For Current & Incoming Postdocs: Research Fellows

Research Fellows are researchers who have received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and are engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue their scientific careers.

People in this category are supported by extramural fellowships, institutional training grants, or institutional and/or philanthropic funds that provide stipends for postdoctoral training.

There are two types of research fellows — regular research fellows and non-stipend research fellows. The salary for both of these appointments are the same. Your appointment status is determined by how you receive the funding for your research.

Research Fellow

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

  • Medical and dental coverage for the researcher and eligible dependents
  • Time off, parental leave, and other related benefits
  • Discounted rates at our childcare facility on Roosevelt Island

Lab Heads need to contact Human Resources regarding health and dental coverage for Non-Stipend Research Fellows.

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.

Non-Stipend Research Fellow

Appointment as a non-stipend research fellow is made when all of the following apply:

  • The fellow is fully funded by an extramural agency
  • The stipend is at or above the recommended level
  • The stipend is paid directly to the fellow rather than through the Sloan Kettering Institute

Appointment Term Limits

Research Fellows can be appointed for a maximum of five years. If your title changes from Research Fellow to Research Scholar 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 Fellows 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

As a Research Fellow, you may receive compensation from an extramural fellowship stipend that is paid directly to you (although it is routed through the Sloan Kettering Institute). If your full compensation is derived from internal sources, you may receive your stipend from institutional and/or philanthropic funds.

The minimum stipend you will be paid is determined by the number of years of relevant research experience you have had since you completed your doctorate. Lab Heads may consider awarding a higher stipend to Research Fellows to acknowledge their success in obtaining a fellowship award and because they are not eligible to receive some of the benefits available to Research Scholars

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

Years of Research Experience
Since Doctorate
Recommended Stipend Level
0 $43,680
1 $45,864
2 $48,048
3 $50,232
4 $52,416
5 $54,600

Note: New stipend levels will become effective on July 13, 2014, and will be implemented for each individual postdoc at the time of his/her reappointment. Please note that the plan is to bring postdocs to the new minimum for their next level of year of experience, or to provide postdocs with a three percent increase, whichever is greater, as some postdocs currently earn more than the minimum. At the time of reappointment, postdoctoral researchers must be paid at least at the minimum for the next level of experience.

At the time of reappointment, stipend/salary increases must be paid at least at the minimum of the next level of year of experience. Increases are not at the discretion of the principal investigator.

Research Fellows do not pay FICA taxes (taxes that go toward Social Security and Medicare). For those who receive their checks from Memorial Sloan Kettering, other applicable payroll taxes are withheld. If you receive your check from us, you will receive a W-2 form (which is used to report annual income and calculate taxes) every year that you work here. This applies to all fellows regardless of the extramural source of their fellowship and also could apply to institutional stipend supplements.

Some international Research Fellows may be eligible for exemption from federal, state, and local tax withholding because they are covered by a tax treaty with their country of residency. These tax implications are taken into consideration when setting stipend/salary levels. Stipend levels are adjusted so they are never less than $42,000 per year.

If your title changes from Research Fellow to Research Scholar or if you are advanced to the Research Associate rank, your compensation will be increased by approximately 12 percent to compensate for FICA taxes (in cases where FICA tax payment is required).

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.

Benefits

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

  • Medical coverage for the researcher and eligible dependents
  • Dental coverage for the researcher and eligible dependents
  • Time-off, parental leave, and other related benefits
  • Discounted rates at our childcare facility on Roosevelt Island

Lab Heads need to contact Human Resources regarding health and dental coverage for Non-Stipend Research Fellows.

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 Fellows do not accrue vacation or sick time. Time-off, including sick time and vacation time, should be reviewed and discussed by the Research Fellow 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 Fellows to take up to eight weeks of paid time off for parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child. If you wish 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.

Changing Title, Stipend, and Salary

Changes will be required in the following circumstances:

  • Your title may be changed from Research Fellow to Research Scholar if there is a change in your source of funding: for example, if it changes from an extramural fellowship (awarded as a stipend) or full institutional and/or philanthropic support to full or partial support by a grant, contract, or career development award.
  • Your title will change from Research Fellow to Research Associate if you have exceeded the five-year limit as a Research Fellow. However, if you are still funded by a fellowship (awarded as a stipend), an exception may be made.
  • Your Lab Head will discuss changes in your title and stipend/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.