Research Assistant Courses and Training Programs

Read about the job duties, compensation, career options and prerequisites for a research assistant position, whether it is a graduate-level course or a paid training program for an academic or scientific career. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Research assistants help professionals in a study or program to collect information to foster knowledge in a specialized area. Positions are available in many fields for any undergraduate student.

Training Performing auxiliary tasks related to the study; conducting clinical studies in any field, including biology, physics, and history; many assistantships are fulfilled as internships
Responsibilities Library and Internet research; cleaning up work areas and running errands; producing promotional material; hosting conferences; editing materials for publication
Future Career Options Clinical research assistants, associates, and technologists, which make up an increasing segment of the workforce; employment available with private research and development firms

What Role Does a Research Assistant Perform?

Research assistants assist faculty, scientists, physicians, or other professionals in a study or program aimed at collecting information, achieving a predetermined goal, or fostering knowledge in a particular area. Assistants perform a variety of auxiliary tasks relevant to the study. At an academic institution, research assistants are generally undergraduate students, who obtain valuable experience by taking part in a clinical study or professional program design.

In What Fields of Research Can I Assist?

You may assist in virtually all areas of academia. Faculties develop the program requirements, including the number of assistants required, and then receive funding from the school's administration. Research programs conduct clinical studies in biology, physics, and psychology. Research studies in theatre arts, literature, and history can be conducted as well.

What Courses Will I Take in a Training Program?

The courses in your training program will mostly depend on what area of research you decide to study. In an undergraduate research assistant program, you might cover areas like:

  • Journalism
  • Arts
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences

Will I Be Paid as an Assistant?

Payment depends on the program design and the amount of funding available. Assistants may receive academic credit and experience only. In many cases, a small stipend or an hourly wage may be provided to ensure that you will work a minimum number of hours on the program during the allotted time.

What Is the Cost of an Assistantship?

In many cases, assistantships are part of your degree requirements and subject to tuition costs. Many assistantships fulfill a program's internship requirements.

What Duties Will I Perform?

Depending on the area of study, you may perform library and Internet research, data collection, and laboratory assistance. In many cases, research assistants may be asked to perform simple tasks, such as cleaning up a work area or running basic errands. Outside of the study, assistants may be asked to produce promotional material, host workshops or conferences, and edit manuscripts for publication.

What Are the Application Requirements?

Many university-funded studies require assistants to have accomplished a certain level of coursework and to have maintained a minimum grade point average. Faculty often recruit specific students who are eligible, and students with program concentrations within the department can often apply to become research assistants for a specific study.

What Career Options Are Available?

Professional research assistants are employed in a number of fields. In social science fields, such as social advocacy research, colleges and universities employ approximately one-half of professional research assistants, while half are employed by private research and development firms, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2017 data (www.bls.gov). In May 2017, the BLS reported a median salary of $46,000 for social science research assistants.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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