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Application Guidelines


Goal: The primary goal of the postdoctoral program is to attract outstanding postdoctoral fellows to USC, and to prepare them for successful academic careers by providing them excellent opportunities and mentoring.

Eligibility: Fellowships will be given under the condition that the total salary paid to the fellow will be at least $40,000 and that initial support funds for the fellow are already committed by the advisor for a period of two years. The Student Health Insurance and the Student Health Center fees will be paid by the advisor. Each year, up to two postdoctoral fellowships may be awarded in the Viterbi School of Engineering and two in the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. To address the opportunistic nature of postdoctoral appointments, there are two deadlines for submission each year. In exceptional cases, requests for funds to cover a full stipend for a postdoctoral fellowship will be considered; these requests will be subject to the availability of WiSE funds and a strong endorsement from the relevant Dean.

Additional Information: Note that a mentor must be a tenure-track or tenured professor. The sponsoring professor will serve as the official mentor of the postdoctoral fellow. Three additional letters of support (two of which must be from outside of USC) must be submitted as supporting materials in addition to the statement of faculty sponsorship. Application documents must be submitted by the mentor to the Department Chair for approval. A signed memo or an email message from the Department Chair explicitly stating approval of the application must be sent to the WiSE program at by the stated deadline in order for the application to be considered.

Application Process: Applications materials should be assembled by the faculty mentor in digital form and submitted electronically to the WiSE Program office at All documents should be in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format. A complete application should include:

  • The candidate’s up-to-date curriculum vitae
  • The candidate’s statement of research plan during the proposed research period
  • A statement of faculty sponsorship of the candidate from the proposed mentor that must contain a mentoring plan for the candidate and an explicit guarantee of funds already secured to meet the minimum salary, if the fellowship is awarded.
  • Supporting materials that must include: a maximum of six (6)reprints by the candidate and three (3) additional letters of reference (at least two of which should be from outside USC). Other supporting materials are optional.
  • A signed memo or e-mail statement from the candidate’s proposed Department Chair sent to the WiSE Program Office at explicitly stating approval of the application
  • A statement of WiSE Justification that explains how support of the candidate will further the goals of the WiSE Program and serve to increase the representation of women in science and engineering.


Selection Process and Criteria: Applications will be reviewed by the WiSE Committee for either the Viterbi School of Engineering or USC Dornsife, composed of faculty. The Committee will rank order all candidates and request approval for funding from the Provost. Decisions will be announced within a month of submission. The criteria used to select the postdoctoral fellows are:

  • The potential for the candidate to go on to a successful academic career
  • The documented track-record of the mentor in successfully preparing students for an academic career
  • The presentation of strong evidence that working with the mentor will enhance the future career of the candidate. (Preference will be given to postdoctoral candidate who would come to USC from a different institution.)
  • The demonstrated justification for how the fellowship will serve to increase the representation of women in science and engineering.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What are the required page lengths for each of the different materials?

A: Two to three pages, plus references and figures if necessary. The Curriculum Vitae should be a complete C.V. regardless of length.

Q: What should be included among the supporting materials?

A: Reprints by the candidate (please keep these to a maximum of six) should be included in this section. Three additional letters of reference must be submitted (two of which must be from faculty external to USC) as well as any evidence of success on the mentor’s part of placing students into academic appointments.

Q: What is meant by a “statement of faculty sponsorship”?

A: This is a standard letter of support from the proposed mentor, stating the faculty member’s eagerness to have the candidate work within their lab and committing funds for their support for a period of two years.

Q: What is meant by a “research plan”?

A: The candidate’s research plan is an overall plan of action during the proposed fellowship period.