Postdoctoral Fellows (PDFs) are valuable members of the university; they contribute immensely to the vitality of the research environment. In general, PDFs come to the university in order to:

  • gain additional research experience and expertise
  • develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become independent investigators themselves
  • engage in research projects that provide the challenge necessary for intellectual growth rather than provision of technical support


Post-doctoral fellows (PDFs) are here to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become independent investigators. PDFs make intellectual contributions to both the conception and the completion of research. It is expected that PDFs are engaged in research projects that provide the challenge necessary for intellectual growth rather than provision of technical support. Supervisors can expect that a PDF will contribute significantly to the intellectual development of the research project.

While a PDF should be capable of independent work, the PDF must work on projects that are of interest to the Supervisor, who provides the environment and often the funding that allows the research to be carried out. There is a requirement that the PDF will comply with the University of Saskatchewan policy on the storage of data and share all research results and conclusions with the Supervisor.

A PDF is considered a trainee under the supervision of a faculty member who is a member of the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

Research Responsibilities

The Supervisor is required to provide a research environment suitable for the completion of the research work that the PDF will undertake. The nature of this research should be appropriate to the PDF’s desire to gain additional experience. The PDF must acknowledge the role of the Supervisor in the general direction of the research, and provide all research findings to the Supervisor in a timely and cooperative manner. The Supervisor has responsibility for the management of the research space and activity to ensure compliance with University policies including certificates for Animal Care and Human Ethics. The Supervisor will ensure that the original copy of research data is stored in their office or other working space for a period of five years.


The University and most granting agencies encourage PDFs to participate in a limited amount of teaching activity as part of their funded activity. Normally, teaching will be limited to a maximum of three credit units per annum. 

As the primary purpose of a PDF is to conduct research rather than to gain teaching experience, a PDF who intends to teach should discuss this with the Supervisor before applying in order to establish whether or not the terms of the grant or fellowship allow teaching. The Supervisor must also be satisfied that the research obligations and responsibilities of the PDF will not be negatively affected by any teaching duties and responsibilities.

Selection process

Faculty members who have funding to support a PDF usually conduct the selection process personally.  PDF positions may also be posted online and an interview process may be required.  PDF candidates may be required to submit documentation, such as a CV, letters of reference, official transcripts forwarded directly from the granting institutions, research papers in press or submitted or a brief research proposal.


The University of Saskatchewan requires that PDFs receive a minimum stipend of at least $35,000 per annum (1.75 times the Ph.D. level University Graduate Scholarship award) and normally expects PDFs to be fulltime researchers. Income earnings are considered stipend and therefore are not subject to Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) or Employment Insurance (EI) deductions. Income is subject to Canadian Income tax.


Since PDFs are appointed to trainee positions they are not considered to be in an employment relationship and as such are not subject to legislated labour benefits.

PDFs are eligible to purchase membership into the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). With a GSA membership, PDFs can enrol in and purchase the Graduate Students’ Health & Dental Plan. PDFs are not automatically covered by the GSA Health & Dental plan and must self enrol in the program. Visit studentcare.ca for more information and rates.

Although as a trainee, paid vacation for PDFs is not mandatory, it is a principle the University supports. Therefore, the PDF should be provided with a minimum of three weeks’ vacation time per year (earned at a minimum rate of 1 1/4 days/month). Vacation time should be taken prior to end of their term at a mutually agreed-upon time. Consistent with the academic tradition, vacation pay for time not taken is not normally paid upon termination.

PDF Research Allowances

Many agencies, which provide direct funding to PDFs from national competitions, also provide small research allowances. These research allowances when administered by the University of Saskatchewan must be held by a faculty member or equivalent, who must ensure the application of University policies to the management of these accounts.

Different agencies have specific rules concerning these allowances, about which the Research Services office, Research Administration, will provide advice. However, most of the granting agencies that provide these funds do so for the benefit of the PDF, not the benefit of the Supervisor. These funds are often intended to provide a benefit (e.g. travel for meetings and conferences, journal subscription, computer & software, and possibly moving expenses, etc.) that might not be normally available to other PDFs from the Supervisor’s funding. These funds are not to be used to provide for the normal costs of research, which are the Supervisor’s responsibility. In the absence of regulations from the Granting Agency, all items purchased with these funds remain the property of the University of Saskatchewan. Transfer of ownership may be arranged subject to application.



To be eligible as a PDF at the University of Saskatchewan, the candidate must have been awarded a PhD or equivalent within five years immediately preceding the appointment.

Length of Term

Duration of appointments are limited, renewable to a maximum of five years from the date of Ph.D. completion.

Choosing a Supervisor

While a prospective PDF may seek opportunities by contacting prospective supervisors, the search for and recruitment of a Postdoctoral Fellow is the responsibility of the supervisor. PDFs are recruited by mutual agreement between the candidate and a University of Saskatchewan faculty member.

As a prospective PDF, you can:

The Appointment Process

Step 1: Reach an agreement in principle with a faculty member

Before entering into an agreement, the proposed supervisor and PDF candidate should read the Postdoctoral Fellows policy.

The supervisor is required to informally confirm that the candidate is eligible for appointment and will work with the candidate to reach a tentative agreement regarding appointment details.

The supervisor is required to draft a Letter of Offer and will send it to the candidate for review. If the candidate agrees, they will submit a signed copy of the Letter of Offer to the supervisor and home department.

Step 2: Complete the Appointment Process

1. The home department will complete a PDF Registration form. Please ensure that remuneration is at least $35,000 per annum. The home department will send the completed registration form and Intellectual Property Agreement to the candidate for signature.

2. The Postdoctoral Fellow Candidate will submit the following documents to the home department:

  • Signed Registration form
  • Current curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Proof of doctorate degree completion
  • Signed Intellectual Property Agreement
  • A colour scan of the biographical page of your passport
  • Copy of External Award Letter (if applicable)
  • Copy of Permanent Resident Card (if applicable)

3. The home department will compile all documents listed above, including the signed letter of offer, into a single .pdf file and submit the package to CGSR for approval.

All PDF Registration Packages can be sent via email to the Coordinator for Postdoctoral Fellows at pdf.coordinator@usask.ca.

4. The PDF registration package is reviewed and approved by CGSR. A copy of the approved PDF Registration package will be sent to the home department. Please note, PDF appointments are not considered complete until approved by CGSR.

5. For International applicants - Upon approval by CGSR, an Offer of Employment form will be submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on behalf of the PDF. A copy of the information package will be provided to the PDF, via email, with instructions regarding obtaining a work permit. The PDF may not apply for a work permit until the email from HR immigration has been received, confirming eligibility to apply for and obtain a work permit. Upon receipt of the work permit, the PDF will submit a scanned colour copy to the home department and to the PDF Coordinator in CGSR (pdf.coordinator@usask.ca).

Step 3: Home Department completes hiring processes

Upon receipt of the approved PDF package, the home department will submit an NSID Account Request Form on behalf of the PDF.

On the PDF appointment start date, the home department will submit the following:
Please note, for International applicants a copy of the work permit and SIN letter must be received before proceeding

  • Electronic Job Submission (EJS) – submitted in AboutUS
  • Federal Tax Form – submitted to HR
  • Provincial Tax Form – submitted to HR