Understanding the UMN Postdoc Job Codes: Associate vs. Fellow

There are several job codes for postdoctoral scholars at the University of Minnesota. The two largest groups are postdoctoral associates and postdoctoral fellows. There are several differences between these titles, and often a postdoctoral scholar will switch back and forth between these titles based on the source of their funding. It is important to understand these differences, especially as they relate to health insurance and paying taxes.

All postdocs, regardless of job code, can sign up to a receive an unlimited public transit pass connected to their UCard, and can sign up for campus parking as an employee.

Below is a summary of the major differences between Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows. This is a side-by-side comparison that may not display correctly on mobile devices.



Employee Status

Considered an employee of the University

Considered a "trainee" of the university - not perfectly equivalent to a student, but in many ways treated the same as students

Salary & Taxes

Salary generally covered by supervisor's grants (e.g. NIH R01 grant)

Stipend generally covered by grant awarded to the individual (e.g. NIH F32 or T32)

Federal and State income taxes can be withheld from each paycheck, W2 issued annually

Federal and state estimated taxes must be filed quarterly (taxes cannot be withheld by the University), no tax documents issued (see this page)

Insurance and Mental Health Resources

Several health insurance options - talk to Human Resources to find options

Health insurance usually through the Graduate Assistant Health  Program

The Employee Assistance Program provides up to 8 sessions of counseling and consultation services free of charge. Spouses and dependents are also eligible for EAP services. Services can also be accessed through your medical insurance.

There are no University sponsored services for fellows so all mental health services must go through your medical insurance or through community services.  For GAHP-eligible fellows, Boynton Mental Health provides services with licensed counselors and therapists (10 session per year cap). For those directly receiving stipends and using COBRA, please reference this webpage and costs.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution handled by the Office of Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution handled by the Student Conflict Resolution Center

Other Resources

Parking costs, gym membership, etc. can be automatically paid out of paychecks

No automatic payments can be made - parking costs, gym membership, etc must be paid out of pocket and there may be changes in the associated costs

Further information regarding changes in employment status, benefits, etc. from UMN Human Resources can be found here:

Associate to fellow transition - HR information - Sept 2022.docx