Research Assistant FAQ and Guidelines

The Research Assistantship Program allows faculty members to hire talented Muhlenberg students on a part time basis (up to 20 hours a week) at the college standard student wage ($8.00/hour) to assist them with the professional work required by their academic discipline. The program provides hands-on experience for Muhlenberg students who wants to complement their classroom education with practical work experience and lets them to see some aspect of professional scholarly activity from the inside. There is a rolling deadline for this program. Please submit applications at any time, and approved proposals will be supported as long as funding is available.

A Research Assistant might:

  • Run an experiment
  • Monitor a laboratory
  • Help administer an academic journal or professional organization
  • Work on an index or other aspects of a manuscript
  • Pull books, articles, or photographs from a library collection
  • Do research under the faculty member's direction
  • Help organize a conference or other scholarly meeting

This program helps faculty:

  • Accomplish scholarly goals and complete professional projects
  • Manage their time more efficiently
  • Accept external academic service positions (editing journals, running professional organizations) that have heavy administrative components
  • Select assistants based on their talents, aptitudes, and interests
  • Manage Assistantships effectively by having the power to hire and fire

This program helps students:

  • Grow through hands-on educational experience
  • Gain exposure to professional scholarship
  • Integrate work experience with academic learning
  • Earn a meaningful letter of recommendation
  • Perform a service to the College

We would like to offer Assistantships in all divisions and in as many departments as possible. Research Assistantships should provide students with serious responsibilities, require particular skills and aptitudes, and be centered on a major scholarly or professional project. Positions should require a greater level of responsibility and commitment than is typically required for a work-study and should not be ones in which the student is simply a general-purpose assistant.

Prior to applying, please consider whether your project is more appropriate for an independent study.  An independent study should be initiated, defined, and directed by the student. The faculty member’s role is to provide guidance and instruction, and to grade the end product of the student’s work.   In contrast,  a research assistantship is defined and directed by the faculty member, not the student. The student’s role is to provide specialized assistance that directly forwards the research objectives of the faculty member.  The student must already have the relevant expertise, so that the amount of mentoring required is minimal. The goal is to provide meaningful work for the student that would otherwise not be a productive use of the faculty member’s time. There need not be any gradable end-product in an RA.

All Research Assistantship positions and employers are on campus, and enrolled students are compensated through monthly student-payroll disbursements. Research Assistantship positions do not overlap, duplicate, or replace work-study jobs, independent studies, or academic internships; instead, they supplement these opportunities. The goal of the program is to create new opportunities on campus for students wishing to gain hands-on experience and to provide faculty with talented students to assist them in their academic work and professional obligations.

Research Assistant applications are evaluated by FDSC on a rolling basis. To try to ensure equity across the college, if a faculty member is applying to hire more than one RA for one or more semesters, please alert FDSC of such intentions at the time of the initial application.  The faculty member should rank order the proposed student hires, in case FDSC lacks sufficient funds for all of them.  In the event that a faculty member is requesting multiple RAs over two semesters, FDSC may approve the first semester funding and ask the professor to reapply towards the end of that semester for the following semester. Reapplications should occur no sooner than November 15, April 1, or July 31, depending on the semester in question. If enough funds remain, FDSC will be happy to continue funding for multiple semesters.