A research assistant works closely with a faculty supervisor and with other graduate students on a sponsored research project. Work performed by the student may be recognized as thesis research. Students seeking research assistantships must take the initiative in contacting faculty with whom they would like to work. Research assistantships are negotiated on an individual basis between the student and faculty member. The Department does not make these arrangements. Applicants are advised not to contact faculty about research assistantships until after they have been admitted.
A research assistant is an employee of the Institute and is required to devote full time effort to the research project, at the very minimum during normal working hours, with the exception of the time spent in scheduled lecture or laboratory classes for which the student is registered. Specific details concerning work hours and duties and the scheduling of vacations should be arranged with the faculty supervisor.
Research assistants may register for a maximum of 39 non-thesis credit units of course work during the Fall and Spring semesters and 36 units during the summer semester. Graduate students holding research assistantship appointments must register as full-time resident students. The research assistant observes Institute holidays and is entitled to a vacation of two weeks per calendar year. The vacation schedules must be approved by their supervisor.
The stipend of a 100% research assistant, effective June 1, 2017, is $2827 payable on the last working day of each month. For doctoral candidates, an increase in stipend to $3094 per month will follow upon successful completion of both the written general examination and thesis area examination. Federal and State taxes will be withheld. A full tuition award and health insurance award for the term is credited to the student's account.
In most cases research assistants are encouraged to continue their research programs through the summer. However, in some instances, it may be beneficial for the assistant to accept other summer employment. Students considering such employment should discuss the situation with their supervisor and with the DMSE Academic Office as early as possible. International students should also consult with MIT's International Students Office.