NIJ's Research Assistantship Program

The NIJ Research Assistantship Program (RAP) is designed to support criminal justice research and to provide highly qualified doctoral students with practical and applied research experience. NIJ provides funds to participating universities to pay salaries and other costs associated with research assistants who work on NIJ research activities.

The RAP is based on relationships between NIJ and participating universities. Participating universities nominate enrolled students for research assistantships, and NIJ selects from the nominees based on their background and expertise.

Placement Listings

Funding Details

NIJ and each participating university establish an agreement through which NIJ provides funds to pay research assistants' salaries, health insurance, and tuition remission.

The provision and amount of these funds are determined by the university's standard practice for similarly situated graduate research assistants whose work is performed at the university.

The cost of tuition remission is calculated based on the university's standard tuition (such as in-state rates for public schools) per credit hour. There are maximum amounts for tuition remission. They are:

Please note that NIJ determines the number, type, and length of research assistantships that it will support, if any, based partly on the availability of funds.

Research assistantship appointments last for a minimum of one year, with the possibility of reappointment depending on mid-year and annual performance reviews, funding availability, and agreements between NIJ and the research assistant's university.

Hours and Location

Research assistants are "full-time graduate research assistants" nominated by their universities and approved by NIJ. They work 20 to 25 hours per week over the approximately 9.5 months of the academic year. The number of hours worked each week will depend on university policy. If funding is available, research assistants may work full time up to 40 hours per week during university breaks in the fall, winter, spring and summer (with NIJ RAP and university prior approval).

Research assistants work primarily at the NIJ office - 810 Seventh Street, NW, Washington, D.C. - unless the RAP manager approves an alternate work location. Sometimes, work is conducted in the field, such as during data collection efforts, or at another approved location, such as at a university or research facility.

Research Assistantship Duties

Research assistants perform a range of research-related duties and must work effectively as part of a larger research team. Research assistants plan and schedule their work based on defined objectives, tasks, and priorities with the review and approval of the RAP program manager, assigned NIJ science staff, and the university's Graduate Program Director (GPD).

Applying for an NIJ Research Assistantship

Participating universities recommend doctoral students for selection to research assistant positions supported by NIJ. The university's recommendation(s) must be approved by NIJ.

Before they can be nominated by their university, candidates must provide their GPD with:

If the GPD wishes to nominate the student, he or she forwards the materials to the NIJ RAP manager for review and consideration.

The RAP manager and NIJ science staff interview qualified candidates and contact references. NIJ choses candidates on the basis of their background and experience. The selection process is highly competitive.

NIJ has set basic qualifications in specific areas for candidates. These include:

The Research Assistantship Program
Frequently Asked Questions

Are moving expenses for the Research Assistantship Program covered?
No. Moving expenses incurred as part of locating to the Washington, D.C. area are not reimbursable.

Who provides workspace and equipment for the Research Assistantship Program?
NIJ provides onsite workspace and equipment, including telephone, computer, office supplies, and Internet access.

Are expenses for training, conferences or similar activities covered?
If NIJ specifically requests that a research assistant participate in trainings, conferences, or similar activities that have associated costs, NIJ will, in its discretion, provide an amount for NIJ-approved costs of participation with University approval. This may include transportation (airfare, train, taxi, or mileage), lodging, per diem for meals and incidentals, and registration fees.

How does performance evaluation of research assistants work?
NIJ will assist the university in evaluating the performance of research assistants. Agreed-upon project plans are established prior to assistantship appointments. Research assistants then plan and schedule their work based on defined objectives, tasks, and priorities. They do this with the review and approval of the NIJ RAP Program Manager, assigned NIJ staff, and the university's Graduate Program Director.

Are research assistants federal employees?
Research assistants are not federal employees - they are employees of their respective universities. As such, they will not and cannot provide clerical support, be involved with grant processing or awards, grant management, or any other federal employee responsibility.

Detailed Research Assistantship
Duties and Responsibilities

Duties of research assistants include, but are not limited to:

Research assistants will carry out their day-to-day work in a professional manner, whether the work is performed on site at the NIJ office, in the field (such as during research site visits or data collection efforts), or at another approved location (such as at home, a university, or other research facility).

Research assistants will comply with the general workplace conditions applicable to other individuals who regularly work on site at NIJ, including security requirements, dress code, and business hours.

For more information, contact NIJ's RAP Manager at