Each year more than 2,500 graduate students at MIT hold appointments as research assistants and research trainees.
The research assistant is a member of a research group in a laboratory or on a project, whose principal duty is to contribute, under supervision, to a program of departmental or interdepartmental research. Through project work, the assistant gains increased facility in organizing work, applying new experimental techniques to real problems, and oral presentation. Most students welcome the opportunity a research assistantship gives them to participate as junior colleagues of the faculty in an ongoing research project; this experience frequently influences their choice of thesis topic.
Research assistants are compensated on the basis of the time devoted to their research activities, and pay full tuition. The RA appointment comprises a stipend as well as a full tuition scholarship. Graduate students holding research assistant appointments must register as full time resident students.
Students who receive financial support from other sources (fellowships, scholarships, teaching assistantships) may receive supplementary stipends as part time research assistants only in accordance with Institute and departmental guidelines.