Application Guidelines

Application Guidelines

Eligibility: To be eligible for the program, candidates must have received their doctoral degrees (Ph.D., M.D. or J.D.) within five years prior to the start of the appointment. All doctoral requirements must be fulfilled and the degree awarded before the start of the appointment. People holding current positions with rank above post-doctoral scientist are not eligible for appointment under university rules. Those holding current post-doc positions should contact our office to determine eligibility. The program is open to U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Columbia University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Deadline: October 28, 2020 by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

To apply to the program candidates must submit the following documents:

  • Online Application
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Brief Personal History
  • Research Proposal
  • 3 Recommendation Letters

In addition to submitting the application and proposal, applicants are encouraged, but not required, to contact their desired multidisciplinary mentoring team, i.e. two or more senior faculty members or research scientists/scholars at Columbia University with whom they would like to work during their appointment. Please note that an endorsement from a faculty member or researcher does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

Brief Personal History Format
Two (2) page maximum, double-spaced; one-inch margins, minimum 11 point standard font. The personal statement should include the following elements based on their relevance to your situation

  • Brief personal introduction and research statement
  • Summary of any discussions you have had with potential mentors. Note: endorsement from a faculty member or researcher does not guarantee acceptance into the program.
  • Explanation of gaps in employment or studies (these will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
  • Prior postdoctoral positions - Columbia University policy only allows a cumulative maximum of 3 years in a postdoctoral position, whether held at or outside of the university. If you have prior postdoc experience, please contact Samantha Ostrowski to discuss your application.

Recommendation Letters
Three (3) recommendation letters are required by November 8, 2020, 5 p.m. EST. Once an application is successfully submitted, the references listed will receive an email with the Applicant ID and the link to upload their letter.

Note: We strongly recommend informing your references of the request for a letter in advance of submitting your application. We also recommend following up with your references after you have applied to ensure that they have received the information to upload their letter. 

Research Proposal Format
Five (5) page maximum; double-spaced; one-inch margins; minimum 11 point standard font.
Bibliographic references are required but not counted toward the 5-page maximum. They should be included in the same document.

The research proposal should address how the proposed work will contribute to the goal of global sustainable development. Proposals may suggest participating in, contributing to, or extending existing multidisciplinary Earth Institute projects. Candidates are also encouraged to develop new, innovative projects that connect Earth Institute expertise.

Research Foci and Mentors: Research foci are determined by the postdocs themselves. Thus, EI Postdocs play an active, independent role in developing their own areas of expertise and research agendas. Candidates are encouraged to review the list of the Earth Institute's research units and relevant Columbia University and Barnard College departments to see the breadth of potential mentors and collaborators actively engaged in research at the university.

Selection Procedure: Applications are reviewed by the Earth Institute Postdoctoral Selection Committee, which is composed of senior Earth Institute faculty from across the Institute. Care is taken to ensure that all of the Earth Institute's core disciplines are represented in the Committee.

An initial, rigorous review of the applications examines several factors, including the following: educational and professional merit; relevance and strength of the research proposal; quality of the recommendations; relevance of the proposed research to the core interest of the Earth Institute to seek solutions to obstacles to sustainable development; and current needs and priorities of the Earth Institute.

Applications that merit further consideration are moved forward to the directors of one or more relevant Earth Institute research units. Based on feedback received from the research units, the Selection Committee reevaluates the applications in great detail before reaching a final decision.

Decisions: Appointments will be announced in late February, 2021.