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How graduate funding works: Research and teaching assistantships

Research and teaching appointments advance the development of graduate students by giving them experience in scholarship and instruction while also providing an income.

Most graduate students at MIT are supported by appointments as research or teaching assistants. A brief review of the difference between the positions is below; you can find more about terms, stipends, and other aspects on the OGE website.

Research assistantship appointment

research assistant is a member of a research group in a laboratory or on a project, whose principal duty is to contribute, under supervision, to a program of departmental or interdepartmental research. Contact your graduate administrator to find out about opportunities in your department.

Teaching assistantship appointment

The principal duties of a teaching assistant include assisting a member of the faculty in grading undergraduate quizzes and homework, instructing in the classroom and/or laboratory, preparing apparatus for demonstrations, posting web-based materials, and conducting tutorials. Contact your graduate administrator to find out about opportunities in your department. For resources to support graduate students who teach, see Teaching at MIT.


For tax purposes, research assistant and teaching assistant stipends are considered as “earned income” as a result of the services rendered. As such, the Institute is obliged to withhold federal and Massachusetts income taxes from the stipends of teaching and research assistants. You can learn more about the tax implications of research and teaching assistantships on the ODGE website.