Research assistants (RAs)

Each year a large percentage of graduate students at MIT hold appointments as research assistants (RAs). Research assistants are student-employees whose employment terms are detailed primarily by the MIT and MIT GSU Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

A research assistant is a member of a research group in a laboratory or on a project, whose principal duty is to contribute, under supervision and direction of a faculty member, principal investigator, or other designated individual, to a program of departmental, interdepartmental, or sponsored research, including but not limited to the gathering and analysis of data or evidence; the development of theoretical analyses and models; and the production or publication of scholarly journals and research reports. The appointment is made with the understanding that the overall work experience will contribute to the professional training of the employee, to a program of departmental or interdepartmental research.

Graduate students holding research assistant appointments must register as full-time regular students and are charged full tuition during the period of appointment. The RA appointment typically comprises a salary as well as tuition remission which is credited directly to the student’s account. Research assistants are compensated on the basis of the time devoted to research employment duties. 

A 100% RA appointment typically includes payment of full tuition for the period of the appointment. Tuition coverage for some professional masters programs may vary; all students should check with their program office to confirm the terms of their appointment. A 100% RA appointment  requires no more than 20 hours of work per week on average during the appointment period. Partial appointments have pro-rated time commitment expectations. MIT recognizes that graduate students may spend additional time conducting research in support of their academic studies. International students considering an RA appointment should review information regarding on-campus work.

Partial appointments (for effort less than 100%) are also possible, and are frequently used to supplement outside fellowships, scholarships, or teaching assistantships. Students who receive financial support from multiple sources must do so in accordance with Institute and department guidelines.

For additional information about RA appointments, please see the MIT-GSU collective Bargaining Agreement.  In the event of any conflict between this webpage and the CBA, the CBA governs.