For Employed RAs: Expectations for Research Assistants

Please note: This information is for students employed in RA positions.  Please see the Funding page to find out how to become a RA.

If you are a Research Assistant (RA), you are an employee of the School of Mechanical Engineering and are expected to behave appropriately and professionally: be on time, respect your supervisor and property of the school, do not miss meetings, and be responsible for your actions.

Remember: An assistantship position is not guaranteed beyond the dates of the original contract.  If your major professor has funding and wants to continue your employment after the original contract expires, they’ll need to notify their account manager and the employment center that they plan to extend your employment.  A new offer letter will not be needed.

Overview of Research Assistant Responsibilities

  1. You are an employee of Purdue and the School of Mechanical Engineering with your Major Professor as your supervisor.
  2. Any student not reporting for the first day of employment will have her/his pay adjusted to account for the absence.
  3. RA’s are expected to satisfy ME’s requirement to be registered full-time (8 credit hours in spring/fall semesters, 6 credit hours in summer) during your RA semesters and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.  If you’re an international student, you also need to follow ISS requirements.  Exception to this registration requirement, can occur in your graduation semester, and CAND 991 students could register for only 3 credit hours, assuming all their credit requirements have been met.  Or, 0 credit hours, if you’re registering as CAND 992 or CAND 993.  International students would need to contact ISS and request approval for a reduced course load.
  4. You are expected to obey Purdue graduate staff policies.  Please see Graduate Staff Employment Manual for a complete understanding of positions, requirements, responsibilities, termination, etc.  (Please be aware you are expected to follow ME’s requirements that may exceed the Grad School requirements.) 
  5. RA’s are paid biweekly.  You can find biweekly payroll calendar dates on the Human Resources website.
  6. If your appointment is at least half time, you will be eligible to enroll in the Graduate Student Staff Health Plan, see Graduate Staff Benefits.  If you choose to accept this plan, the University will subsidize approximately 80% of the cost of the present plan.  Additional coverage for a spouse and other dependents is available but without the University subsidy.  
  7. You must meet the job requirements of your Major Professor in the same way you would for your boss in another job.
  8. You should be meeting regularly with your Major Professor at least once a week.
  9. Know your professor’s expectations for your research and academic performance. Convey to her or him your own expectations from graduate study and research.
  10. Every semester you’re funded, always register for research credit hours (ME 69800 for Master’s and ME 69900 for PhD & DPhD).  (Funded international students need to make sure they’re registered for full-time, between course work and research credits, each semester.  Full-time in spring/fall semesters is 8 credit hours; Summer is 6 credit hours.)
  11. Please keep in mind that research assistantship work may or may not align with your thesis research.
  12. Grades of S or U apply to research credit hours. These grades are given by the Major Professor for each semester. Two unsatisfactory (U) grades (consecutive or nonconsecutive) will result in dismissal from the ME graduate program.
  13. Office space is assigned at the research site by the appropriate staff person.
  14. All research assistantship students must write a thesis.
  15. Change of degree objective requires the approval of the Major Professor, completion of Grad School Form 17-B, which when approved, will also require a new plan of study to be submitted for the new degree objective.

Emergency Preparedness Resources for Faculty and Teaching Assistants

ME Graduate Office
516 Northwestern Ave. (4th floor of Wang Hall)
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 494-5730
Virtual office hours available every Tues/Wed/Thurs