procedures or the termination of the postdoctoral appointment.

    iv. Postdocs with full responsibility for teaching a course should be compensated over and above their fellowship at the standard rate paid to lecturers by their department. This applies to all postdocs, except those for whom teaching is part of the award (e.g., Mellon grantees).

    v. The amount of research, teaching, or other tasks that Postdocs engage in over and above postdoctoral activities should conform to the regulations for Postdocs specified by the Canadian research council of their discipline. This applies to all Postdocs, including those whose funding does not come from the Canadian research councils.

  4. Privileges

    i. Postdocs have the same pertinent rights as the ones granted to McGill students in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities (“Green Book”), available at

    ii. Postdocs have full graduate student borrowing privileges in McGill libraries through their identity card.

    iii. As a rule, Postdocs who are Canadian citizens or who have Permanent Resident status may take courses for credit. Admission to such courses should be sought by submitting application documents directly to the appropriate program by the Postdoc. They must be admitted by the department offering the courses as Special Students. These Postdocs may only be enrolled as part-time students in non-degree granting programs. They will be charged fees for these courses.

    iv. Postdocs may be listed in the McGill directory. The Computing Centre will grant Postdocs email privileges on the same basis as graduate students upon presentation of a valid identity card.

    v. The Department of Athletics will grant Postdocs access to sports facilities upon presentation of their identity card. A fee will be charged on an annual or term basis.

    vi. Postdocs are mandatory members of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) and an annual association fee is automatically charged. PGSS fees are mandatory. Postdocs are permitted membership in the Faculty Club; an annual fee will be charged for this membership.

    vii. Postdocs are encouraged to participate in Professional Development Workshops provided by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and Teaching and Learning services. These sessions are usually free of charge.

    viii. Postdocs have access to the services provided by the Ombudsperson.

    ix. Postdocs may enrol as part-time students in the second language written and spoken English/French courses offered by the School of Continuing Studies/French Language Centre. Postdocs will be charged tuition for these courses. International Postdocs may be required to obtain a CAQ and a Study Permit.

    x. Access to student services and athletic services are available to the Postdoc on an opt-in basis. Fees are applicable.

  5. Responsibilities

    i. Postdocs are subject to the responsibilities outlined in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities (“Green Book”), available at

    ii. Each academic unit hosting Postdocs should clearly identify Postdocs’ needs and the means by which they will be met by the unit.

    iii. Each academic unit should assess the availability of research supervision facilities, office space, and research funding before recruiting Postdocs.

    iv. Some examples of responsibilities of the department are:

    • to verify the Postdoc’s eligibility period for registration;
    • to provide Postdocs with departmental policy and procedures that pertain to them;
    • to oversee the registration and appointment of Postdocs;
    • to assign departmental personnel (e.g., Postdoc coordinator and Graduate Program Director) the responsibility for Postdocs;
    • to oversee and sign off on the Letter of Agreement for Postdoctoral Education;
    • to ensure that each Postdoc has a supervisor, lab and/or office space, access to research operating costs and necessary equipment;
    • to include Postdocs in departmental career and placement opportunities;
    • to refer Postdocs to the appropriate University policies and personnel for the resolution of conflict that may arise between a Postdoc and a supervisor.

    v. Some examples of responsibilities of the supervisor are:

    • to uphold and transmit to their Postdocs the highest professional standards of research and/or scholarship;
    • to provide research guidance;
    • to meet regularly with their Postdocs;
    • to provide feedback on research submitted by the Postdocs;
    • to clarify expectations regarding intellectual property rights in accordance with the University’s policy;
    • to provide mentorship for career development;
    • to prepare, sign, and adhere to a Letter of Agreement for Postdoctoral Education.

    vi. Some examples of responsibilities of Postdocs are:

    • to inform themselves of and adhere to the University’s policies and/or regulations for Postdocs for leaves, for research, and for student conduct as outlined in the Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies University Regulations and Resources;
    • to submit a complete file for registration to Enrolment Services;
    • to sign and adhere to their Letter of Agreement for Postdoctoral Education;
    • to communicate regularly with their supervisor;
    • to inform their supervisor of their absences.

    vii. Some examples of the responsibilities of the University are:

    • to register Postdocs;
    • to provide an appeal mechanism in cases of conflict;
    • to provide documented policies and procedures to Postdocs;
    • to provide Postdocs with the necessary information on McGill University student services.

    Approved by Senate, April 2000; revised May 2014

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