Engaging or Renewing a Postdoctoral Fellow

​​​​​​​​​​​University Policies

Faculty members who wish to engage a postdoctoral fellow are encouraged to review the Revised Engagement Details on the Vice-Provost's website and also to become familiar with the official policies for postdoctoral fellows established by Governing Council.  

Best Practices

While the Vice-Provost's office has established the ground rules for engaging a postdoc, there are a number of best practices for faculty and staff when engaging or renewing a postdoc.

  1. Postdocs are understood to be fully engaged in their research. If funding is not available for a year or the research project itself does not have a long ​​duration, a shorter fellowship period should be considered. 

  2. Postdocs should not be engaged prior to a successful defence although, in some instances, postdocs may be engaged prior to meeting all their degree requirements. Letters of engagement should stipulate that all requirements for the degree must be completed by a certain date (usually within six months of the start date of the fellowship); otherwise, the offer should be considered null and void.

  3. Because of immigration issues, it may not be possible to engage international postdoctoral fellows prior to the completion of all degree requirements. In most cases, the Canadian embassy will issue a work permit only when the applicant can supply a statement from their home institution attesting to the fact that the individual has met all degree requirements. The point at which such a letter can be provided will vary greatly among institutions. U of T will issue such a letter only after a defended and corrected thesis has been submitted to the electronic repository.

  4. Postdocs should be engaged with ​minimum funding of $31,000. This funding may be obtained by the postdoc as an award or fellowship​​, through the supervisor's operating grants, or through departmental funds (or any combination thereof).  Postdocs must NOT be self-funded (i.e., here on their own private funds).  Care must be taken to ensure that postdocs who have obtained funding from an external agency, inside or outside Canada, meet the minimum funding requirement in Canadian dollars. Money obtained through a teaching appointment should NOT be considered as part of the minimum funding amount, unless this is part of the terms of an award.

  5.  In the case of an international postdoc whose engagement is renewed, OHIP will not be extended until the postdoc can produce the new extended work permit.  It can take at least four months from the application date to receive the new work permit, so renewal letters should be given to international postdocs as far in advance as possible.  Postdocs can continue their research in Canada on "implied status" if they applied 30 days prior to the end date of their original work permit, but they may not be able to re-enter the country on such a status if they leave Canada during this period (e.g., for a conference or over the December holiday) or receive health care, as mentioned above.

Postdoctoral Registration System

All on-campus postdocs, regardless of the source of their funding, and all off-campus postdocs paid through U of T payroll, must be registered in the Postdoctoral Registration System (PRS). The person responsible for postdoctoral matters at the unit level (e.g.,  business officer or graduate administrator) may access the database through their UTOR ID and password; if you are unsuccessful in accessing the database, email the  Postdoctoral Office. Ideally, no more than two people in any department would have access to this database.

Engagement Letters

Engagement letters will be generated automatically once all relevant information is entered onto the Postdoctoral Registration System (PRS). Once all signatures have been obtained (supervisor, chair, and postdoctoral fellow), confirm the engagement on the database. This step will initiate an exchange of information overnight between the PRS and UTORAUTH; UTORIDs will be assigned through this process.

Letters to obtain library access may be requested by postdocs the day following a confirmation in the PRS, up to one month ahead of the start date of the engagement.

The engagement letters should not be adjusted! Our legal counsel has reviewed them carefully to make sure they contain appropriate information and language. Please email the Postdoctoral Office​ if you think a change is necessary.


The Report feature on the PRS should be run at least once a term.  Please report any anomalies in your unit's profiles to the Postdoctoral Office. Anomalies include overlapping engagement dates, incorrect start and end dates, incorrect stipend amounts, and incorrect statuses (e.g., the status shows completed when the postdoc is still engaged, or the engagement has not been confirmed).

Minimum Salary/Stipend

The minimum stipend is $30,500 for 2015; the minimum stipend increases to $31,000 as of January 1, 2016. The minimum stipend or salary applies to both employee and trainee postdocs. 

Engagement of International Postdoctoral Fellows

All international postdocs must have a work permit, regardless of the length of their stay or the nature of their research. Postdocs must provide proof that they have applied for a renewed work permit before the current permit expired in order to continue working in Canada (on "implied status"). Postdocs who leave Canada on implied status lose that status upon returning to Canada and can no longer work or receive pay until their new permit arrives. For more information on the department's role in inviting and renewing an international postdoc, please visit the ​Immigration​ Resources​ page on the HR & Equity website, or email

More information for international postdocs is available under New to Toronto.  

Registration at the Postdoctoral Office

Postdocs must visit the Postdoctoral Office to:

  • ​enrol in the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) (if international);

  • enrol in the Green Shield benefit (if paid through U of T payroll); and

  • obtain a letter to access University of Toronto Libraries' system.

Graduate units should not issue letters for library access, but should advise PDFs to visit the office after they have been confirmed in the database.

Teaching Appointments

Departmental chairs and faculty are requested to review the CUPE 3902 Unit 1 Collective Agreement prior to engaging a postdoctoral fellow. Postdocs may not teach under Unit 3.

Postdocs who undertake duties such as teaching responsibilities while engaged at the University will fall under the provisions of the collective agreement. Union dues will be deducted on earnings for the teaching portion of the postdoctoral activities.

If teaching responsibilities are a requirement of an external grant or award, the postdoc​ would still fall under the CUPE 3902 collective agreement for the teaching portion of his/her engagement; in this instance, Labour Relations should be contacted regarding posting provisions. Please consult the CUPE 3902 Collective Agreement and/or email Labour Relations​ for further information.

Teaching appointments are separate from the postdoctoral engagement, and the remuneration from such appointments is not calculated as part of the minimum stipend amount unless the teaching is a requirement of an award.​​​