Annual Appointment Titles and Descriptions


The following titles are used for annual appointments:

This title is used for individuals whose duties lie in the conduct of research. Research Associates are expected to contribute, in collaboration with a Principal Investigator or faculty sponsor, to the design and implementation of research projects or programs. Research associates typically hold a doctoral degree (e.g., MD, PhD, ScD) and will ordinarily have at least 2 years of postdoctoral experience. Research Associate appointment in which the appointee does not have a doctoral degree may present complications for visa sponsorship strategies. Departments are encouraged to speak with the prospective scholars and Harvard International Office before finalizing commitments and plans with the scholars.

Their specific duties may include, but are not limited to, planning, conducting, and reporting original research; analysis and computation; designing, constructing, or operating highly complex research apparatus; and supervising the research operations of a laboratory or facility. Research Associates may informally participate in graduate student research training, but they may not be members of graduate committees, except as ad hoc additional, supplementary members. Research Associates normally have no responsibilities for formal teaching but may participate in seminars or specialized portions of courses to an extent consistent with the terms of their funding.

Although this appointment can be renewed annually, without limit, it is expected that those in this position will, within 3 to 5 years, be able to become more independent in their studies, and perhaps move to another appointment either within Harvard or at another institution.

The PeopleSoft job code for research associates is 061103 in the “Other Academic” employee class.

** Please refer to the grid “Non-faculty Research Titles” (PDF) for a comparison of the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications of non-faculty research appointments.  This grid provides guidance when considering whether an appointment as research associate is more appropriate than an appointment as research scientist.

This title is used for individuals in training status. Also referred to as a “postdoctoral fellowship,” this is an on-site, full-time training position. This title is used for individuals whose purpose is to achieve competence as an independent investigator. It may also be appropriate for an individual who, although well-qualified as an investigator in a given field, wishes to undertake training at the school in a different field. Research fellows must hold a doctoral degree (e.g., PhD, ScD, MD).

Generally, these appointments are limited to three annual appointments (thirty-six months of training). However, research fellows in the biological or laboratory sciences who have not had sufficient time to complete their training within three years may continue to hold this appointment for up to five years. In these cases, the faculty supervisor will be asked to verify that the research fellow is still in training during the fourth and fifth year of appointment.

The funding source determines whether a paid research fellow is an internal postdoc (paid a salary as a Harvard employee) or a non-employee postdoc (paid a stipend). Stipends will be paid only to those fellows whose funding source requires it. All research fellows are eligible for university benefits except for those fellows who are considered to be doing their own research, who are not working on a research program of a Harvard principal investigator, and who have outside health insurance.

All unpaid research fellows will be entered into the university system as non-employee postdocs, using the PeopleSoft job code 069599 in the “Non EE Post Docs” employee class.

The PeopleSoft job code for research fellows paid as employees (object code 6150) is 069591 in the “Internal Post Docs” employee class.

The PeopleSoft job code for research fellows paid a stipend (object code 6450) is 069599 in the “Non EE Post Docs” employee class.

The PeopleSoft job code for research fellows paid a stipend (object code 6452) who are NOT eligible for benefits is 069649 in the “Non EE Post Docs” employee class.

This title is reserved for individuals who make substantial contributions to the school’s teaching programs and who do not already hold an academic appointment that would allow them to teach at the school. Occasionally, a director of a continuing education course may also be appointed as instructor. Instructors are expected to hold a doctoral degree or a relevant professional master’s degree. This title, which is not analogous to the instructor title used at HMS, may not be used in combination with another academic title such as research associate.

The PeopleSoft job code for instructors is 000046 in the “Other Academic” employee class.

This title is used for individuals who visit the school either for a particular period of time or periodically, as well as for individuals based outside Massachusetts or overseas. Visiting scientists make significant contributions to academic projects and programs in collaboration with Harvard Chan School (SPH) faculty.  This includes individuals who occasionally visit SPH to provide scientific expertise on a research project, scientists at non-Harvard institutions who facilitate an SPH research project by serving as liaison to her/his home institution, as well as individuals engaged in teaching and mentoring activities such as hosting SPH students and postdocs at their home institution.  In some cases, faculty members from other institutions who visit SPH while on sabbatical are appointed as visiting scientists.  Ordinarily, visiting scientists hold a doctoral degree.

The PeopleSoft job code for visiting scientists is 017202 in the “Other Academic” employee class.

This title is used for nontraditional fellows in a specific fellowship program (i.e. Takemi and Fogarty) who make substantial contributions to academic projects and programs in collaboration with SPH faculty.

The PeopleSoft job code for visiting scholars is 069602 in the “External Post Docs NHR (N)” employee class. The object code is 6452 and this title is NOT eligible for benefits. Please only use if funding is coming from external funds.

In order for nontraditional fellows to be eligible for benefits, an alternative option is using the visiting scholar job code 069603 in the “Other Academic (O)” employee class.

Harvard Chan School (SPH) acknowledges the value in maintaining relationships with universities and academic colleagues at other institutions. These relationships offer opportunities for SPH faculty members, researchers, and students to engage in learning and research collaborations that benefit the school.

Harvard Chan School faculty members may sponsor a student who is enrolled in a graduate program at another university. The visiting graduate student will be given an academic appointment as visiting graduate student and, if needed, a J-1 visa. Sponsorship is strictly limited to students in the following categories:

  • students enrolled in a doctoral degree program at another institution
  • students enrolled in a master’s degree program at another institution who are in the final/research phase of their program (i.e., they will conduct some portion of their thesis research at SPH)

In addition to the documentation ordinarily required to process an academic appointment, visiting graduate students must provide the Office of Faculty Affairs with official documentation from their home institution of their status in their graduate degree program (including, for master’s-level students, a letter from their academic advisor or other institutional official verifying that they are in the final research phase of their program and will be conducting thesis research at SPH).

The PeopleSoft job code for visiting graduate students is 000081 in the “Temporary Academic” employee class.

The department associate appointment is an annual unpaid non-faculty appointment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which can be used for several specific and limited purposes.
This appointment is intended to foster collaboration with self-funded individuals engaged in activities that directly support the School’s teaching and/or research missions, who may not be eligible for any other appointment at SPH. The appointment can be made for a minimum of three months and is not to exceed 12 months. Individuals may hold the department associate title for up to one year and are eligible for extension during the annual reappointment process if the need for their contribution continues.

As stated above, the department associate appointment should be used to foster or engage useful and relevant professional capacities related to specific identified education or research needs that are otherwise unmet at the School. It may also be used to strengthen a department’s mentoring or inclusion and belonging activities or expertise. Department associates are not required to be on campus and are unpaid, so this appointment type may be used in the context of off-campus field research.

The PeopleSoft job code for the department associate appointment is 000502 in the “Other Academic” employee class.