Theoretical High Energy Physics Groups
Common Deadline for Postdoc Offers

The institutions signing this letter are listed below.  Also given below are answers to frequently asked questions and a list of postdoc job offers with exceptional deadlinesSend email to to add your institution as a signer of this letter, or to add a specific postdoc job to the list of exceptional deadlines (giving the reason for the exceptional deadline).  

An open letter to the theoretical physics community

June 1, 2007

In recent years, we have seen a growing number of early offers with short deadlines for high energy theory postdoctoral positions.  This year, the practice has become too widespread to be ignored.

We are worried that this practice is preventing young researchers from making a free and fair choice among their job opportunities.  And, while there may be some short term advantage for the institutions which do this, we believe it will have serious negative effects in the long run.

We should keep in mind that most of these positions are funded by agencies for the purpose of promoting the training of young scholars in theoretical physics.  That is, the positions are primarily for the benefit of the young researchers, rather than that of the institution that hires them.  From this point of view, it would be hard to defend any policy which denied to postdoctoral candidates the maximum possible choice among fellowships.  Note also that the problem is not with early offers per se, as long as the deadlines are reasonable.

Thus, we commit to make no postdoctoral offer for the fall of a given year, whose deadline for acceptance is earlier than January 7th of that year.  We urge all of our colleagues at other institutions to follow the same guidelines.

Please urge all institutions you are in contact with to join our pledge to set deadlines no earlier than January 7.

Signed by:

Nikita Nekrasov
Simons Center for Geometry and Physics

Daniel Friedan
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Michael E. Peskin
SLAC Theory Group

Laurent Baulieu
LPTHE, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 75005

Igor R. Klebanov
Princeton University

Edward Farhi
Center for Theoretical Physics, MIT

Luis Alvarez-Gaume
Theory Group, CERN

Yutaka Hosotani
Osaka University, High Energy Theory Group

Costas Bachas
LPT of the Ecole Normale

Leonard Susskind
Stanford University

Andy Strominger
Harvard University

Antonio Gonzalez-Arroyo
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Stephen L.Adler
Institute for Advanced Study

Eliezer Rabinovici
Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University
Jerusalem 91904, Israel

Michael Dine
University of California at Santa Cruz

George Sterman
C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics
Stony Brook University

Petr Horava
University of California, Berkeley
and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Tohru Eguchi
Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University

Massimo Bianchi
Dipartimento di Fisica & Sezione INFN
Universita' di Roma "Tor Vergata"

Michael Gronau
Physics Department, Technion

Chris Hill
Theoretical Physics Department, Fermilab

Michael B. Green
High Energy Physics Group
DAMTP, University of Cambridge

Amanda Peet
University of Toronto Physics

Wojtek J. Zakrzewski
MATHS-CPT, Durham University

Alexander Sevrin
Theoretical High Energy Physics
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Jan Louis
String Theory Group, Hamburg

Dieter Zeppenfeld
Institut fuer Theoretische Physik
Universitaet Karlsruhe

Marc Henneaux
Universite Libre de Bruxelles
International Solvay Institutes

Antal Jevicki
High Energy Theory Group, Brown

Antoine Van Proeyen
K.U. Leuven, High-energy Physics group

Matthias Gaberdiel
Institute for Theoretical Physics
ETH Zuerich

Matteo Bertolini
SISSA - Elemntary Particle Physics Sector

Joan Simon
School of Mathematic, University of Edinburgh

Ivan Todorov, Emil Nissimov
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia -

Elias Kiritsis
CPHT, Ecole Polytechnique

Bernard de Wit
Inst. for Theoretical Physics, Utrecht University

Hans Peter Nilles
Physikalisches Institut, Universitaet Bonn

Chris Hull
Theoretical Physics Group, Imperial College London

Csaba Csaki
Newman Laboratory, Cornell University

Niels A. Obers
Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology Group
Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen

Csaba Balazs
School of Physics, Monash University
Melbourne VIC 3800, Australia

Eric Laenen
Nikhef Amsterdam Theory Group

Manuel Drees
Bonn University

Herbi Dreiner
Theoretische Physik
Physikalisches Institut University of Bonn

Mark Van Raamsdonk
University of British Columbia

Hermann Nicolai
Potsdam, Max Planck Institute

Robert Myers
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Bengt EW Nilsson
Dept of Fundamental Physics
Chalmers University of Technology

Tom DeGrand
University of Colorado

Shahin Sheikh-Jabbari
School of Physics, IPM, Tehran

Bill Spence
Centre for Research in String Theory
Queen Mary, University of London

Jan Plefka Quantum Field Theory Group
Humboldt-University Berlin

Joseph Polchinski
UC at Santa Barbara/Kavli Institute

Laurence Yaffe
University of Washington

Graham Shore
Theoretical Physics, Swansea University

Jean-Marc Gerard
Ctr. for Particle Physics/Phenomenology, UCL, Louvain

Martin Schmaltz
Boston University Particle Theory Group

John Terning
UC Davis

Jim Cline
McGill University

Tilman Plehn
School of Physics
University of Edinburgh

Elizabeth H. Simmons
High-Energy Theory Group
Michigan State University

Finn Larsen
University of Michigan

Francesco Sannino
University of Southern Denmark

Charlotte Elster
INPP, Ohio University

Ofer Aharony
Weizmann Institute of Science

Mirjam Cvetic/Burt Ovrut
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania

