The CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship is intended for recent Ph.D. recipients who do not already have extensive postdoctoral experience. The Fellowship supports innovative astrophysics research by offering to the next generation of researchers full access to the unique facilities, research staff and resources of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA). Past CfA Postdoctoral Fellows have gone on to faculty and research positions at major universities and research centers, and have received some of astrophysics' most important awards. Two former CfA Fellows are Nobel laureates.
Successful candidates will be outstanding researchers with demonstrated promise in theory, observation, instrumentation and/or laboratory or experimental astrophysics. The CfA will award at least one CfA Fellowship and may award additional Fellowships depending on the strengths of the applicant pool. Only applicants who receive their degrees between January 1, 2023 and September 1, 2024 will be considered.
Appointments last for 3 years, with renewal for a fourth year likely, contingent upon satisfactory progress. The stipend for 2023-2024 will be approximately $75,000 with a research budget of $16,000. Funds are also provided for health benefits and relocation expenses. Applicants must have at least one first-author refereed journal paper (submitted papers are acceptable) at the time of application. Only applicants who receive their Ph.D. between January 1, 2023 and September 1, 2024, will be considered for a CfA Fellowship.
Requirements: The CfA Postdoctoral Program Awards is designed for candidates whose interests and proposed research programs fall under an active field of research at the CfA. Candidates are encouraged to study the overview of the CfA in consideration of this requirement, with more information found under "Apply." Applicants are expected to pursue research programs of their own conception and design, and they should state clearly why they believe that their professional goals would be furthered through research opportunities at the CfA. Applicants are expected to demonstrate their capability for original research through first-author refereed publications in major astronomy journals.
Academic Background: The Fellowship Committee recognizes an obligation to make awards to those who have not already had the opportunity for extensive postdoctoral research support. Applicants must have at least one first-author refereed journal paper (submitted papers are acceptable) at the time of application.
NOTE: Only applicants who receive their Ph.D. between January 1, 2022 and September 1, 2023 will be considered unless there are special circumstances such as illness or national service.
CfA Fellows have considerable research independence in an environment that thrives on the ideas and contributions of early-career scientists. The CfA Fellowship offers the following benefits and opportunities:
- Three-year appointment (with a fourth year likely, dependent on satisfactory progress)
- Stipend of $75,000, with an annual cost-of-living increase
- Research budget of $16,000 for each year
- Funding for health and dental benefits for the Fellow (and dependents if applicable)
- One-time relocation allowance
- Eligibility to propose as a Principal Investigator for external support
- Opportunity to receive advice and mentoring from CfA researchers
- Opportunity to gain direct experience in advising graduate, undergraduate students who are recruited for CfA internship and fellowship offerings tailored to their academic level
Length of the Award: The CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship is awarded for a period of three years, with renewal for a fourth-year likely, contingent upon satisfactory progress.
Start Date: July or September 2023
Deadline for Applications: October 28, 2022 at 17:00 GMT.
Online admissions materials and references are due before the deadline.
Please review the FAQ before beginning the online application.
The first time you go to the link below you will need to register for a login password. When you see the Login page, click on the "Update Account" button. This will take you to a form where you will create your account. Make sure that you remember your password so that you can return to the same application to finish your application, or to make changes.
The online application can be found at:
Application Instructions & Required Materials
Complete the following sections of the online application:
Personal Information Section
Proposed Research Section
Upload these files in PDF or Text Format:
ADS Bibliography URL
Research Proposal (up to 4 pages)
Proposals including figures and references should not exceed 4 pages. Shorter proposals are welcome and encouraged. The font type should be equivalent to Times New Roman, size 12.
Three Letters of Reference.
The steps for submitting a letter are:
The applicant supplies the name and email of each referee in the application form.
A message is emailed from SAO to each selected referee, which provides a unique URL.
The referee uses that URL to upload the letter.
Once the reference letter has been uploaded, the applicant will see "Complete" when checking the appropriate area of the application status page.
How do I apply?
Applications will be accepted online from September 1, 2023 through our website.
Can I print the application form and mail it?
If you are unable to use the online application, contact email@example.com for more information.
How do I register online?
