A Research Assistant is a graduate student assigned to conduct research that is for the benefit of the student’s own learning and research and for the benefit of the university, faculty or academic staff supervisor or granting agency. This title does not include students provided fellowships, scholarships, or traineeships, which are distributed through other titles such as fellow, scholar, or trainee.
Most graduate Research Assistants are located within the home department of the graduate student. Most are also located within the primary research lab of the graduate student’s major professor or advisor. However, some cross-lab or cross-department research assistantships exist too. Similarly, most research assistantships are directly related to the research interests of the graduate student, such as a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation, but sometimes Research Assistants will be hired to work on topics unrelated to their research.