Postdoctoral Fellows


There are two types of Postdoctoral Fellows at SFU: External PDFs and Internal PDFs, depending on their funding source. It is vital that staff and faculty members who assist PDFs administratively understand the difference between the distinctions, as the administrative procedures for the two types of PDFs are different. Please refer to Postdoctoral Fellows Policy R.50.03

  1. External PDF's who have secured funding from an external funding organization or a fellowship program which is external to the University and whose salary is paid wholly from such funding will be appointed as an External PDF.

    An External PDF is not an employee of the University. Faculty Relations will issue a Letter of Invitation to begin the SFU administration of these PDFs. Use of the University's facilities to manage and account for an External PDF’s funding, including processing of payroll and benefits administration, does not alter the status of an appointment as an External PDF.

    External PDF earnings are not insurable. Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance will not be deducted. However, External PDF earnings are subject to Canadian income tax deductions. A T4 will be generated at year end.

  2. Internal PDFs whose salary is paid in whole or in part either from funds held by a University faculty member or from the University’s financial resources or a combination of the two will be appointed as an Internal PDF. An Internal PDF is an employee of the University. Faculty Relations will issue a Letter of Employment, which once signed by the PDF begins the employment relationship with SFU. Grant-funded PDFs are subject to Canadian Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and Canadian income tax deductions and may be eligible for benefits. A T4A will be generated at year end.

Appointment or Invitation

All PDF appointments, renewals and terminations must be processed through Faculty Relations.

All PDFs require a PDF Appointment Form regardless of their funding arrangement. Upon receiving the completed form, Faculty Relations will begin the administrative set-up of the PDF, which includes payroll and their Invitation letter (External PDFs) or Offer of Employment letter (Internal PDFs). The letter outlines the PDFs’ relationship to the University, as well as what benefits, if any, they may be eligible for. 

On June 27, 2019,  R50.03 Postdoctoral Fellows Policy underwent a significant number of changes. Faculty and staff who support and supervise PDFs should familiarize themselves with these changes. The processes to support these policy changes are currently under development and will be posted as available on this page. In the meantime, requests for assistance can directed to:

Responsibility for the policy resides with the Office of the Vice-President Research, while Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) retains responsibility for advocacy, academic and cultural support.

All PDF appointments, renewals and terminations must be processed through Faculty Relations.

The Supervisor maintains responsibility for the recruiting, appointing, and supervising a PDF during their time at SFU.

For more information see Research Personnel Initiative (RPI).


Before the Appointment / Grant Funding Considerations

As employees, eligible Internal PDFs will qualify for benefits. These benefits are funded through the associated research grant(s).
Subject to the rules of the funding agency, external PDFs may be offered benefits at the discretion of their faculty supervisor.

Effective September 1, 2019 budgeting for the full costs of benefits must be taken into consideration when applying for grants. Grants in place before September 1, 2019 may qualify for bridge funding if the grant is unable to cover the incremental cost (up to 4%) associated with the offer of extended benefits.

Grant Application Considerations Effective September 1, 2019

Bridge Funding



Appointing a PDF  

The PDF Appointment Form, along with the necessary supporting documentation is used by Faculty Relations to generate the offer of employment / invitation letter. The information on this form will also be used to create the employment record, and initiate payroll.

Special attention must be given to the accuracy of the information provided, particularly as it relates to the annual salary and vacation time. For internal PDFs, annual salary represents the amount the PDF will be paid on a yearly basis, exclusive of employer paid statutory deductions and benefits. The PDF will continue to be responsible for their portion of statutory deductions (CPP, EI and CIT).

Managing a PDF  

Page under construction, please check back soon.

Contact for any questions.

Ending a PDF appointment

Page under construction, please check back soon.

Contact for any questions.

PDF Appointment Form

Download, complete and please send this form and all the applicable documents to Faculty Relations - Strand Hall Annex 600, and send copy of this form to Research Accounting (send email) to with subject line “postdoc appointment form”.


Contact for any questions.