Go to the Fellowship Application Login page. Select "Update Account" then "Register". On the Registration page, enter your full email address and a password of your choice. Repeat the password for verification and select "Register Now."
How do I create my own bibliography, a new requirement on the application page?
Simply click on the following link Creating a Bibliography and drop down to "Creating a Bibliography" where you will find step-by-step instructions.
When is the deadline?
The deadline is October 28, 2022, 17:00 GMT, for the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all materials, including letters of recommendation, are received by the deadline. Incomplete applications -- and/or applications received after October 28, 2022 -- will not be considered.
When will an offer be made for the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship?
Offers will be issued starting December 21, 2022. If you are not selected, you will be notified in early January via email.
Are there any requirements I must meet in order to apply?
In regard to academic qualifications, the CfA Fellowship accepts applications from those acquiring their Ph.D. between January 1, 2022 and September 1, 2023. Additionally, applicants are expected to pursue research programs of their own conception and design, and they should state clearly why they believe that their professional goals would be furthered through research opportunities at the CfA. Applicants are also expected to demonstrate their capability for original research through first-author refereed publications in major astronomy journals.
What type of visa will the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory issue me if I am selected for the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowships?
The CfA Fellowship is considered a non-service fellowship. It is not an employment position. Therefore, only J-1 visas are issued to international exchange scholars.
What is the length and compensation for a CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship appointment?
The CfA Fellowship is a three-year program, with renewal for a fourth year likely contingent upon satisfactory progress. In terms of compensation, the CfA offers an initial stipend rate of $75,000 per year and a research rate of $16,000.
Can I apply for the Clay Postdoctoral Fellowship Position as well the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship?
Yes. If you meet the qualifications of the Clay and CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship, you may be considered for both programs. However, the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship only accepts applications from those acquiring their Ph.D. between January 1, 2022 and September 1, 2023.
Can I use a single application to apply for the Clay and CfA Postdoctoral Fellowships?
Yes, in the online postdoctoral application form, you may select the CfA and Clay Postdoctoral Position.
How should letters of recommendation be submitted?
Letters of reference should be submitted by three "referees" familiar with your scientific abilities and must be received by the application deadline, October 28, 2022, 17:00 GMT. The name and email of each referee must be supplied in the application form. A message is emailed to each referee, which provides a unique URL. The referee uses that URL to upload the letter. Once the letter has been uploaded, the applicant will see "Complete" when checking the appropriate area of the application status page. NOTE: One letter of reference can be used for both the CfA and the Clay application. Your reviewer may make reference to both programs in the one letter they upload.
What format is required for uploading files?
Files should be in pdf format. If this is not possible, postscript or plain text is acceptable.
How do I submit my application?
Your application is considered complete when you use the "Application Complete" button. You can update information until the application deadline even after marking your application as complete.
Can I edit my application online?
Yes, you can access the application as many times as you want until the deadline. After entering the new information, click on the "Save" button. You can enter more information or edit existing information each time. You can upload new files to replace existing ones until the deadline.
If my password does not work, what should I do?
On the "Fellowship Application: Login" page select "Reset Password" and a new password will be emailed to you if you have already successfully registered.
How will I know if all my application materials have been received?
After logging in to the application, select "View Application Status" to check what remains incomplete in your application. In addition, when viewing your application online, you can check previously uploaded files by clicking on the numbered button provided.
What should I do if I notice an error in my application after I submit it?
Until the deadline, you can access the application to make corrections, including uploading new versions of the pdf files.
What if I decide to withdraw my application?
If you want to withdraw your application, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your full name and which fellowship application you wish to withdraw.
What if I have other questions?
Please send an email inquiry to us at email@example.com.
Application Questions: Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research Questions: An SAO scientist is available online to answer your inquiries related to proposed research projects as well as current CfA programs at: email@example.com.
My CfA Fellowship was pivotal for me to gain independence as a young researcher. It enabled me to help start the High-Z SN Search team, the team which discovered that the expansion rate of the Universe was accelerating. These fellowships are amongst the most prestigious in the world, and are foundational to the culture of excellence at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre of Astrophysics.- Brian Schmidt, 2011 Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics