Introduction to Postdoctoral Appointment Policy


At the University of California, Los Angeles, the postdoctoral experience emphasizes scholarship and continued research training for individuals who have recently completed a doctoral degree. The Postdoctoral Scholar conducts research under the general oversight of a UCLA faculty mentor in preparation for a career position in academe, industry, government or the non-profit sector. Postdoctoral work provides essential training in many disciplines for individuals pursuing academic careers and may include opportunities to enhance teaching and other professional skills.

Postdoctoral scholars contribute to the academic community by enhancing the research and education programs of the University. They bring expertise and creativity that enrich the research environment for all members of the University community, including graduate and undergraduate students. The University strives to provide a stimulating, positive, and constructive experience for the Postdoctoral Scholar by emphasizing the mutual commitment and responsibility of the institution, the faculty and the Postdoctoral Scholar.


Postdoctoral Scholars in the UC system are governed by the terms of the UAW labor contract ratified on August 12, 2010. The contract defines and sets forth terms and conditions relating to the appointment of Postdoctoral Scholars. It applies to:

  1. Postdoctoral Scholar – Employee (3252)
  2. Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellow (3253)
  3. Postdoctoral Scholar – Paid Direct (3254)

These descriptions are intended to be general. The University may concurrently appoint Postdoctoral Scholars to more than one Postdoctoral Scholar title. (Article 26)




  1. An individual development plan (IDP) provides a planning process that identifies the Postdoctoral Scholar’s general individual research goals, professional development and career objectives. It may also serve as a link to the supervisor’s research goal, and thus serves as a communication tool between a Postdoctoral Scholar and her/his supervisor. For the purposes of this Article, supervisor may be an appropriate designee approved by the Postdoctoral Scholar’s supervisor.
  2. Postdoctoral Scholars may elect to develop an IDP. The Postdoctoral Scholar shall follow the process outlined below:

    a. When developing an IDP the Postdoctoral Scholar may discuss her/his research goals, general professional development needs, and career objectives with the supervisor.

    b. In the event a Postdoctoral Scholar desires a written IDP, s/he will normally conduct a self assessment and discuss opportunities with her/his supervisor. The Postdoctoral Scholar may then submit a written draft of the IDP to the supervisor for discussion.

    c. The supervisor will share her/his knowledge about available development opportunities with the Postdoctoral Scholar, will review the IDP and provide advice about possible revisions as needed.

    d. When implementing the plan, if the Postdoctoral Scholar believes the plan requires revision, s/he will follow the process outlined in A.2.a., above. Goals may change based on evolving research needs.

    e. The Postdoctoral Scholar and the supervisor may engage in ongoing discussions regarding the IDP.


  1. A Progress Assessment is an evaluation of the Postdoctoral Scholar’s progress and accomplishment in research and professional development.
  2. Within a reasonable time after the beginning of each appointment, the supervisor, or in limited circumstances her/his appropriate academic designee, will communicate the supervisor’s research and progress expectations for the coming year. These expectations may include those components in an IDP that are directly related to the research assignment for that year.
  3. A Postdoctoral Scholar may request that the goals and expectations on which s/he will be assessed be provided to her/him in writing. in such circumstances:

    a. The Postdoctoral Scholar shall submit a written draft of the discussed goals and expectations as provided in B.2., above, to the supervisor for review.

    b. The supervisor will provide the Postdoctoral Scholar with the final goals and expectations upon which the Postdoctoral Scholar’s progress will be based.

  4. Periodic Reviews – The supervisor and the Postdoctoral Scholar shall periodically engage in informal oral Progress Assessments during her/his appointment. In these assessments, the supervisor and the Postdoctoral Scholar generally discuss the Postdoctoral Scholar’s recent research progress and overall research objectives. The structure of the Progress Assessment may vary with the discipline.
  5. Annual Review – The supervisor shall provide the Postdoctoral Scholar with at least one written review per 12-month period. This Annual Review is a comprehensive assessment of the Postdoctoral Scholar’s research progress and achievements, and her/his professional development during the previous year. The supervisor may utilize an independently developed or a pre-established form when conducting the Annual Review.
  6. The contents of Individual Development Plans, Progress Assessments and Annual Reviews are not grievable. However, if a Postdoctoral Scholar believes the assessment or the review contains factually incorrect statements, s/he may grieve those factual inaccuracies. In the event the Postdoctoral Scholar disagrees with the substantive aspects of the evaluation, s/he may file an addendum to her/his personnel file and/or discuss it with the Department Chair or Unit Director.

At UCLA, the Postdoctoral Scholar appointment is subject to the approval of the Graduate Division Dean. Currently, Associate Dean Joseph Watson serves in this capacity. All appointment requests are submitted to the Graduate Division’s Academic Services Office in 1255 Murphy Hall (Mailcode: 142801).