University of California, Riverside

Graduate Division

Postdoctoral Scholar FAQs

What’s the postdoc community like at UCR?

Over 200 postdocs make up the community at UCR.  Every UCR postdoc is automatically member of the Riverside Postdoctoral Association (RPA). The RPA organizes the monthly Science and Happy Hours, an informal talk from one of our postdoc members followed by snacks and drinks. The RPA also organizes a more formal postdoc symposium to showcase the research being done by postdocs at UCR.

Contact for additional Information and to get involved with the RPA.

What’s Riverside like?

Riverside has many fun restaurants, bars, and museums within walking distance of the campus.  Hiking trails are also a popular activity in the Box Spring Mountains and Sycamore Canyon.  It can get pretty hot in the summer, but the temperature is mild for most of the rest of the year. From Riverside, you can get to LA, the beach, the mountains, or the desert in about an hour’s drive.

Where should I live?

There are many housing opportunities near UCR campus, both in apartment complexes and in houses.  Just east of campus is quiet and residential.  South of campus is near the Canyon Crest shopping center.  North of campus has many apartment complexes, but is also popular with undergraduates.  Downtown Riverside is to the west and is also just a short drive or bus ride from campus.

Tip - Although most places are rented unfurnished, several companies will rent furniture (sometimes including the housing complex itself). Many landlords will ask for your Social Security Number (SSN).

Getting a Social Security Number (SSN)

In order to set up your computer accounts at UCR, you will likely need an SSN (the U.S. identification number for tax and several other purposes). Acquiring one of these takes up to two weeks after filling out an application at the Social Security Office.  There are two offices within easy distance of UCR; 7880 Mission Grove Pkwy S., Riverside, CA and 22815 Calle San Juan De Los Lagos, Moreno Valley (be sure to check the locations as they may move offices). You generally only need the receipt to show proof of application for most UCR services which can speed things up considerably.

Getting a bank account:

Opening a bank account in the U.S. is relatively straightforward if you have government issued ID (e.g. a passport), US visa and a contract (i.e. showing proof of income). Popular banks include

-Bank of America (1680 University Ave)

-Chase (1299 University Ave)

Not all financial services will work the same way as in your home country. In particular, some services are still reliant upon checks and you may have to ask about getting a checkbook. The U.S. is also quite reliant upon credit history, which for a foreigner may be absent (particularly if you are resident of an EU country where data-protection laws prevent the sharing of your credit history with U.S. banks). As such you may be denied or have an extremely low limit on your credit card.

Health Insurance / Which health insurance options should I choose?

The postdoc health insurance is provided by Garnett-Powers & Associates, Inc.  You have 31 days from your date of hire to sign up for health insurance.  Be sure to sign up on the Garnett-Powers web site as the does not work for UCR.   More information about the health insurance plans can be found at:  Services in the U.S. require the user to possess some form of health insurance.  You choice of providers will depend on your needs;  If you need a specific doctor or if you are ok with the doctors on the provider’s list and the amount of any deductible (contribution the user must pay for a treatment). We suggest you take advice from your colleagues. As a last resort it may be worth showing your US visa, as in the case of a J-1 visa, it was a condition for your entry into the US that your employer (e.g. UCR) has arranged health coverage for you.

Getting a mobile/cell phone

US networks offer a constantly fluctuating plethora of services involving calls, SMS and data. In addition to main carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) there are often local carriers which essentially re-sell network space, often at significant discounts (although almost always with more restrictive terms), and sometimes with more restrictive regional coverage.

Tip - If you bring your own phone to the U.S. you may be able to reduce your costs by only purchasing a U.S. SIM card. You will likely need an unlocked GSM phone and to check that your carrier allows unlocked GSM phones on their networks (currently AT&T but not Verizon or Sprint).

Public Transport

Whilst a large fraction of residents of Southern California use cars, some public transport options exist. The main UCR campus is passed by bus service 1 (to downtown, every 15 min) and 16 (every 20 min), and with a UCR card (visit UCR card services) you can use these and other Riverside busses for free.

Rail services depart from the Riverside Metrolink station (near downtown) and is served by Amtrak and Metrolink services to many destinations, though the most popular is Los Angeles downtown (around 1 hour 40 minutes). See

Are there teaching opportunities for postdocs at UCR?

Postdocs can apply for teaching positions during UCR’s Summer Session. Keep an eye out for emails from your department if you’re interested in these teaching opportunities.

Is the Postdoc Association the same as the Union?

No, the Postdoc Association and the Union are separate organizations. Here’s a link for more information on the Union:

How Long after I separate from the University do I have access to my  UCR email account?

Employees and non Academic Senate Faculty who leave the university in good standing are allowed to access their e-mail for 30 days after their separation date.

Who do I contact about visa issues?

The International Scholars Office will help with any visa questions you may have.  Contact information can be found on their web site at

Disclaimer: The advice presented here is solely the opinion of the authors and are intended only as tips. The RPA admits no responsibility for errors due to incorrect or out-of-date information and is in no-way responsible for services provided by any of the external parties mentioned above.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Graduate Division
University Office Building

Tel: (951) 827-4302
Fax: (951) 827-2238