Applying For a Postdoctoral Fellowship at SFU

Fellowship Eligibility 

To become an SFU postdoctoral fellow you must first complete a PhD program.

Although not mandated by SFU Policy R. 50.03, postdoctoral fellows are normally appointed at within four years of completing their PhD. 

Types of Postdoctoral Fellowships at SFU

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at SFU, you will be associated with one or more faculty colleagues for the purpose of research collaboration. The supervising faculty member usually provides the resources needed to support the collaborative research activities.

There are two categories of SFU PDFs: External PDF and Grant PDFs (see the Definitions section for more details).

External Postdoctoral Fellows receive their stipends either directly from an external agency or through SFU from funds that are provided to SFU by an external agency for administration on behalf of that agency. External PDFs do not have an employment relationship with SFU. They work independently under the mentorship of a supervising faculty member at SFU.

Grant Postdoctoral Fellows receive their compensation from research grants or contracts awarded to SFU faculty members. Grant PDFs, although not employees of the University, are employees of the grant holder (Faculty Supervisor) and can be viewed as employees.

How to Find a Fellowship

The first step in applying for an SFU postdoctoral fellowship is to contact a faculty member who matches your research interests. Each department should have a list of faculty members and their research topics and postdoctoral fellowship applications are made directly to a specific faculty member(s).

Where to Apply for Positions

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies does not accept postdoctoral fellowship applications.

SFU departments are responsible for appointing postdoctoral fellows after this consultation occurs.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Supervising Faculty Member

It is important to identify expectations at the beginning of the fellowship in order to ensure that it is a fit for both sides.

Below are some of the questions that should be asked of a supervising faculty member when considering a postdoctoral fellowship at SFU:

  • What are the supervisor's expectations of the PDF?
  • Will the supervisor or the PDF determine the research program?
  • How many PDFs has this supervisor had? Where did they go afterward?
  • Can I contact current and past lab members about their experience? – Ask for email addresses or phone numbers
  • How will the relationship work? 
  • How much time will the supervisor have for mentoring? Will there be other mentors?
  • How many others (grad students, staff, PDFs) currently work for the supervisor? 
  • What is the expected publication rate and to which journals? What will your role be on publications?
  • What is the supervisor's policy on travel to meetings?
  • What is the supervisor’s policy on authorship and ownership of ideas?
  • Will I have opportunities to practice grant writing? Oral presentations? Review of manuscripts?
  • Will I have the opportunity to perform any teaching or mentorship?
  • What will happen if I do not complete a project before I take another appointment?
  • How long is financial support guaranteed? On what does appointment renewal depend?
  • Can I count on help in finding my next position?
  • Will the supervisor have adequate research funds to support the proposed research? 

Modified from Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineering, A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies, National Academy Press, Washington, DC. For the complete text see The National Academies Press website.