How do I get Postdoctoral Funding?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Postdoctoral funding can be an important part in the career of an academic. This funding allows for a certain period of time during which a postdoc can further research a topic relevant to his or her specialty. It also provides time during which postdocs can hone certain skills. Another reason that people with PhDs often seek postdoc funding is that postdoctoral research is now required by some universities for anyone seeking faculty positions.

Astronomers who have a background in radio telescopy often receive government grants for research.
Astronomers who have a background in radio telescopy often receive government grants for research.

One of the best ways to get postdoctoral funding is to apply for a postdoctoral position at a university. Postdoctoral research associates, for example, are afforded funding to complete their own research or to collaborate on others on research. The term postdoctoral research associate is often synonymous with the terms postdoctoral research assistant and postdoctoral research fellow.

The White House may offer postdoctoral funding.
The White House may offer postdoctoral funding.

In order to be eligible for a position that provides postdoctoral research funding you must, of course, have already completed your doctoral studies. Depending on the university or universities to which you apply, there may be additional prerequisites for the position. One of these prerequisites may be teaching experience, as some universities may ask you to split your time between research and instruction.

There are also postdoctoral funding opportunities outside of university appointments. One very well-respected postdoctoral fellowship is the Fulbright fellowship, which is organized by the United States Department of State. Fulbright fellowships are available for both United States citizens and non-citizens.

There are a number of other organizations outside of the realm of academia that offer postdoctoral funding. These organizations offer funding across a wide variety of disciplines. The United States National Science Foundation, for example, offers postdoctoral funding to individuals studying astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, mathematics, atmospheric sciences, biological informatics, and studies related to the polar regions of our planet. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, for another example, offers postdoctoral funding to people who are studying public policy.

Other organizations that offer postdoctoral funding are the National Research Council, The White House, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Council on Education, The American Physical Society, The American Political Science Association, The American Psychological Association, The American Sociological Association, The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Humanities. This is not an exhaustive list. Rather, it simply indicates the numerous fields in which postdoctoral funding is available.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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