For Current & Incoming Postdocs: Research Scholars

Research Scholars are similar to research fellows, but receive funding from different sources. You will receive the title Research Scholar if the extramural agency that’s funding your research requires you to be an employee of the institution.

Research Scholars are classified as employees by the Memorial Sloan Kettering payroll department and receive a salary. The salary may be supplemented by institutional or philanthropic support.

Appointment Term Limits

Research Scholars can be appointed for a maximum of five years. If your title changes from Research Scholar to Research Fellow before the five years are up, you are still subject to the five-year term limit. If more than five years is required to complete your training and research project, you may be appointed by your laboratory head as a Research Associate for additional years.

Appointment as a Research Associate may not exceed five years.

Research Scholars whose title changes to Research Associate may not serve for more than a total of eight years at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Compensation (Salaries/Stipends) and Taxation

Research Scholars are paid a salary. The minimum salary you will be paid is determined by the number of years of relevant research experience you have had since you completed your doctorate.

The salary for each year of experience is the minimum entry amount recommended. They are listed below:

Years of Research Experience
Since Doctorate
Recommended Salary Level
0 $42,000
1 $44,100
2 $46,200
3 $48,300
4 $50,400
5 $52,500

Annual stipend increases are based on merit and are made at the discretion of your Lab Head.

The recommended minimum salary levels are the same as the stipends listed for Research Fellows. However, an amount is added to the Research Scholar's salary to cover the FICA tax that will be withheld (FICA taxes go toward Social Security and Medicare). The current amount added to the salary is approximately 12 percent. This increase does not apply to employees who are FICA exempt because they are in the first two calendar years of J-1 visa status.

All applicable taxes will be withheld, including, city, state, and federal taxes, and FICA/Medicare payments. You will receive a W-2 form (which is used to report annual income and calculate taxes) every year that you work for us.

If you have specific questions about the changes in your salary/stipend and taxation rates because your trainee status changes, we recommend that you consult the payroll department.


Research Scholars are eligible for a limited benefits package that includes:

  • Medical and dental coverage for the postdoctoral researcher and eligible dependents
  • Time off, parental leave, and other related benefits
  • Discounted rates at our childcare facility on Roosevelt Island
  • Retirement Savings Plan: A defined contribution program that offers a variety of investment funds managed by TIAA-CREF. Research Scholars can set aside a portion of their earnings on a tax-deferred and/or on a Roth after-tax basis to supplement their retirement income.
  • Commuter Spending Account Program: Research Scholars can contribute pre-tax dollars to the program to pay for eligible transportation expenses related to their commute to and from work.

For more information about doctors covered by available plans, visit the Find a Physician or Dentist page on our intranet.

Note: The listing above provides a brief summary of benefits and programs offered by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It is not intended as a complete description of each plan or program. Although every effort has been made to ensure the above information is accurate, the legal documents that describe the plans and programs will govern in the case of any discrepancy. The plans, programs, eligibility, and corresponding employee contributions are subject to review and may be modified at any time.

Vacation and Sick Time

Research Scholars do not accrue vacation or sick time. Time-off, including sick time and vacation time, should be reviewed and discussed by the Research Scholars and the Lab Head. The Lab Head will usually permit a range of two to four weeks of paid vacation leave a year.

If you need to apply for an extended leave of absence due to extenuating circumstances, you should discuss this with your Lab Head. Such leaves must be in accordance with the policies of the institution and of the agencies that issue your funding grants. They also require approval from the SKI Director.

Parental Leave

Lab Heads are expected to allow Research Scholars to take up to eight weeks of paid time-off for parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. This parental leave will run concurrently with the leave taken under the Family Medical leave Act (FMLA), which grants up to 12 weeks of leave within a 12-month period due to certain medical and family circumstances.

Changing Title, Stipend, and Salary

Your title may be changed from Research Scholar to Research Fellow if there is a change in your source of funding: for example, if it changes from full or partial support by a grant, contract, or career development award to an extramural fellowship (awarded as a stipend) or full institutional and/or philanthropic support.

Your title will change from Research Scholar to Research Associate if you have exceeded the five-year limit as a Research Fellow and/or Research Scholar.

Your Lab Head will discuss changes in your title and salary with the Research Fund Manager (RFM) in the Office of Research and Project Administration, who will complete the required paperwork. The RFM should be notified one month in advance of the change required.