Postdoctoral Fellow Rights and Responsibilities

Postdoctoral appointments provide a level of professionalization and training beyond Ph.D. education. The Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University are dedicated to providing a productive academic and research environment in which postdoctoral fellows can broaden and augment their scholarly abilities.

Emerging from discussions between the Homewood Postdoctoral Association and School leadership, this document is a declaration of the rights and responsibilities of postdoctoral fellows in the Krieger and Whiting Schools at Johns Hopkins University.

Pre-Entrance Health Forms Policy

As a matter of administrative process all new postdoctoral fellows are required to meet the University’s pre-entrance health requirements detailed on the Student Health and Wellness Center website (choose ‘Information for New Students’).

Compliance with the immunization requirements and screening tests listed on the website provided above must be completed prior to arrival on campus. Until a Pre-Entrance Health Form is on file and verified as in compliance, post-doctoral fellows will not be permitted to use the Health Center and will be considered out of compliance with University regulations.

Other Healthcare Information

If a postdoctoral fellow experiences a work-related injury — under these conditions, he or she should notify his or her supervisor immediately and contact the Homewood Office of Occupational Health Services at (410) 516-0450. This office provides immediate treatment for all work-related injuries and illnesses. If an injury should occur when the Office of Occupational Health Services is closed, postdocs should seek the appropriate medical treatment (including emergency services if needed) and follow-up with the Office of Occupational Health Services the next business day.

Postdoctoral Fellow Salary, Appointment Term Limits, Renewal Guidelines (WSE Only)

The Whiting School of Engineering uses the NIH salary guidelines as the benchmark for maintaining competitive and equitable postdoctoral fellow salaries.

For reference, the guidelines for postdoctoral salaries can be found by searching for “Stipend Levels for Postdoctoral Trainees” plus the current fiscal year, e.g. Stipend Levels for Postdoctoral Trainees 2023. Additional guidelines can be found on the NIH website.

  • The maximum term limit of a postdoctoral fellowship in WSE is five years post PhD (not counting breaks in employment). The WSE limits the duration to five years after the completion of the PhD degree so that postdocs are encouraged to study and refine their area of research but to also move on to a successful career.   An additional (6th) year takes planning and pre-approval from the cognizant dean and is rarely approved.
  • Requests made of the WSE Dean’s Office for new and renewal postdoctoral appointments with salaries below the recommended rate must include justification for the lower salary.
  • Renewals for postdoctoral fellow who are 6+ years past their PhD will have to be justified.
  • An updated CV must be included with all renewal requests.

Appointment and Reappointment Process

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering postdoctoral fellowship appointment terms and initial paperwork are administered through specific departments and their affiliated faculty. Appointment letters are approved and sent from the appropriate Dean’s Office upon departmental approval. Upon acceptance of the appointment invitation, prospective international postdoctoral fellows will be given further information regarding the visa process.  Prospective postdoctoral fellows who have not yet completed their Ph.D. requirements at the time of the initial offer will need to show certification of their degree requirement completion prior to beginning their appointment with Johns Hopkins. Appointed postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to remain mindful of their fellowship appointment start and end dates and to speak with their Advisor/PI/Department Administrator at regular intervals to ensure future plans are clear at least 4-5 months in advance of their end date. If there is any chance of renewal, international postdoctoral fellows need to make an appointment with OIS 6 months ahead of time. It is the postdoctoral fellow’s individual responsibility to ensure they remain in visa compliance at all times.

KSAS and WSE Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment Adjustment, Renewal, Probation, and Termination Policy

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (“KSAS”) and the Whiting School of Engineering (“WSE”) full-time programs, centers and institutes establish the following policy for appointment renewals, adjustments and/or terminations for postdoctoral fellows (collectively referred to as “ASEN postdoctoral fellows”). This Policy addresses the procedures regarding the renewals or adjustments of postdoctoral fellow appointments; as well as the consequences of ASEN postdoctoral fellow underperformance, including probation and termination. This policy applies to all new and continuing ASEN postdoctoral fellows but does not apply to postdoctoral fellows in the Sheridan Libraries, Carnegie Institute, or any other non-KSAS/WSE division.

