Graduate Student Summer Associate Program

Note: The 2019 application period is now closed.

Applications for the summer 2020 will be accepted starting mid-October, 2019.

RAND's Summer Associate Program introduces outstanding graduate students to RAND, an institution that conducts research on a wide range of national security problems and domestic and international social policy issues. RAND's core research areas include:

The program receives about 600 applications each year for the 40+ positions. The selection process is based on matching Summer Associates and their specific skill sets with researchers and their project needs. Given the ever changing research climate, we often do not know which projects may require Summer Associates until the beginning of the year.

The program runs in the summer months only. Summer Associates work at RAND full-time for a 12-week period. Positions are available in RAND's major U.S. offices — Santa Monica, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, and Boston. All Summer Associates are collocated with project mentors. The location of the project mentor determines the location of the Summer Associate. Students receive bi-weekly compensation and are given the opportunity to conduct research that can be completed during the summer they are at RAND. The summer earnings for 2019 will be approximately $13,500 (before taxes) for the 12 weeks of full-time research.


The program is designed for full-time students who have completed at least two years of graduate work leading to a doctorate (e.g., PhD, EDD, DRPH, SciD, etc.) or professional degree (e.g., law or medical degree, professional engineer certificate). Students must be enrolled full-time in a graduate degree program during the spring and fall of 2019 to be considered for the program. Students graduating prior to September 2019 are encouraged to look at our full-time positions at

U.S. citizenship is not necessary except for positions that require security clearances.

Most of RAND's professional hiring is at the PhD level, so our summer program is oriented toward individuals who are generally within a year or two of completing their doctorates. Exceptions are made for master's students applying for our engineering and computer or information science positions.

Who is not eligible: The program does not hire undergraduates for the summer. Also, those students graduating prior to the summer of employment are not eligible to apply. The program typically does not consider master's degree students except in the Engineering, Computer or Information Science, and Operations Research disciplines. Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible for the summer program.

Structure of the Program

Each Summer Associate is assigned to a research project and is mentored by a senior research staff member—usually one with the same academic background as the Associate. A student is offered a position only after the student and RAND agree that a good match exists between the student's interests and skills and the needs of an ongoing RAND research project.

Past Summer Associates have worked on a wide range of projects. Each student is required to present a seminar at the end of their summer associate experience.

Summer Associates have full access to RAND's research facilities. These include state-of-the-art computer hardware and software, a nationally acclaimed library, an extensive data facility that obtains and maintains research databases, special consulting and training services in computing, statistical analysis, and featured seminar presentations.

Application Process

RAND accepts applications only through our website. Applications mailed directly to RAND or emailed to our Summer Director will not be considered. Current Summer Associate positions include:

  • Policy Research
  • Economics
  • Sociology & Demography
  • Statistics
  • Political Science & History
  • Psychology
  • Engineering, Computer Science, Math, Physical Sciences
  • Operations Research, Ind Eng/Sys Eng, Mgmt Sci, Supply Chain, Risk Analysis

In order to submit a complete application, please be prepared to provide two (2) documents, answer three (3) short answer questions and a few additional program/credential/skills specific questions, as well as provide two (2) references:

  1. Resume or curriculum vitae
  2. Cover Letter
  3. Short answer questions (which will be filled out in the online application, limit 250 words per question):
    1. Briefly describe your substantive interest and past experiences in those areas
    2. Briefly describe your skills and methodological expertise and how you have used those tools in previous research experiences
    3. Briefly describe why you are interested in the RAND Summer Associate Program and what role you see this experience playing in your career development
  4. Two (2) references (name and email address). These references should be professors or advisors familiar with your research work. NOTE: You will be notified prior to references being contacted.

Only one application will be considered per applicant. If there are several positions that are of interest, applicants should choose the position that best matches their background and interest. Applicants whose research background matches multiple positions will be reviewed by all appropriate managers. Submitting more than one application will not increase the chances of being selected.

Applicants will receive an automated email notifying them of their successful submission.

Applications will be reviewed throughout the application period. All applications are due by December 4, 2018. Applicants will be notified of RAND's interest to interview after the application period has ended. You will be contacted directly only if you are selected for interview. Interviews will be conducted in February and March. Offers will be made in March and April.

Frequently Asked Questions Recent Projects Program Brochure (PDF)

Please review the FAQs as they may address most common inquiries. If you have additional questions about the Graduate Student Summer Associate Program, please contact

About RAND

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. As such, it provides a distinctive environment for graduate students.

  • RAND's primary activity is research. The environment provides a rich variety of ongoing studies and an experienced staff of professional researchers with whom associates interact.
  • RAND projects are typically interdisciplinary. Some research projects bring together economists, psychologists, statisticians, and health professionals, for example, whereas others bring together engineers, operations researchers, and students of organizational behavior. Learn more about the RAND environment.