There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S., beyond data on institutional salary policies gathered by the National Postdoctoral Association. Following on from recent discussions about postdoc salaries changing as a result of proposed updates to U.S. Federal labor law, we have gathered data from a selection of institutions through Freedom of Information Requests, asking only for titles and salaries of postdocs, to see if we can identify actual postdoctoral salaries. The aggregate data, and more information, can be found at out “Investigating Postdoc Salaries” Resource. Here we release the belated but final dataset: University of Wisconsin Madison.


Cost for FOIA Request: $0

Additional notes: Includes names and departments.


The sharp-eyed amongst you have noticed that one institution has been missing from our dataset of postdoc salaries at public institutions with more than 300 postdocs – the University of Wisconsin Madison. While data was originally released, there was confusion over what exactly was being requested – more precisely, the eternal issue with identifying postdocs – but thanks to the physical presence of our board member Dr. Carrie Niziolek at UW Madison, we were able to resolve the issue and have now received 2016 data.


We received data for 760 postdocs, and UW Madison reported 765 postdocs to the NSF in 2015, giving us high confidence that we have all the data requested. The salary for postdocs is set at $47,476 – this policy was set around the time of Dec 1st 2016, which the data we requested are from.


Postdocs are on three titles at UW Madison – Postdoctoral Fellow, Postdoctoral Trainee and Research Associate. The titles are described in more detail here as:

  • “Research Associates are usually funded from a principal investigator’s grant funds or other sources.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows are usually funded from a postdoctoral fellowship which is an award, made by an outside organization or agency, to the individual in question.
  • Postdoctoral Trainees are usually funded from a postdoctoral traineeship which is an award, made by an outside organization or agency, to the institution for the purpose of postdoctoral training.”


Essentially, Research Associates are funded from Research Project Grants; Fellows are on independent fellowships such as NIH F32s; Trainees are on training program mechanisms such as NIH T32s. In our data from Dec 1st 2016:

There are 68 Fellows, on an average salary of $52,229 (salaries range from $38,119 to $84,000; 11 salaries were below $47,476).

There are 78 Trainees, on an average salary of $49,525 (salaries range from $43,692 to $58,560; 1 salary was below $47,476).

There are 614 Research Fellows, on an average salary of $49,640 (salaries range from to $37,000 to $81,000; 15 salaries were below $47,476).


The range in salaries for Fellows is not unsurprising as postdocs may be on a range of fellowships, including non-federal sources which may have more (or less, depending on country of origin) generous stipends.

Likewise, for the Trainees, the range is not surprising – this is much more likely to adhere closely to the NIH NRSA levels and be dominated (possibly entirely) by those on T32 programs.

There are relatively few salaries below $47,476, most likely because of the close relationship of the date with the date of salary implementation. UW Madison was outspoken in its determination to keep salary raises, to remain competitive in attracting postdocs. The median salary is $47,844, the 11th highest in our dataset.


We are currently revising our salary preprint for publication and will aim to include this data within the final publication.