Frequently Asked Questions: Host Departments

Q: Does the applicant need a letter of support from the department head?

A: Yes. The Penn State President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program office, in concert with the proposed faculty mentor, will request a letter of support from the department head. This separate letter from the department head should comment on: the expected effectiveness of the mentoring plan; the mentor’s demonstrated commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity; the mentor’s history of postdoc advising; and the potential for a near-term opening for a faculty position in the disciplinary area of interest. The letter may also or alternatively identify a potential fit with another Penn State department, if appropriate.

Q: If the applicant is unable to relocate because of family reasons, should s/he still apply?

A: The program requires that fellows are in residence and establish a presence at the mentor’s campus, school, or department.

Q: Does the support from the University administration include space?

A: No. The annual award provides a salary of $53,000-$60,000, depending on the field and level of experience, and $10,000 for research, professional development, and moving expenses. The award also includes enrollment in a health plan for the fellow and dependents (with some contribution from the fellow), and other benefits as included at the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website. Penn State also has guidelines for postdoc parental leave. (Please note: Departments and mentors will make appropriate arrangements for space and other necessary resources).

Q: What are the expectations for Penn State host departments?

Host departments are encouraged to welcome the fellow into the department and make every effort to ensure that the fellow is included in communications about departmental colloquia, seminars and social events. Host departments are expected to provide the fellow with information about salary and benefits and administer the fellow's research and professional travel funds. Host departments are expected to provide the fellow with appropriate office and laboratory space, as well as computing and routine administrative support. In addition, President’s Postdoctoral Fellows should be provided with opportunities for career development.

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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