Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Postdoc Academy?

The Postdoc Academy is a flexible professional development program, built specifically for postdocs. This new program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is a collaboration between Boston University, Northwestern University, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Read more about our team.

What programming does the Postdoc Academy provide?

The Postdoc Academy is offers two online courses with supplemental in-person or virtual learning communities. The first online course, Succeeding as a Postdoc, launched in January 2020. This course supports skills that are critical for postdocs of all stages and disciplines.

The second course, Building Skills for a Successful Career, launched in July 2021. This advanced course focuses on building skills that are important for your next career step – whatever that might be.

How much time commitment is the online course?

The first online course lasts 6 weeks, and the second course lasts 7 weeks. Each week has approximately 2-4 hours of activities, videos, and discussion forums. You are able to complete the course at any time while it’s running!

What topics will be covered in the online course?

The first course will help you develop strategies to:

  1. find success as a postdoc
  2. draft an actionable career plan
  3. work effectively in an intercultural environment
  4. develop resilience

The second course will help you build advanced skills including:

  1. leadership
  2. building and supervising a team
  3. project management
  4. applying teaching skills beyond the classroom
  5. strategic communications
  6. job application materials.

How much does it cost to take the online course?

All of the Postdoc Academy programming is available for free! There is an option to purchase a Verified Certificate from edX, but the content of the online course is the same either way.

What’s the difference between the free and Verified track on edX?

First and foremost, the content in the course is identical – whether you are in the free track or the Verified track.

If you complete the course in the Verified track, you will receive a Verified Certificate from edX. If you complete the course in the free track, you’ll receive a Certificate of Completion from the Postdoc Academy directly.

All learners can access their course materials indefinitely!

Help! I see an error message on the edX course.

If you are accessing the course on the Safari browser, you might see an error message saying "authentication failed - please report this issue to your administrator". Please try:

  1. Access the course using a different browser, such as Google Chrome
  2. Enable third-party cookies on your browser

For all other technical questions, please email postdocacademy@gmail.com.

When can I register to take a course?

Each course is offered once or twice annually, depending on the calendar year. Registration is normally available 6-8 weeks before a course launch.

Is taking the first course a prerequisite to taking the second course?

No – you don’t have to take the first course prior to the second one. While we encourage you to take both courses, the content is separate and focuses on different stages in your professional life.

How can I download the Postdoc Academy content?

Check out the “Courses” tab on this website! All of the content is released under a Creative Commons license, so you are welcome to adopt and adapt the materials to fits the needs of your specific group.

I’m interested in meeting other postdocs. How can we use the Postdoc Academy to do that at my institution or in my discipline?

The Postdoc Academy supports learning communities, called Postdoc Academy Learning Sessions (PALS). These are small groups of postdocs who meet weekly while the course is running. You can dive into the online content deeper and connect with other postdocs. Each PALS is run by a facilitator – a postdoc, faculty member, staff – anyone who supports postdocs.

You can start a PALS at your institution or in your discipline using this form.

I’m looking to join a PALS, but I don’t know how to find one in my discipline or at my institution.

You can fill out this page or check the discussion forums in the online course. There could be one!

If there isn’t one that fits your interest, you have a few options. You can write-in your preference in the online form (we will do our best to match you) or start a PALS of your own!

If I facilitate a PALS, what support can I expect?

By joining our Community of Facilitators, you can: 

  • Receive our detailed Facilitator Guide and marketing materials
  • Learn from other facilitators and network with other practitioners 
  • Access online facilitation trainings, held quarterly 
  • Attend in-person facilitation trainings, held yearly at the National Postdoc Association Annual Conference
  • Access evaluation tools, including pre-session and post-session surveys 
  • Stay up-to-date with upcoming online and in-person events 

Interested? Sign-up today.

In-person training? Tell me more.

We have partnered with the National Postdoc Association to hold a Facilitator Training as part of the NPA Annual Conference. This immersive workshop will provide hands-on facilitator training, professional development resources, and introduce you to the community of PALS facilitators. Training is open to everyone, designed specifically for those interested in adapting our content to local programming, and accessible to newer facilitators. We will expand on traditional programs by working through inclusive facilitation strategies and assisting participants to develop strategies for capacity building within their own institution. We focus on developing and practicing facilitator skills, as well as creating a community of practitioners, in addition to disseminating our materials and content. 

I heard the Postdoc Academy team will facilitate workshops for postdocs at my institution. How do I find out more information?

The Postdoc Academy will virtually travel to your institution to facilitate workshops. If you’re interested, please e-mail postdocacademy@gmail.com.

How do I stay up-to-date with future announcements and opportunities?

Fill out our contact form to be added to our mailing list to receive monthly updates from the Postdoc Academy.

I still have a question. Who can I contact?

You can always reach us at postdocacademy@gmail.com.