Policy: KSAS and WSE Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment Adjustment Renewal Probation and Termination Policy

Postdoctoral Leave of Absence Policy

The Johns Hopkins University

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences/Whiting School of Engineering


The following policy applies to all postdoctoral fellows in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (‘KSAS’) and the Whiting School of Engineering (‘WSE’).


Emotional Support

  • Homewood postdoctoral fellows who need emotional support throughout this process are encouraged to consult My Support.

Policy Guidance and Additional Case Management Support

  • The Homewood KSAS and WSE offices of graduate and postdoctoral academic affairs may be consulted to help Homewood postdoctoral fellows understand this policy and their rights and responsibilities. The services of the Homewood KSAS and WSE offices of graduate and postdoctoral academic affairs are mostly confidential except when reporting is required by policy or law (for contact information and to review the Privacy Policy for ASEN Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs Advising, please visit


Postdoctoral fellows are entitled to petition for a leave of absence (LOA) from their appointment for up to one year or to the end of their postdoctoral appointment (whichever comes first) for the following reasons:

  • Medical (mental or physical)
  • Compulsory military service
  • Personal or family hardship
  • Bereavement
  • EAD-Gap LOA (Gap in Employment Authorization Documentation due to USCIS Delay)
  • Internship/Professional Development (not related to appointment)

The intent of this policy is to pause and protect a postdoctoral fellow’s appointment while they take an approved leave from duties. As such, every effort will be made to reinstate a postdoctoral fellow to their position upon their return from LOA, and this policy acts in good faith. That said, if there are critical/dire changes to the PI/advisor’s funding or research/advising capacity during the postdoctoral fellow’s period of leave, it may affect appointment terms upon their return from leave.


Initial Request for a Leave of Absence

To request leave, a postdoctoral fellow must provide their respective Dean’s Office representative (see bottom of policy for contacts) with the following documentation and information. Note that emails are accepted as ‘written’ documentation.

  1. A cover letter/email noting:
    1. their department/institute/center, their PI/advisor’s name, and appointment start and end date;
    2. a brief summary of the reason for the leave and the amount of time they are requesting leave;
  2. Written support/acknowledgment from the postdoctoral fellow’s PI/advisor/their department/institute/center;
  3. Written verification of OIS consultation (if an international postdoctoral fellow)
  4. Required support documentation (must be sent directly to the Dean’s office administrator):
    • Medical (mental or physical)
      • Written verification from a relevant treating medical provider (this may be from the Student Health and Wellness Center or MySupport).
    • Compulsory military service
      • Written verification from the Armed Services
    • Personal or family hardship
      • Written explanation from Postdoctoral Fellow detailing need (can be incorporated into the cover letter/email)
    • Bereavement
      • Letter/email from Postdoctoral Fellow detailing need
    • EAD-Gap LOA (Gap in Employment Authorization Documentation due to USCIS Delay)
      • Written verification of filed paperwork and USCIS delay from OIS
      • Written confirmation of intent of continued appointment from sponsoring program
    • Internship/Professional Development (not related to appointment)
      • Written documentation from Postdoctoral Fellow detailing opportunity

Decision and Notifications:

The Dean’s office representative will (1) review the petition and supporting materials,  (2) consult as needed with the postdoctoral fellow, OIS, dept, advisor, and/or HR for any clarifications or additional documentation,  (3) make the final decision, and will then (4) notify the postdoctoral fellow via email, cc-ing the postdoctoral fellow’s PI/advisor,  OIS, the department/institute/center, and HR/Student Employment (University Experiential Learning Office) as appropriate.

Returning from LOA:

 At least 10 business days before returning from a LOA, the postdoctoral fellow needs to send an email to the notification list above (including the Dean’s office administrator) citing their readiness to return with a projected return date.

