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Administrator's Guide to Postdocs

Supporting the culture of caring at MIT

Postdocs who are well supported will have more satisfying and successful experiences at MIT. Faculty members in turn benefit from more productive research relationships, and administrators have smoother interactions overall. It is our hope that the following will be helpful to administrators in crafting programs and overall procedures that address the unique needs of our postdoctoral community and enhance, strengthen, and streamline the experience for everyone.

There are several things to keep in mind about this guide:

  • It contains general information and baseline best practices. It is not intended to be comprehensive or to address all the possible applications of, or exceptions to, the general procedures and practices described. It is intended as a framework and not a “one size fits all” approach. Since all departments, laboratories, centers, and institutes have unique needs and varying resources, the guidelines should be modified to suit each area’s culture, staffing, budget, and existing practices.
  • Some topics addressed here are covered in detail in either MIT Policies and Procedures or the Personnel Policy Manual. Please refer to those documents for specific information.
  • Practices described here may be modified or discontinued periodically; we will try to keep this up to date.
  • The examples should be treated as confidential, for the use of MIT employees and others affiliated with MIT. View examples (requires MIT certificates).

Baseline for Success


  • Departments, laboratories, centers, and institutes (DLCIs) have in place an efficient and timely process for getting information and the necessary approvals.
  • Examples


  • Postdocs know the terms of their appointment and can access web certificates and online MIT resources.
  • Examples

First days

  • Postdocs are personally greeted and oriented, either in a group or in a one-on-one conversation.
  • Postdocs feel welcome and know whom to go to for assistance (this could be one point person who filters questions and refers to others as needed, or it could be several people).
  • Examples


  • Postdocs know how to access key MIT resources and know people in their local areas.
  • The faculty supervisor is accessible and a mentor plan has been developed, including peer mentorship.
  • The faculty supervisor and postdoc are in regular communication, with on-going feedback.
  • Terms of reappointment are known well in advance; salary meets guidelines; productive annual reviews take place.
  • Career guidance, professional development, and networking opportunities are in place, and resources shared.
  • Postdocs are aware of resources for social opportunities and work-life balance.
  • Examples


  • Postdocs receive information on practical tasks necessary when leaving MIT as well as guidance on preparing for life after MIT.
  • DLCIs receive information from departing postdocs as well as from postdoc “alums” to improve the experience of postdocs still at MIT.
  • Examples

Do you have suggestions or examples to share?

Contact Dana Bresee Keeth (bresee at