NIJ's Fellowship and Student Programs

  • December 23, 2019 6:52 PM
    Message # 8368893
    Deandra Taylor (Administrator)

    NIJ's Research Assistantship Program

    December 2, 2019

    Apply now!

    We are currently accepting applications. All required elements must be submitted by January 15, 2020.

    Contact Us

    The NIJ Research Assistantship Program (RAP) offers highly qualified doctoral students the opportunity to bring their expertise to NIJ to work across offices and program areas to obtain a practical and applied research experience. The RA program is a research focused professional development opportunity for doctoral students. We welcome students from all academic disciplines to apply who wish to connect their research to the criminal justice field. This unique assistantship is an opportunity to learn and contribute to the breadth and depth of science research in which NIJ engages. NIJ provides funds to participating universities to pay salaries and other costs associated with research assistants who work on NIJ research activities.

    On this page you will find:

    Overview of NIJ’s Research Assistantship Program

    In the fall of each year, NIJ announces on its website and through social media and other dissemination mechanisms, the availability of research assistantships. Universities nominate enrolled students for these assistantships, and NIJ selects from the nominees based on their background and expertise.

    Any questions should be directed to NIJ's RAP manager at

    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 (via a memorandum of understanding and inter-agency or cooperative agreement).

    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:

    • Up to 20 credits per academic year for full-time graduate research assistants who work for NIJ during the academic year only.
    • Up to 24 credits per calendar year for full-time graduate research assistants who work for NIJ throughout the calendar year.

    Please note that NIJ determines the number, type and length of research assistantships that it will support, if any, based on the quality of applications, NIJ research priorities and the availability of funds. Research assistantship appointments last for one year, following the home university's academic calendar. There is the possibility of reappointment depending on mid-year 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 30 hours per week (based on university policy) under a 9.5- or 12-month appointment, as applicable. 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 the NIJ RAP manager’s and the university’s prior approval).

    Research assistants work primarily at the NIJ office, 810 Seventh St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 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 manager, relevant NIJ staff and the university’s Graduate Program Director (GPD). See below for more details on research assistant duties and responsibilities.

    Applying for a NIJ Research Assistantship

    Universities recommend doctoral students for selection to research assistant positions supported by NIJ. The university’s recommendation(s) must be submitted by the Graduate Development Program (GPD) to the NIJ RAP manager. The GDP may submit multiple student application packets to the following address:, by January 15, 2020.

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

    • Statement of interest (1,000 word maximum) that describes the applicant's background and qualifications, current educational program objectives, basis for interest in the assistantship — including issues of interest and skills to be acquired — and career goals, including how the assistantship would support those goals.
    • Public Safety Challenge Essay: Applicant should provide an essay describing what they consider to be the greatest public safety challenge (or set of challenges) that can be addressed through advances in science (including social and behavioral), technology, engineering or mathematics within the next 20 years, and why. Applicant will need to explain why this challenge is important and what advances could be employed to address the challenge. (No more than five (5) pages).
    • A résumé/CV.
    • An unofficial copy (copies) of their transcript(s) covering their undergraduate and doctoral graduate studies.
    • One Letter of Recommendation. Letter of recommendation must be from an individual who can comment on the student’s academic achievements and abilities, and other qualities and interests that make the applicant especially qualified to serve as a research assistant.
    • Up to three contacts for reference checks.
    • Writing sample of a scientific paper. (Can be from a classroom assignment or a publication).

    It is the responsibility of the GPD to submit these materials to NIJ’s RAP manager for review and consideration.

    Upon consideration of all applications, the RAP manager and NIJ science staff may reach out to interview qualified candidates. NIJ chooses candidates on the basis of their background and experience. The selection process is highly competitive. Final selection will occur in spring 2020, for placements that begin in September 2020.

    When considering applying, please keep in mind the following qualifications:

    • University enrollment. Candidates must be enrolled in a research-based doctoral-degree program at a public or private university. Universities should contact the RAP manager at to determine if they qualify for program participation.
    • Degree program. Candidates must be working towards a doctoral degree throughout the research assistantship period of performance. Degree programs include Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.), Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.) and Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.). 
    • Reasoning ability. Research assistants must be able to work independently, accurately, and in a timely manner.
    • Communication skills. Candidates should have the ability to communicate orally and in writing to prepare comprehensive research reports, proposals, and evaluations, and to make recommendations to accomplish and enhance project objectives.
    • Certifications, licenses and registrations. Human Subjects Protection training is required. Accepted research assistants will take training on site at the Office of Justice Programs.
    • Background check. Successful completion and approval of all required U.S. Department of Justice profile and prescreening paperwork, security reviews, and background investigations (such as credit and criminal investigations) are required.
    • Citizenship. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or a permanent U.S. resident.

    To learn more visit:

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