Guidelines and Policy for Academic Units on Postdoctoral Education

Guidelines and Policy for Academic Units on Postdoctoral Education

Every unit hosting postdocs should apply institutional policies and procedures for the provision of postdoctoral education and have established means for informing postdocs of policies, procedures, and privileges (available at, as well as mechanisms for addressing complaints. For their part, postdocs are responsible for informing themselves of such policies, procedures, and privileges.

  1. Definition and Status

    i. Postdoctoral status will be recognized by the University in accordance with Quebec provincial regulations as may be modified from time to time. The eligibility period for postdoctoral status is up to five years from the date when the Ph.D. or equivalent degree was awarded. A leave of absence for parental or health reasons may extend the eligibility period. Leaves for other reasons, including vacation, do not impact the eligibility period.

    ii. Some McGill postdocs have dual status as both students and employees (unionized or non-unionized). Consult the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for definitions of Postdoctoral Fellows, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Postdoctoral Researchers.

    iii. Postdocs must conduct research under the supervision of a McGill professor (including Adjunct Professors), qualified in the discipline in which training is being provided and with the ability to fulfil supervisory responsibilities and act as a mentor for career development. Postdocs are expected to engage primarily in research with minimal teaching or other responsibilities.

  2. Registration

    i. Postdocs must register annually with the University through Enrolment Services. Registration will be limited to postdocs who fulfil the definition above, and who meet the eligibility criteria as stipulated on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

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

    iii. Leaves of absence 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).

  3. Appointment, Funding, Letter of Agreement

    i. Postdoctoral appointments may not exceed the registration eligibility period as defined above.

    ii. In order to be registered, the postdoc must be assured of financial support other than from personal means during their stay at McGill University. This amount must be equivalent to the minimal stipend requirement set by the University in accordance with guidelines issued by federal and provincial research granting agencies or the collective agreement, as applicable. Funding during parental leave is subject to the conditions of the funding agency or the collective agreement, as applicable.

    iii. Postdocs require a Letter of Agreement for Postdoctoral Education signed by the postdoc, the supervisor, and the department/unit head or delegate.

    iv. Postdocs with full responsibility for teaching a course should be compensated over and above their postdoctoral funding as course lecturers. This applies to all postdocs, except those for whom teaching is part of the award.

    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 or the collective agreement. 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 under, and those granted by the policies listed at

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

    iii. As a general rule, postdocs may take courses for credit as Special Students following the admissions procedures outlined at Tuition and other charges will apply.

    iv. Postdocs may be listed in the McGill directory.

    v. Access to sports facilities may be purchased on a monthly basis through McGill Athletics and Recreation.

    vi. Postdoctoral Fellows and Scholars are mandatory members of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) and an annual association fee is automatically charged.

    vii. Postdocs are permitted membership in the Faculty Club; an annual fee will be charged for this membership.

    viii. 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.

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

    x. 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.

    xi. Access to student services is granted to non-unionized postdocs, who are charged the Student Services fee in the Fall and Winter terms, through their student fee accounts.

  5. Responsibilities

    i. Postdocs are subject to the responsibilities outlined at and must abide by the policies listed 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 the responsibilities of the academic unit are:

    • to verify the postdoc’s eligibility period for registration;
    • to provide postdocs with departmental policy and procedures that pertain to them;
    • to facilitate the registration and appointment of postdocs;
    • to assign departmental personnel the responsibility for postdoctoral affairs in the unit;
    • 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; and
    • 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 the 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; and
    • to prepare, sign, and adhere to a Letter of Agreement for Postdoctoral Education.

    vi. Some examples of the responsibilities of postdocs are:

    • to inform themselves of and adhere to the University’s policies and/or regulations for postdocs as outlined at and, 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; and
    • 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 (Postdoctoral Fellows and Scholars) and HR policies and guidelines (Postdoctoral Researchers).

    Approved by Senate, April 2000; revised May 2014; February 2020.

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