Guidelines & Policies

HMS/HSDM Salary and Stipend Levels

Postdoc Office Annual Report
Each year the Postdoc Office voluntarily publishes and shares an annual report that summarizes the major activities of the office including programming efforts, successes/challenges, demographics, and policy issues. You can read and download the 2017 report HERE.  

Benefits for postdocs at Harvard vary depending on the postdoc’s employment classification (employee, stipendee, or direct-pay). To participate in many of Harvard’s benefits, you must be:
- Employed on a regular University payroll
- Receiving a paycheck from Harvard
- Working at least 17.5 hours per week or paid at a base annual rate of at least $15,000

Click HERE and HERE for information about Benefits for Postdocs
Click HERE for information about how benefits are handled upon exit/termination (with exception of vacation payout and Harvard-sponsored retirement). 

Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) and School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the HMS/HSDM community is, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity. 

Harvard University has adopted a new Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy, which applies to all Harvard students, faculty, staff, postdocs, Harvard appointees, and third parties.
Find out more HERE.
Title IX Coordinator for HMS Staff and Quad-based Postdocs: José Martinez, Senior HR Compliance Manager

Statement of Mutual Respect and Public Discourse at Harvard Medical School - adopted September 2020

Harvard University Policy on Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace
The University's policy on drugs and alcohol in the workplace is designed to address the University's concern for the health and well-being of its employees, and to ensure that the Harvard community complies with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.  Complete policy.

Individual Development Planning (IDP)
The OPF has developed tools and programming to support the implementation of individual development planning (IDP). We encourage annual planning meetings between postdoctoral fellows and their mentors and provide templates and guidance for these meetings. The OPF also provides boilerplate language for NIH and NSF submissions and updates that address requirements for professional development and IDP utilization. The OPF has also increased its outreach to faculty, partnering with the Quad Faculty Development Committee to offer faculty workshops and training in the effective use of individual development planning in the lab. The potential impact of widespread and coordinated faculty participation in the IDP process are better retention, faster time to training completion, documentation of progress/issues, better working relationships, and a mutual understanding of research and career path.

Academic Appointment
Postdoctoral fellows are granted the academic title of "Research Fellow" in their academic appointing department. The academic appointment and title provides you with a Harvard University ID badge and privileges associated with officers of Harvard University. Your academic appointment as a "Research Fellow" is an annual appointment that commences at the time of your arrival and is renewable on July 1st of each year to end on June 30th of the following year or until your postdoctoral training is completed.

A "Research Fellow" is described in the Faculty of Medicine Handbook ( as an "individual who holds an advanced degree in an appropriate field and who are conducting mentored research with members of the faculty as postdoctoral fellows to develop their research ability and skill." Your appointment record is maintained by the HMS Office of Human Resources (HR) in the University's HR/Payroll/Benefits system, Peoplesoft.

To search the handbook by a keyword, it is recommend that you open the document within your web browser and use Document Keyword Search by selecting "Control + F" (or "Command + F" on Mac). The search field option will open in the upper right-hand corner (lower left-hand corner on Mac).

Please Note: This appointment is merely the conveyance of an academic title. Although "Research Fellows" working in the Medical School’s affiliated hospitals and institutions may have a HMS appointment, they are generally not paid by Harvard and their salary and benefits derive and are administered through their place of work.

Vacation and Holidays
Similar to Faculty, full time Research Fellows who serve on a 12-month basis are allowed all University Holidays and up to an additional 20 days of vacation per year at a time arranged with their supervisor. This time may not be accrued from year to year, and there can be no payout of unused vacation time when an appointment ends.

Sick Days
Sick leave may be taken as needed. If illness extends beyond two weeks then documentation from a doctor may be required to qualify for short term disability coverage.

Maternity Leave

Click here to download "Maternity Leave Benefits Summary for the Post Docs and Faculty of Harvard Longwood Campus and Affiliate Institutions"
Post Docs here LESS than 7 years: 75% pay of 8 Weeks Short Term Disability + 4 Weeks Parental Leave at 100%
Post Docs here MORE than 7 years: 100 % pay of 8 Weeks Short Term Disability + 4 Weeks Parental Leave

Parental Leave
Parental leave for birth or adoptive parents includes up to four weeks of paid time off,to be taken within the 13 weeks following birth or placement for adoption, paid for through the same source as the postdoc’s salary/stipend. You may choose between two options:
Option 1:One week of leave paid at 100 percent of your current pay rate;
Option 2: Four weeks of leave paid at 75 percent of your current pay rate for those postdocs with less than seven years of service.

