FAQ's: Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity

Frequently Asked Questions:

University of Pennsylvania - Provost's Postdoctoral Fellowship program 
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity

These two programs formerly known as the Postdoctoral Fellows for Academic Diversity, seek to attract promising researchers and educators from different backgrounds, races, ethnic groups, and other diverse populations whose life experience, research experience and employment background will contribute significantly to their academic missions.


Q: Who is eligible to apply to the program?
A: The Program is open to all persons who meet the eligibility criteria without regard to race, gender, or ethnicity.

Q: Can I still be considered if I do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency?
A: Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

Q: Can I apply if I have a JD, MD, PsyD, or VMD, instead of a PhD?
A:  Professional applicants (MD., DMD, VMD JD etc.) within a year of completing their post-degree professional training are eligible to apply.

Q. Am I eligible if I am doing my doctoral program at Penn?
A. Yes Penn doctoral students are eligible to apply.

Q. Can I apply if I have a Master’s Degree?
A. No. Applicants must have a terminal degree.

Q. Am I eligible to apply if I already started a postdoctoral fellowship at Penn or CHOP?
A. One of the program goals is to recruit new postdoctoral fellows to the institutions. In some rare instances we will consider applicants who already started a fellowship. Please contact vpr-pdfellow@pobox.upenn.edu to determine if you might be eligible for this exception. If you are applying to the CHOP program, please contact POSTDOCINFO@email.chop.edu.

Q: I received my Ph.D. over five years ago. Am I still eligible for to apply for this fellowship?
A: No. Eligibility is limited to individuals who completed their terminal or professional degree within the last two years.

Q: Am I eligible if I started a postdoc at another institution?
A: Yes. You are eligible if you completed your graduate or professional program within the last two years and started a fellowship at another institution.

Q. Am I eligible if I am already in a faculty rank track?
A.  No. Applicants who have already been appointed as an Assistant Professor at another institution are ineligible.

Q: I will finish my doctorate next year. Am I still eligible to apply this fall?
A: Candidates are required to complete their doctoral requirements by the start date of the fellowship and will be required to provide proof of completion before they can begin.


Q: What is the application deadline?
A: The application is made available annually in late August or early September. The application deadline is early November each year (exact dates may vary). The deadline for references and mentors to submit their letters is the same as the application deadline.

Q: When are the final decisions announced?
A: Final decisions are announced by March.

Q: Am I required to identify a mentor on my application?
A: Applicants are required to identify a faculty mentor. 

Q:  Are mentors required to submit a letter of support?
A:  Applicants are required to contact a potential mentor and ask them to submit a letter stating that they will serve as a mentor and provide information about the mentoring plan. Mentors should familiarize themselves with their responsibilities.

Q. How do I find a faculty mentor?
A: Applicants are encouraged to research the Penn and CHOP websites, review scholarly publications, reach out and communicate with specific faculty members with compatible research interests who will be interested in serving as mentors. If possible, meet with the proposed mentor and discuss a mentorship plan.

Q: What should be included in the mentorship plan?
A: The mentorship plan should include: Expectations for scholarly work to be completed, opportunities for professional development and a timeline for implementation of the Fellow's proposed goals or plan.

Q: What should I include in my personal statement?
A: All of the following items should be specifically addressed in your personal statement: a review of your previous research accomplishments; an outline of your proposed research and your future research goals; a description of your commitment to pursuing an academic career; a description of your academic, employment or other life experiences that would bring new perspectives to the University community and your chosen field.

Q: What is the length of the personal statement?
A:  The personal statement should be no longer than 3 pages. If references are included, they are not part of the three pages.

Q: What does the selection committee focus on when reviewing applications?
Faculty reviewers evaluate applicants in all fields according to their research accomplishments, research goals, with special consideration given to strength of research statement, publications, accomplishments, personal goals, and letters of recommendation.


Q: How many Fellowships are awarded annually?
A: Penn and CHOP review the applications separately and make decisions independently. At Penn, the number of Fellowships varies from year to year but generally there are from seven to ten. CHOP awards 4 fellowships.

Q: If I already live in the Philadelphia region, am I eligible for the relocation funds?
A: No. The relocation funds are for candidates who have been awarded a fellowship and are moving to the Philadelphia area from another part of the country. If the candidate already lives in the Philadelphia area, they are not eligible for the relocation expense.

Q: Can I apply to both the CHOP and Penn program?
A: If you are identifying 2 separate mentors, one from CHOP and one from Penn, you will need to submit 2 separate applications. The applications are reviewed separately at each of the two institutions.

Q: How does the fellow get started on his/her research?
A: One of the first things Fellows should do is complete an Individual Development Plan in consultation with the faculty mentor.

Q: How do I access research funds?
A: Faculty mentors should advise the Fellows who will be responsible in the home department for administering the research funds. All research fund accounts are distributed in accordance with University and department policies.

Q: What can the research funds be used for?
A: Research funds may be used to purchase books, supplies, and any other materials needed for scholarly work. Applicants are advised to check with their department administrator.

 Is there a residency requirement?
A: The fellowship requires that you live within the Philadelphia area  unless the research program is of a global nature.

Q: How do I request relocation reimbursement?
Fellows should submit a request for relocation reimbursement from the department administrator. Receipts are required. Reimbursement cannot be made without receipts. Relocation must be completed during the first year of the fellowship.

Q: Is the host department required to provide me with a private office?
A: Host departments make every effort to find appropriate space during the fellowship appointment. Office space depends on availability in the host department.

Q: What other resources are available to support me in my fellowship?
A: The fellowship provides access to the resources available in the home department. Fellows will also be connected to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and other fellows in the program. Programing will be offered during the academic year.

Q. What benefits are provided to postdocs?
A: Postdocs should review Policy for Postdoctoral Trainees at the University of Pennsylvania which lists postdoc benefits https://almanac.upenn.edu/archive/volumes/v57/n01/postdocpolicy.html.

Application Process:

Q: Will I be able to keep a copy of my application?
A: Yes. After completing the application, you will be able to download in a single file your uploaded application.

Q: How will my reference letter writers and potential mentor be contacted with instructions about submitting letters on my behalf?
A: Prior to beginning your application, you should alert your 3 references (including thesis advisor) and Penn/CHOP mentor that they will receive an email request for their reference and/or mentor letters.  Please inform them that the emails will come from: vprgrant@research.upenn.edu and the subject line will be “Your Name Fellowship Support for Penn/CHOP.” Reference letter writers and mentors will receive an email with instructions on how to submit their respective letters.

Q: Will I be able to see the letters of reference and mentorship letters that are submitted in support of my application.
A: You will not be able to review the reference or mentor letters.

Q: Am I required to include anything in the field asking if I would like to add a note to the reference letter and mentor letter writers?
A: This field is optional. You can add a personal note to each person submitting a letter in support of your application. It will be included in the email that will be generated by the application system.

Q: Will I receive notification when my reference and mentor letters have been submitted?
A: You will receive email notification when each of your reference/mentor letters has been submitted. Please note that your email notification will come from vprgrant@research.upenn.edu.

Q: Will I receive email notification that my application is complete?
A: Your application will be considered complete after the reference letters and mentor letters are received.

Q: How can I monitor the status of my application?
A: You can log in at any time and see whether your references and mentors have submitted the required documents.

Q: I have an account with Interfolio. Can I have Interfolio submit my letters of reference? 
A:It is preferred that letters of reference are uploaded directly to our application system. However, in some situations, we will accept letters from Interfolio. Please contact vpr-pdfellow@pobox.upenn.edu to make special requests in these situations.