Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Photograph of our Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellows.

Carnegie Observatories operates several post-doctoral fellowship programs in observational and theoretical astronomy and instrumentation. Not all fellowships are offered every year: the Carnegie Fellowship, Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship, and Carnegie Theoretical Astrophysics Center (CTAC) Fellowship are available for the November 6, 2020 application deadline, i.e., for fellowships beginning in September 2021.

Details of each fellowship program are outlined below.

All fellows are expected to pursue research topics of their choice. Fellows enjoy access to all of Carnegie’s observing facilities in Chile on the same basis as the scientific staff, including the two 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes, the 2.5-meter du Pont telescope, and the 1.0-meter Swope telescope, all at Las Campanas Observatory. In the recent past, Carnegie Fellows have generally received 3-5 nights of Magellan time per semester. Carnegie is also a full institutional member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV and V.  Scientific computing resources available include the Carnegie Memex cluster ( in addition to local computing resources. Based in Pasadena, between the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, the Observatories provides an exceptional research environment and access to resources for theorists, observers, and instrumentalists alike. Each fellowship provides ample support for travel, computing, and publications. A list of current and past fellows and their current positions is available here.

At Carnegie, we are committed to building a scientifically excellent and inclusive community. We believe that resilience, tenacity, and generosity are important elements to scientific success. We also believe that the academic environment is enhanced when diverse groups of people with a variety of viewpoints and ideas work together.

If you are interested in having Carnegie host your Hubble, Jansky, NSF, or other fellowship, please contact Dr. Josh Simon. Externally funded fellows also have access to Carnegie’s observing anc computing facilities described above.

Carnegie Fellowship (due Nov. 6, 2020)

The fellowship is intended to encourage long-term research in observational or theoretical astrophysics and/or instrumentation. We are particularly interested in applicants who have received their Ph.D. degree within the past three years. Fellowships are awarded for two years and may be renewed for an additional third year. The successful applicant must have completed the Ph.D. requirements before assuming the fellowship. Please find further details in our job announcement at Email inquiries may be sent to Dr. Josh Simon at

Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship (due Nov. 6, 2020)

The Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton is a major partner in the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the Simons Observatory, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. The department is collaborating with the Japanese astronomical community on large imaging and spectroscopic surveys with the Subaru Telescope, focused on extragalactic astronomy (the Hyper Suprime-Cam survey) and planetary systems around other stars (the Charis survey). In addition, we are heavily involved in planning for the Prime Focus Spectrograph Survey. The successful applicant will have the right to join all these surveys. Together with research groups in other departments in the university and the nearby Institute for Advanced Study, the department offers an unparalleled environment for research in theoretical and observational astrophysics and cosmology. 

For further important details please read our job announcement at Please send any inquiries to Dr. Josh Simon at

Carnegie Theoretical Astrophysics Center (CTAC) Fellowship (due Nov. 6,  2020)

The fellowship is intended to encourage long-term research in theoretical astrophysics, particularly in areas related to the ongoing efforts at the Observatories in star/galaxy/black hole formation and evolution, and cosmology (see ). Fellows are expected to carry out an independent program of research that complements and enhances both the theoretical and observational activities of the observatory - collaboration with observational colleagues is a key goal of the Fellowship. CTAC Fellows have full access to Carnegie's computational resources; previous fellows have utilized 1-2 million CPU hours per year. The fellowship is awarded for two years and may be renewed for an additional third year. The successful applicant must have completed the Ph.D. requirements before assuming the fellowship.

For further important details please read our job announcement at Please send any inquiries to Dr. Juna Kollmeier at

Carnegie Origins Fellowship (not offered in 2020)

The Carnegie Origins Initiative is a unique interdisciplinary program that addresses the conditions, within our solar system and exosolar systems, that give rise to planet formation and, ultimately, life.  Topics include, but are not limited to, instrumentation, Galactic chemical evolution and stellar abundances, star-planet interaction, planet formation, detection and characterization of exosolar planets, and planetary evolution. The Fellow is expected to split the four fellowship years between residence at the Observatories in Pasadena and the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) in Washington, DC, in a way to be negotiated. The Carnegie Origins Fellow is expected to carry out an original research program related to the Origins Initiative. The Origins fellowhip is not available in 2020.

Carnegie Fellowship in Astronomical Instrumentation (not offered in 2020)

The fellowship is intended to encourage the development of young instrumentalists in ground-based astronomy.  We are particularly interested in applicants who have received their Ph.D. degree within the past three years. Fellowships are typically three year positions, but additional years may be awarded to allow the fellow to complete work on specific projects. The successful applicant must have completed the Ph.D.  requirements before assuming the fellowship. The Astronomical Instrumentation Fellowship is not available in 2020, but we encourage interested instrumentalists to apply to the Carnegie and/or Carnegie-Princeton Fellowships.

How to Apply

Applications for all fellowships include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae and bibliography, a brief essay describing the applicant's current research (up to 3 pages including references), and a research proposal (up to 5 pages including references) based on the facilities available at the Observatories. Applications may be submitted online using the link below. Please indicate the fellowships in which you are interested. Applicants must also provide the names and email addresses of three references, who will be emailed a link for electronic submission of their letters. Applications for all Fellowships are due by November 6. Reference letters are due November 13. We will take into consideration personal experiences and challenges faced, as well as efforts in outreach or service activities that demonstrate excellence and are not otherwise captured in the application materials. Candidates are encouraged to include this information in their cover letter (in as much detail as needed) as they see appropriate.

Applicants for the Carnegie-Princeton fellowship must ALSO submit their application to Princeton via Note that three letters of reference must be submitted to BOTH Carnegie and Princeton via their respective online applications. The research plan should address how the applicant intends to use the resources and facilities available at both host institutions. Selection of the successful candidate will be made by a joint Carnegie-Princeton committee.  All applicants for the Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship will automatically be considered for all postdoctoral positions in the Astrophysical Sciences department at Princeton and for the Carnegie Fellowship at The Observatories; however, they should clearly state in the cover letter that they wish to be considered for the Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship.