Graduate Student Summer Associate Program

Colorful abstract line design featuring portraits of six Summer Associates from the 2021 cohort.

Important Application Information

The summer 2024 application period for full consideration is now closed, however RAND is continuing to accept applications until December 11.

Please review program details as they have been updated.

Internship term
12 weeks in the summer (start date flexible)
Current graduate students (2nd year or later) enrolled in doctoral or professional degree program; some exceptions for certain types of master's degrees—see detail below. Residency in the U.S. (excluding U.S. territories) is required for the 2024 program.
Applications due
December 4, 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time
Decisions are generally made by

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

RAND is committed to striving for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Research and analysis is enriched by diversity of talents, experiences, and perspectives. We welcome all applicants, including those who identify as part of historically marginalized groups.

The program receives several hundred applications each year; approximately 40–50 students are placed in each cohort. The selection process matches potential Summer Associates with mentors and projects based on their skills, interests, and expertise. Summer Associates work on currently funded projects that have the capacity to support a Summer Associate's work.

The program runs in the summer months only. Summer Associates work at RAND full-time for a 12-week period. Our summer 2024 program will be a hybrid model including in-person work at one of RAND's four offices with remote flexibility or working fully remote from where you live. Positions will only be available for students residing in the U.S. (excluding U.S. territories) for the duration of the summer associate assignments. 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. 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 2024 will be approximately $14,000 (before taxes) for the 12 weeks of full-time research.

Program Team & Summer Associates

  • Dionne Barnes-Proby, Director
  • Teresa McLemore, Recruiting Manager
  • Sarah Goodin, HR Business Partner
  • Kelcy Luczak, Administrative Assistant
  • Azmun Khan, HR Services Administrative Assistant
  • Kerensa Vallejo, HR Services Administrative Assistant
Meet our 2023 Summer Associates


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 2024 to be considered for the program. Students graduating prior to September 2024 are encouraged to look at our full-time positions at

For the 2024 Summer Program, students must reside in the U.S. throughout their RAND summer assignment. International students who are planning to live in the U.S. during the summer of 2024 are eligible to apply. Any applicant who does not plan to live in the United States during the summer is not eligible for hire in the 2024 cycle.

U.S. citizenship is not necessary except when required for certain types of project work (e.g., the project contract requires it or the project work itself requires a security clearance).

Most of RAND's professional hiring is at the PhD or doctoral 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 high school students, undergraduates, or postdoctoral fellows at this time. Graduate students who will graduate prior to the summer of employment are not eligible. The program typically does not consider master's degree students except in the Engineering, Computer or Information Science, and Operations Research disciplines.

Structure of the Program

Each Summer Associate is matched to a research project and a mentor. 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. Mentors work with students to curate a meaningful, project-based experience that is aligned to the Summer Associate's background and qualifications. Mentors also provide career guidance and facilitate networking with other RAND researchers.

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

The program also provides regular opportunities for Summer Associates to connect and develop relationships with each other, participate in a range of RAND seminars, events, and social activities, and build networking and research skills. This ensures that Summer Associates have an immersive experience that exposes them to what it is like to work at RAND.

Summer Associates also have access to RAND's research facilities as needed to support their project work. RAND provides an array of research support services, including an information infrastructure that facilitates work across multiple locations; highly sophisticated computing software and hardware systems; an extensive data collection facility; schedule management systems for tracking projects; and professional advisory groups that contribute statistical, survey, and communications support to projects; and ongoing research seminar series.

Sample Projects

See more projects summer associates participated in

Application Process & FAQs

RAND accepts applications only through our website. Applications mailed directly to RAND or emailed to our Summer Director will not be considered. Summer Associate applications are organized according to the following categories of graduate training:

In order to submit a complete application, please be prepared to provide the documents and additional information outlined below. If you are selected for an interview, you will be asked to provide two letters of recommendation. The application requires that you identify the individuals who will provide letters of recommendation. Writing samples will not be required at the time of application but may be requested from applicants selected for an interview.

  1. Applicant information (University, Department, Degree program, etc.)
  2. Resume or curriculum vitae
  3. Cover Letter
  4. 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 experience 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
  5. Please be prepared to provide the contact information for two professors or other individuals (their name, their organization, and their email address) familiar with your research work and who would be willing to provide a letter of recommendation. Letters of recommendation will only be requested if an applicant is selected for interview. NOTE: You will be notified before we contact your recommenders.

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.

Applicants will receive an automated email notifying them of their successful submission. Additionally, applicants will receive an immediate task notification via email to complete our Conflict of Interest Disclosure form. The task will be accessible within your applicant account/Candidate Home page.

All applications are due by December 4, 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. Applicants will be notified of RAND's interest in conducting an interview after the application period has ended. You will be contacted directly only if you are selected for an interview. Interviews will be conducted beginning in late January, continuing as late as February and March. Offers are typically extended in late March.

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 Summer Associates interact.

RAND believes that diversity, equity, and inclusiveness enrich the content, accessibility, and practicality of our research and analysis. RAND employees and Pardee RAND graduate students hail from approximately 50 countries and speak 75 different languages. To ensure that RAND research incorporates many perspectives, projects typically include diverse, multidisciplinary teams. 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.

RAND's core research areas include:

Learn More About RAND

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