Summer Associate FAQs

What should I expect from my experience?

The program is designed to provide each summer associate with real-world policy research experience and mentorship from senior RAND researchers. Each summer associate is matched with currently funded project(s) and mentor(s), based on educational background, skills and experience, and available project needs. The mentor(s) and summer associate work together to design an experience where the summer associate spends the summer contributing to the larger, ongoing research project(s).

During the summer associate assignment, students work with their project teams, attend seminars and functions that are open to all RAND staff, participate in workshops, and have the opportunity to network with other RAND researchers. At the end of the summer, students are expected to deliver a short presentation that summarizes their research findings. Students leave with a better understanding of RAND's research process, along with practical project work that will contribute to the summer associate's job experience.

What can I expect with a remote/virtual summer associate assignment at RAND?

Many aspects of the summer associate program will remain the same. You will be assigned a mentor who will meet with you regularly and facilitate collaboration with your project team. You will have the opportunity to engage with other summer associates, attend seminars and virtual workplace events, participate in workshops, and have the opportunity to network with RAND researchers. At the end of the summer, students will be expected to deliver a short virtual presentation that summarizes their research findings. We strive to ensure a productive and meaningful experience whether in-person or virtual, and we successfully implemented a remote/virtual program in summer 2020.

There are several positions that match my background and interests. Should I apply to all relevant positions?

No, you should choose the one position that best matches your background and interests. Only one application will be considered per applicant. If there are several positions that are of interest, applicants should choose the one position that best matches their background and interest. Submitting more than one application will not increase the chances of being selected as one application will be randomly withdrawn. Thus it is best to highlight all relevant strengths in a single application.

Are letters of reference required?

Yes, you will be asked to provide the name, organization, and email address of two references when you complete your online application. These individuals should be professors or advisors familiar with your research work. NOTE: You will be notified prior to references being contacted.

Will I be paid during my Summer Associate internship?

Yes, students receive bi-weekly compensation for the hours that they work. Compensation is competitive with other research fellowships. The summer earnings for 2021 will be approximately $13,500 (before taxes) for 12 weeks of full-time research.

What qualifications are needed to be eligible for the Summer Associate program?

The program is designed for full-time graduate students who have completed at least two years of work that will lead to a doctorate (e.g., PhD, EDD, DRPH, SciD, etc.) or professional degree (e.g., law or medical degree, professional engineer certificate). The program typically does not consider master's degree students except in the engineering, computer or information science, and operations research disciplines. Students must be currently enrolled full-time in a graduate degree program (i.e., are not eligible if they have fulfilled all degree requirements).

**Please Note: Exceptions are occasionally made for first year PhD students if they have significant research experience or prior graduate work. In specific circumstances (e.g., in fields such as computer science), students pursuing a master's degree may be considered. Potential applicants who are unsure of their eligibility may apply, but we recommend in this case that you reach out to the Summer Associate program well in advance of the application deadline with a paragraph describing your qualifications to assist the director in determining your eligibility. Exceptions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Does RAND offer any undergraduate internships?

No, RAND only offers graduate-level research internships.

Does RAND offer Summer Associate positions for students who have completed their graduate work?

No, Summer Associate positions are for current graduate students. Researchers who have completed their degree are encouraged to apply for a full-time position at or can learn more about our postdoctoral fellowship opportunities at

I am on a student visa and require work authorization to work in the United States. Does RAND offer any visa assistance?

Yes, RAND will work with the student to provide appropriate documentation for the student's International Office at their university to ensure proper work authorization is obtained if a position is offered.

How competitive is the RAND Summer Associate program?

Approximately 35–45 Summer Associates enroll in the program each year. Typically we receive more than 400 applications for these positions.

How long is the Summer Associate program and when does it start?

The program is typically 12 weeks of full-time research (8 hours per day, 5 days per week). There is some flexibility in start and end dates for each student, but the program must be completed between May and October. Shorter assignments are possible on a case-by-case basis; in these cases compensation is pro-rated to reflect time worked. The minimum length for the program is 10 weeks.

Will I propose my own project to complete during the Summer Associate experience?

No. Potential mentors with currently funded projects will select Summer Associates whose interests, expertise, and skills align with their project. Summer Associates will work together with their mentor to refine the role and project work that they will complete over the summer. Working on currently funded projects allows Summer Associates to learn about what it's like to work at RAND and to integrate with RAND project teams.

Will I find out about the project and mentor I'm matched with before I need to make a decision?

Yes! Students whose applications are under consideration will be contacted for a phone or video interview. During the interview(s) you will meet your potential mentor(s), learn about the project(s) you've been matched with, and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Where are the Summer Associate openings located?

For summer 2021 the RAND Summer Associate program will be a remote/virtual program.

Positions will be available for remote workers residing in the U.S. (excluding U.S. territories) for the duration of virtual summer associate assignments. When the program proceeds in person, positions are typically available in RAND's major U.S. offices — Santa Monica, CA; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh, PA; and Boston, MA. Office placement decisions depend on the availability of in-person mentorship.

Will I have the opportunity to meet with other Summer Associates during the summer?

Yes! Summer Associates will have the opportunity to interact professionally and socially.

Is relocation assistance provided to students?

In 2021 the program will proceed in a remote/virtual model, so no relocation assistance will be provided.

When the program is implemented with an in-person model, travel assistance to and from your summer associate assignment will be provided to eligible students. In this case, RAND will pay transportation costs for one (1) round-trip from your home institution to the RAND office you have been assigned to if you presently live outside the local area.

Does RAND provide any assistance with housing to students during their summer associate assignment?

Students are responsible for securing their own housing as well as the cost of housing while in the program. If the program is implemented with an in-person model, RAND provides some local housing information to assist students in their housing search.

Please contact if you have additional questions about the Graduate Student Summer Associate Program.