About SFU Postdoctoral Positions


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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 five years of completing their PhD. 


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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:

Internal Postdoctoral Fellows 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.

External Postdoctoral Fellows 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. External PDFs do not have an employment relationship with SFU. They work independently under the mentorship of a supervising faculty member at SFU.


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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:

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

  • PDF Appointment Form is required for both Internal and External PDFs. Upon receiving the completed form from the department, HR Research People Team ( will begin the administrative set-up of the PDF, which includes sending the Offer of Employment letter (Internal PDFs) or Invitation letter (External PDFs).


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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.