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ColumnsPostdocs play important role in US higher education system

Postdocs play important role in US higher education system

Published: 28th Nov 2021 12:13 am | Updated: 27th Nov 2021 11:32 pm

By Monika Setia

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We continue today with our special topic series on US higher education with a discussion about postdoctoral studies. Postdoctoral programmes are primarily research-based opportunities that are pursued after the completion of a doctoral/PhD programme.

Postdoctoral programmes, in short also referred to as postdoc, are designed to give further research exposure to scholars who have completed their doctoral studies. Since US universities give high emphasis to research, postdocs play an important role in the US higher education system. Generally employed within a department, lab, or research center of a US university, postdoctoral fellows contribute to ongoing research. These scholars may also have the opportunity to pursue their own research. In either case, postdoctoral fellows produce research articles and manuscripts, write grant proposals with other researchers, and present research at conferences, besides contributing to other processes within the unit.

Postdoctoral fellows usually have access to all or some university resources, including libraries, computing labs, research equipment, archives, and other research resources available on campus. They may also attend research workshops, discussion groups, trainings, or other related activities on the university campus. Postdoctoral scholars also get ample opportunities to interact and work with students and faculty within the department where they are employed. International scholars may apply for postdoctoral opportunities available on U.S. campuses by either applying to an open postdoc position or by connecting with the relevant faculty/lab where they are interested in pursuing their research. The positions are generally advertised directly by the department, research center, or lab on the university website, a job portal, or in a conference proceeding. Many top-tier universities in the United States have their own postdoctoral programs with individualized applications and interview processes. Postdoc positions may also be a part of an established exchange program. For a list of U.S. government sponsored exchange programs, interested candidates may visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Exchange website (http://exchanges.state.gov/). Another way of finding such visiting research positions is by networking with US-based researchers who have published or presented at a conference in your field.

Most postdoctoral fellows are funded by the university, department, or lab where they have applied for the position. Funding for the position generally comes from the research project to which the scholar will be contributing as part of his/her work. In some cases, where the programs are supported by the established exchange program, the scholar may be funded through the funding body or scholar’s home institution supporting the exchange program. The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) also offers the Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowship award for distinguished scholars and fellows. Interested candidates may visit the link below to find more details about the program https://www.usief.org.in/Fellowships/Fulbright-Nehru-Postdoctoral-Research-Fellowship.aspx.

Postdoctoral fellowships offer a huge value-addition to researchers looking for research experience at U.S. universities to build strong research profiles.

Monika Setia is the Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad.

Please visit https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/educationusa-usief-hyderabad for more information

Q1. I am applying to US universities for my master’s degree. How should I check if an institution is accredited? – K Sunil

Accreditation is a process that validates the integrity of an educational institution. For the student, it is an indication that the institution or program meets certain standards of excellence. If the institute you attend is not accredited, your degree may not be recognized by employers, other universities, governments of other countries, or your home country’s department of education.

You may find out if a course or university is accredited by visiting the database of accredited programs and institutions published by the U.S. Department of Education at https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home or Department of Homeland Security at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search. However, you should evaluate all aspects of a school’s offerings before making a decision to enroll.

Q2. My daughter will be applying for her bachelor’s degree in the United States. Can you please explain what the ACT is? – Arjun Kumar

The application process for undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) programs in the U.S. require one or more standardized test scores. The test scores along with high school GPA and other factors are considered during the admissions process, as well as in decisions with respect to scholarships. The SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, the ACT, and AP exams are the test options for undergraduate applicants.

The ACT measures the college readiness of students through English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning sections, with an optional writing test. The test includes multiple choice questions, with a total score ranging from a minimum score of 1 to a maximum score of 36. The total duration of the test is around 3 hours and 30 minutes. The ACT is offered six times a year – February, April, June, July, September, October, and December.

The types of test accepted by universities vary, so it is important for students and parents to make sure to check the admissions page of the selected universities before registering for the test.

For further information about the ACT, please visit the following website: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act-non-us/registration.html

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