Before You Get to USC

Important information you need to know before you get started:

Get to know the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs 

The USC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs is the central resource on campus serving as a liaison between the Office of the Provost, Postdoctoral Scholars, Faculty, and Staff to disseminate university initiatives and policies. It works closely with academic units to help recruit a diverse cadre of the best junior scholars to the university and facilitate the training and preparation of postdoctoral scholars for careers as independent researchers, academics, and leaders of their chosen fields.

If you would like to meet with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, send us an email at The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will help you understand the research, teaching and resource landscape and introduce you to career development tools. Our meetings are tailored to you. We meet with all incoming postdocs one-on-one.

What to Expect and FAQ:

As a postdoctoral scholar, you will be appointed in one of USC’s many schools or academic units. During the appointment process, you will liaise with your home department (Business unit or Local HR Representative) during the hiring process. Please direct questions about your hiring and university account setup to your local business unit, HR rep, or ITS Services. (list of school’s HR Representatives)

Information about your appointment letter: Your appointment letter will be sent to you by your new department’s or school’s appointed representative or by your faculty supervisor.  Review your appointment letter carefully. It should contain information about your:

  • Postdoc title code
  • salary
  • official start and end date of your appointment
  • links directing you to benefits enrollment and web registration

Information about your 10-digit ID and USC NetID: During the hiring process, you will be assigned a 10-digit ID number. You will receive this from your school or department.

What is your Postdoctoral Title Code? You will fall under one of the 4 categories below. You can find this information on your appointment letter:

  • Postdoctoral Scholars – Research Associates 
  • Postdoctoral Scholars – Teaching Fellows 
  • Postdoctoral Scholars – Fellowship Trainees
  • Postdoctoral Scholars – Visiting Fellows

Are postdocs students or staff at USC?  Most postdocs will hold dual status as both University staff and limited status students at USC. However, if you are on a Fellowship (e.g. NIH T32, NSF Fellow, etc.) or funded directly through an external foundation, then you will hold limited student status only.

What is limited student status? Limited student status confers a suite of various perks normally reserved for students (e.g. loan deferment, free gym access, etc.). To activate the student status, postdocs need to enroll in a course called Postdoc Fellowship-999 (PDF-999). Enrollment in PDF999 will maintain your full time postdoctoral training program status. Because of this enrollment, postdocs may be listed as a “student” in some USC systems. 

How do Benefits work for postdocs at USC? When it comes to benefits, postdocs at USC have their own suite of health benefits and perks that are unique to postdocs. Two important things to note: 

  1. All postdocs, regardless of status and title code, will receive the same (or very similar) benefits and perks at USC
  2. Postdoc benefits are administered through and overseen by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.  Please visit the OPA’s Benefits site for information relevant to postdocs

Our health benefits website provides all the information on plans available to postdocs for you to review. You may also complete your benefits enrollment after you start, but within 31 days of your appointment start date. For all enrollees, postdoc benefits will begin on the start date of the appointment.

Questions about visas? Please contact Office of International Services or faculty/staff visa services.

Search for Housing: While USC does not offer housing for postdoctoral scholars, Los Angeles and its surrounding cities offer good options for living. The USC Postdoctoral Association (PDA) Handbook provides plenty of information and suggestions for places in and around Los Angeles.

Download the USC PDA handbook.

USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) patrol zones.

Updated LA Metro Light rail and bus system map

Know your department: Although it’s important to familiarize yourself with the university at large, you’ll want to learn more about the department where you’ll be working, too. Visit the USC home page and locate your department’s website through the search box in the top right corner of the page.

Continue to Onboarding for Postdoc: Research Associates and Teaching Fellows

Continue to Onboarding for Postdoc: Fellowship Trainees and Visiting Fellows

Some fun USC Trojan History