Special supporting documentation to return from LOA:

 Medical LOA returns require supporting documentation from the treating medical provider indicating readiness to return (must be sent directly to the Dean’s office administrator)

  • EAD-Gap LOA returns require written approval from OIS and HR once the proper EAD is on file.

Extensions of LOA:

Leave of absence extensions may be subject to anticipated funding/research availability and the support of the principal investigator or advisor. Since an initial leave of absence extends for no more than a year, a new LOA petition needs to be completed for any extension beyond.

Rights and Privileges While on Leave:

While on leave of absence, postdoctoral fellows do not have campus privileges or access to university services and facilities; and are typically removed from student employment (payroll).  However, postdoctoral fellows on LOA (except for EAD-Gap LOAs) are eligible for employment through the University’s Human Resources Office.

All postdoctoral fellows seeking a leave are encouraged to contact HR benefits prior to their leave to understand the ramifications to their health insurance coverage and other benefits. With the exception of those postdoctoral fellows on EAD-Gap LOA (who can retain their insurance coverage but it cannot be paid for by the university), postdoctoral fellows on LOA may be eligible to retain their funded health insurance coverage.

International postdoctoral fellows must consult with OIS prior to taking an approved leave as there may be visa ramifications.

Special notes regarding Medical and EAD-GAP LOAs:

Medical LOAs:

Postdoctoral fellows approved for a medical LOA may be eligible/wish to file for short-term disability (STD) to help maintain a percentage of pay during their leave. All postdoctoral fellows are automatically enrolled in the university’s STD plan but will need to contact their department/institute/ center administrator and HR to activate the benefit. Medical LOAs are able to maintain their health insurance coverage while on leave.


This LOA status is limited to those cases where there is a pending H1-b application for hire at JHU that is imminent or an OPT EAD from a F-1 visa which is en route but not yet received (i.e. the visa/EAD card is expected to come within the 60 days) and there is a reason why the person cannot remain in their J or other category.

After 60 days, EAD-Gap LOAs must be terminated in SAP and can be rehired only once the new EAD is approved and in hand.  If the postdoctoral fellow will be departing employment at JHU adjacent to the end of a requested EAD-Gap LOA period, they would not be eligible for the EAD-Gap LOA and would instead need to be terminated in SAP. EAD-Gap LOAs are placed on leave without pay, but LOA HR will keep their benefits active for the 60 days.

While a Postdoctoral  Fellow is on an EAD-GAP LOA status, they may remain enrolled in their health insurance, but the university cannot pay the premimum for them.  When the updated EAD is in place the postdoctoral fellow will be placed back on payroll, and their benefits will revert back to how postdoctoral fellow’s fringe is usually paid.


This policy and associated procedures are subject to university compliance with FERPA (


Johns Hopkins University prohibits discrimination and harassment based on any protected characteristic, which includes sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status or other legally protected characteristic. OIE will investigate any allegations of discrimination in the application of this policy; and involved parties will be protected from retaliation.

For leave of absence in the Krieger School: Renee Eastwood,Director of Academic & Student Affairs for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows:
For leave of absence in the Whiting School: Christine Kavanagh, Assistant Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Academic Affairs,

Vacation and Sick Time

Krieger and Whiting postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to accrue and use vacation and sick days in the manner of full-time staff at Johns Hopkins, but are able to request time off within reason and take paid sick days.  The general practice has been to adhere to the policy of leave and vacation employed with graduate students (2 weeks of paid vacation every appointment/academic year).  Decisions regarding time off are largely under the purview of the primary advisor,  and a balance should be struck between the consideration of deadlines and deliverables and a postdoctoral fellow’s vacation plans.  Advisors may permit more than 2 weeks.  Postdoctoral fellows should communicate in advance (as soon as possible) with their primary advisor concerning any travel plans or planned absences, and are encouraged to document the request and approval (email is sufficient). As many times taking time for a sick day cannot be planned in advance, a postdoctoral fellow must reach out to their advisor as soon as possible to notify that they will be taking a sick day

Additional Policies