After receiving a Ph.D., many students decide to continue their research, gaining expertise in a specialized subject and professional skills, before entering the challenging job market. Applying for and completing a postdoctoral appointment may be a beneficial next step for these students. According to the National Postdoctoral Association, such opportunities are becoming a more common career step before applying for a permanent position.

Characteristics of Postdoctoral Studies

A postdoctoral appointment is a temporary position that lasts generally between one and five years. In order to complete an appointment, postdoctoral students primarily must pursue research; however, they may take part in clinical experiences and other projects as well. Postdoctoral students, or postdocs, also may have an opportunity to specialize further in a chosen field. These positions are available in a variety of subjects, from the sciences to the humanities, but are more often science-oriented. It is essential and expected that research and scholarship resulting from the postdoctoral appointment will be published.