General Policies

Predoctoral Fellows

  • Predoctoral fellows conduct research that will become part of their PhD thesis under the guidance of an SAO scientist.
  • SAO Predoctoral Fellows have a required appointment period of at least 6 months; however, there is no cap or limit on their stay as this is generally imposed by their home university.
  • Predoctoral Fellows are required to submit a progress report and a recent publication list (if available) to the Fellowship Program Coordinator after their annual meeting.
  • Students are required to attend and participate in the monthly SAO Predoc Journal Club.


  • The primary role of an advisor is to help guide the Fellow's research toward a PhD thesis.
  • Smithsonian scientists in residence may serve as an advisor to an SAO Predoctoral Fellow.
  • Advisors are expected to appoint another scientist as a co-advisor when they are away from the CfA for an extended period of time.
  • Postdoctoral fellows may be a co-advisor to an SAO Predoctoral Fellow but they may not serve as sole advisors.
  • Harvard scientists may serve as an advisor to an SAO Predoctoral Fellow if their paperwork as a Research Associate to SAO is up-to-date in the Director’s Office.

Predoctoral Research Review Committees (PRRC)

  • PRRCs are expected to meet at least once annually and more often if the need arises.
  • PRRCs are expected to submit an evaluation report after each meeting to the Fellowship Program Coordinator.
  • An outside scientist may be appointed to a PRRC; however, the appointment of two outside scientists requires the approval of the Predoc Program Director.
  • Postdoctoral fellows may serve on a PRRC but cannot be the chair.