Candidate Evaluation and Selection

Candidates in all fields are evaluated by faculty reviewers in their own and related fields. Reviewers will evaluate candidates according to their academic accomplishments, the strength of their research proposal, and their potential for faculty careers that will advance Penn State’s commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity through their teaching, research, and service. Reviewers may also consider the mentor’s potential to work productively with the candidate and the mentor’s commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity in higher education. Faculty reviewers will submit their recommendations to the Dean of their respective college, and final selections will be determined in consultation with the Office of the Provost.

In evaluating the candidates’ potential to contribute to inclusion, equity, diversity and equal opportunity through their academic careers, faculty review committees may consider the following criteria:

Teaching and Service

Applicants are encouraged to address these points in their Education Background Statement.

  • Applicants who have the potential to contribute to higher education through their understanding of the barriers facing women, domestic minorities, students with disabilities, and other members of groups underrepresented in higher education careers, as evidenced by life experiences and educational background.
    • Attendance at a minority-serving institution.
    • Ability to articulate the barriers facing women, racial minorities, and other groups in fields where they are underrepresented.
    • Participation in higher education pipeline programs such as Summer Research Opportunity Programs or McNair Scholars.
  • Applicants with a record of academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and other groups in fields where they are underrepresented.
  • Applicants with a record of leadership or significant experience teaching and mentoring students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education.
  • Applicants who have demonstrated significant academic achievement by overcoming barriers such as economic, social, or educational disadvantage.
  • Applicants with a record of leadership or significant experience performing public service addressing the needs of our increasingly diverse society.


Applicants are encouraged to address these points in their Research Proposal.

  • Applicants with the potential to bring to their academic research the critical perspective that comes from their understanding of the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in higher education or underserved by academic research generally.
  • Applicants in science, technology, engineering and math fields who can articulate how their research has the potential to serve the needs of groups that have been historically underserved by academic research.
  • Applicants who, in addition to their primary field of interest in math, science, engineering and technology fields, have the potential to make research contributions to understanding the barriers facing members of groups who have been historically underrepresented in these fields in higher education. For example:
    • Studying patterns of participation and advancement of women, racial minorities, and other groups in academic fields where they are underrepresented.
    • Evaluating research programs, curricula and teaching strategies designed to enhance participation of students from groups underserved by higher education.
  • Applicants in any field who have research interests focusing on underserved populations and understanding issues of racial or gender inequalities. For example:
    • Research that addresses issues such as race, gender, diversity and inclusion.
    • Research that addresses topics such as health disparities, educational access and achievement, political engagement, economic justice, social mobility, civil and human rights, and other questions of interest to historically underrepresented groups.
    • Artistic expression and cultural production that reflects culturally diverse ommunities or voices not well represented in the arts and humanities.

Other Factors That May Be Considered

Faculty review committees may give less consideration to applicants who currently hold tenure-track faculty appointments or have received faculty offers; who have already had significant postdoctoral experience; who propose to work in the department where they received their Ph.D.; or who currently hold postdoctoral appointments with their proposed mentor.

Applicants in any of the situations mentioned above should address their circumstances in their application. For example, an applicant who is staying in the same department due to family needs would be given full consideration.


Successful applicants must present documents demonstrating that they are legally authorized to work in the United States without restrictions or limitations. The University will not sponsor employment visas for this fellowship, but can sponsor J-1 Exchange Visitor visas. Please note that in compliance with federal law, all persons selected will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification document form upon hire. Information regarding citizenship, gender, race and ethnicity is requested for statistical purposes only and will not be provided to the Selection Committee.

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In 2021, Penn State joined in a collaborative partnership with the University of California and other leading universities to offer postdoctoral fellowship opportunities for promising scholars. In this program, Penn State now offers postdoctoral research fellowships in most academic disciplines, coupled with faculty mentoring, professional development, and academic networking opportunities.

President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802