Alexey A Petrov
Wayne State University

Ulf Lindström
Uppsala University

Xerxes Tata
Theory Group, University of Hawaii

Graham Kribs
University of Oregon

Zvi Bern
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Michael Krämer
Institute for Theoretical Physics
RWTH Aachen University

Alfonso V. Ramallo
String Theory Group
University of Santiago de Compostela

Gary Shiu
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Doug Toussaint
University of Arizona High Energy Theory Group

R. Sekhar Chivukula
Michigan State University High Energy Theory Group

Simon Catterall
Syracuse University Theoretical Particle Physics Group

Pavel Nadolsky
Southern Methodist University

John Donoghue
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Paul H. Frampton
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Manfred Lindner
Director, Max Planck Institut fuer Kernphysik, Heidelberg, Germany

Patrick Huber
Physics Department, Virginia Tech

Matthew Headrick
Martin Fisher School of Physics, Brandeis University

Subir Sarkar
Particle Theory Group, Oxford University

Christopher D. Carone
Physics Department, College of William & Mary

Markus Diehl
Theory Group, DESY, Hamburg Site

Cobi Sonnenschein
Tel Aviv University

Frequently asked questions

1.  Who should sign this letter?

2.  How can we sign?

3.  Why choose January 7, and not some other date?

4.  What if our job starts before September?  What if our job covers several fields, not just theoretical physics, and we have to compete with earlier deadlines in other fields?  What if external considerations (say a funding agency deadline) force us to set an earlier deadline?

5.  Can we give a suggested response date in advance of January 7?

6.  What should I (a candidate) do if I am given an earlier hard deadline?

7.  Why not use a centralized matching system?


1.  Who should sign this letter? 

Researchers in theoretical physics who hire postdocs.  This agreement was originally proposed by theoretical particle physicists, but we are happy to have others join as well.

Of course, the proposal could be of interest beyond these fields.  However, to keep the discussion and signature list to a manageable size, and because some of the details (such as the date) might be different in different fields, we would ask others to start independent agreements.

It is only necessary to have one person sign per group, meaning either a typical size department in a university, or a group with a coherent hiring policy within a larger department, lab or other institution.  Of course, that person should be authorized by the group, and willing to take responsibility for the agreement.

2.  How can we sign?

Send an e-mail to
stating the necessary information, including contact information.  Of course, you can also ask to be removed from the agreement.

3.  Why choose January 7, and not some other date?

First, we would like to maximize the time available for candidates to publish their work and submit their applications.  This rules out deadlines in December and earlier.  The holiday break also provides a natural interval in which candidates can consider offers, get information, and in some cases make decisions.

On the other hand, all other factors being equal, an earlier date would be preferable, to speed up the process.

One argument for a somewhat later deadline is the following.  Once some candidates have accepted offers, they will turn down others, freeing some groups to make early second offers.  This will enable other candidates to switch to these offers, freeing up more institutions to make early second offers.  This procedure can iterate and we do not want candidates to be forced to accept jobs as it is taking place.  Thus, for the process to be fair, we must allow some time for this process to converge, before enforcing a hard deadline on the first round offers.

The holiday break ends on different days, depending on the institution and the vicissitudes of the calendar.  CERN, for example, is closed the first week of January, and so might not re-open until the 8th.  Even for those with more flexibility, if January 1 falls on a Thursday, it could easily be January 5 before a group could hold a meeting to make second offers.

Then, allowing several days for the early second offers to complete, brings us somewhere between January 7 and January 15.  We have fixed on the earliest date in this range.

4.  What if our job starts before September?  What if our job covers several fields, not just theoretical physics, and we have to compete with earlier deadlines in other fields?  What if external considerations (say a funding agency deadline) force us to set an earlier deadline?

Although we believe that every effort should be made to follow this agreement, there are a variety of special situations which are legitimate reasons for a nonstandard deadline.

To avoid confusion, we are providing a public "opt-out" list, in which groups can register the fact that a particular position has a nonstandard deadline, and state the reasons.  This can be done by sending e-mail to

(the same address as above), we would hope at the time the position is first announced.

5.  Can we give a suggested response date in advance of January 7?

Yes.  This agreement applies to hard deadlines, beyond which an offer is withdrawn, and perhaps offered to another candidate.  An earlier response date can be requested, for any reason.  But if the candidate asks for an extension until January 7, this must be honored.

6.  What should I (a candidate) do if I am given an earlier hard deadline?

Ask politely for an extension until January 7.

If this is refused, let us (any of the signatories) know.

7.  Why not use a centralized matching system?

In some comparable situations, candidates are assigned to institutions using a centralized matching system.  The example that we know about is the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) for medical residencies, described at

In rough outline, candidates and institutions provide rank ordered lists to the service, which then makes binding assignments attempting to maximize the preferences of all involved, essentially simultaneously (over one week).

Candidates and institutions are allowed to informally communicate their general preferences to each other in advance, so the system allows for some degree of human contact and maneuver at that stage.

It seems likely to us that, because of the many differences between the professions and institutions in the two cases, adapting this system to our situation would require a great deal of work.

And as is evident from their website, the system requires a great deal of administration to run, and to enforce the agreements on the parties involved.  But this may be an interesting direction to consider for the future.

Postdoc jobs with exceptional deadlines

No exceptional deadlines listed.

(This page was last edited Dec. 2, 2013.  Send comments to