Postdoctoral Affairs

Brown University makes the following types of postdoctoral appointments:

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) — A PDRA is normally paid through the University payroll system, is considered an employee of the University, and is eligible for a set of benefits. The majority of postdocs at Brown are PDRAs. Information on benefits, responsibilities, and a full definition of the postdoctoral research associate rank can be found on the postdoctoral research associates page of this website.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow-NRSA (PDF-NRSA) — A PDF-NRSA is an individual who has received National Research Service Award (NRSA) funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This category includes both those receiving individual F32 fellowships and those receiving support from T32 institutional training grants. Per the terms of the award, PDF-NRSAs are not considered employees of the NIH or the University. Details on benefits and policies concerning PDF-NRSAs can be found here.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow-Direct Pay (PDF-Direct Pay) — A PDF-Direct Pay is an individual appointed solely at Brown but paid by an external grant or fellowship that is not directed through the University payroll system. A PDF-Direct Pay is not considered an employee of the University. Details on benefits and policies for a PDF-Direct Pay can be found here.
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PDRF) | HHMI Hanna Gray Fellows — A PDRF is considered an employee of the University and is eligible for a set of benefits. This appointment type only applies to recipients of the HHMI Hanna Gray Fellowship. All PDRFs will receive a salary supplement intended to cover the University's portion of an individual insurance premium. Please contact for more information if you receive this fellowship.

All types are intended to enhance and support the academic and research development of the appointee. Individuals holding postdoctoral appointments are supervised and mentored by a senior scholar and are guaranteed the freedom to publish. Since these appointments are intended to contribute to career development, they have limited terms. It is important to note that the benefits eligibility and payroll tax deductions are different depending on the appointment type.

Please note that in some fields, "postdoctoral fellow" is a generic term for all postdocs. If you are a postdoctoral research associate in such a field, you are welcome to refer to yourself on your CV or in other venues as a postdoctoral fellow. However, please be sure to specify your actual appointment type when communicating with University Human Resources to ensure you receive accurate information about your benefits.

Last updated: November 8, 2023.