Paid Family Medical Leave - New Policy Begining January 2021

Leave of Absence
Please contact the HMS HR Leave of Absence specialist: Antonia Gonzalez, (617) 432-1024 or via email:

HMS/HSDM Salary/Stipend Levels
Consistent with our historic practice, when the NIH announces their new minimum stipend for NRSA Fellows, HMS will initiate a Salary Guideline review. Any new postdoctoral fellow salary minimum will be agreed upon unanimously and implemented simultaneously across the HMS/HSDM pre-clinical departments. The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, in consultation with the pre-clinical Chairs, Human Resources, the Dean for Research Operations and Global Programs, and the Office for Postdoctoral Fellows we aim to set the minimum salary at or above the prevailing NIH NRSA Fellowship scale. Incomes above these guidelines are at the discretion of the individual Faculty Mentors and/or their departments.

Postdoctoral Minimum Salary/Stipend Guidelines go into effect July 1 of the current Fiscal Year.

Postgraduate Years of Experience

FY '19
July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

FY '20
July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

FY '21
July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021


$ 48,432




$ 48,804




$ 49,188




$ 51,324




$ 53,184




$ 55,308




$ 57,528




$ 59,736



Determining Salary Level (PGY)
According the NIH Stipend Guidelines, which we recommend, the salary/stipend level (PGY) for the entire first year of support is determined by the number of full years of relevant postdoctoral experience when hired. Relevant experience may include research experience (including industrial), teaching, internship, residency, clinical duties, or other time spent in a health-related field beyond that of the qualifying doctoral degree. 
When these issues arise, we generally advise that labs/departments use the same criteria as the NIH.

Tax Reporting of Fellowship Income
A fellowship is any amount paid or allowed to, or for the benefit of, an individual to aid such individual in the pursuit of study or research. As Research Fellows at Harvard Medical School are non-degree seeking trainees, any fellowship amount received is considered taxable income. For more information, please see the Tax Services document found HERE. Please be aware that the Tax Services unit and the HMS/HSDM Office for Postdoctoral Fellows cannot administer individual tax advice in paying income taxes and you are strongly encouraged to seek the assistance of tax professionals.
Tax Information for "Non-Employee" postdocs or Postdocs on Fellowships (from the National Postdoctoral Association)

Virtually all postdoc fellowships funded from U.S. sources are subject to income tax because they pay for living expenses. However, often fellowships and traineeships are not subject to automatic tax withholding. This is most often true with “direct-paid” fellowships -- fellowship stipends that are paid directly to the postdoc -- although it is sometimes the case with fellowships that are paid through the institution.

Those fellowships without automatic tax withholding are still subject to the IRS requirement that income tax be paid on a regular basis throughout the tax year, and not all at once at the end of the year. Thus, postdocs without withholding should make estimated tax payments each quarter in order to avoid a penalty.

Postdocs on fellowships must also file a tax return between January 15 and April 15 for the previous tax year. Postdoc fellows and trainees may receive a W-2 or 1099-MISC Form reporting their total fellowship income, or they may receive no summary form at all.
Visit the NPA website for more details.

Tax Resources for International Postdocs - Please see the HIO website FAQ section: Tax Filing Information from HIO:

For international postdocs, make sure to visit the Harvard International Office's website on taxes and social security:

Environmental, Health and Safety Training
All laboratory personnel (including postdocs) are required to take environmental, health and safety training courses to include common regulatory training requirements for their job category and additional training specific to the type of work they will be performing in the lab. Postdoctoral fellows must complete the mandatory training prior to receiving a Harvard ID card as is outlined in the Risk Assessment Form.
The EH&S Training Management System was replaced in July 2016 with the Harvard Training Portal. This university-level Training Portal includes all your prior EH&S and other Harvard training history, and enables you to keep track of your training assignments, take web-based trainings and register for classroom trainings. For more details and FAQs, see

Annual Refresher Courses: Postdocs are required to take annual refresher training courses in Blood Borne Pathogens and Hazardous Waste. These courses may be can be accessed through the EH&S Harvard Training Portal website.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training
If you are a Postdoctoral Fellow engaged in research at Harvard Medical School you are required to participate in RCR training. The Division of Medical Ethics within Harvard Medical School holds a course annually. More details can be found on the website: The website also provides information about other RCR courses in the area.
Send an e-mail to to be notified when the next series of sessions is scheduled.