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Opportunity for USA Doctoral Students to Participate in a Research Program in the Field of Criminal Justice

Research Assistantship Program (RAP)


GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
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Geographic Focus

Important Dates
Deadline: 12/19/23 11:59 PM ET Save

Grant Description
Opportunity for USA doctoral students to participate in a research program related to the field of criminal justice. This professional development program enables full-time research assistants to gain valuable applied and practical experience and receive funding for their salaries, health insurance, and tuition remission. Research assistants work primarily at the NIJ office in Washington, D.C. Candidates must be working towards a doctoral degree throughout the research assistantship period of performance.

The NIJ Research Assistantship Program (RAP) offers highly qualified doctoral students the opportunity to bring their expertise to NIJ to work across offices and program areas to obtain a practical and applied research experience. The RAP is a research focused professional development opportunity for doctoral students. We welcome students from all academic disciplines to apply who wish to connect their research to the criminal justice field. This unique assistantship is an opportunity to learn and contribute to the breadth and depth of science research in which NIJ engages. NIJ provides funds to participating universities to pay salaries and other costs associated with research assistants who work on NIJ research activities.

Research assistants perform a range of research-related duties and must work effectively as part of a larger research team. Research assistants plan and schedule their work based on defined objectives, tasks and priorities with the review and approval of the RAP manager, relevant NIJ staff and the university’s Graduate Program Director.

The research assistant works in Washington, D.C. as a key component of the assistance is collaborating and networking with NIJ and other federal staff in the Capitol Region area. Research assistants may use the funds they receive from their educational institutions through the RAP to pay themselves a salary to cover the cost of living in Washington, D.C.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, research assistants may work remotely until onsite working at NIJ has resumed.

If NIJ specifically requests that a research assistant participate in trainings, conferences or similar activities that have associated costs, NIJ, in its discretion, will provide an amount for NIJ- approved costs of participation with university approval. This may include transportation (airfare, train, taxi, or mileage), lodging, per diem for meals and incidentals, and registration fees, which will be in line with federal regulations.

For information about Research Assistantship Duties and Responsibilities, see the Full Grant Text RFP.


Additional Eligibility Criteria
When considering applying, please keep in mind the following qualifications:
- University enrollment. Candidates must be enrolled in a research-based doctoral-degree program at an accredited public or private U.S. university. Universities should contact the RAP manager to determine if they qualify for program participation.
- Degree program. Candidates must be working towards a doctoral degree throughout the research assistantship period of performance. Degree programs include Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.), Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.) and Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.).
- Reasoning ability. Research assistants must be able to work independently, accurately, and in a timely manner.
- Communication skills. Candidates should have the ability to communicate orally and in writing to prepare comprehensive research reports, proposals, and evaluations, and to make recommendations to accomplish and enhance project objectives.
- Certifications, licenses and registrations. Human Subjects Protection training is required. Accepted research assistants will be provided the training through the Office of Justice Programs.
- Background check. Successful completion and approval of all required U.S. Department of Justice profile and prescreening paperwork, security reviews, and background investigations (such as credit and criminal investigations) are required.
- Citizenship. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or a permanent U.S. resident.

Moving expenses incurred as part of relocating to the Washington, D.C., area are not reimbursable.

Pre-Application Information
Applications are due to NIJ by December 19, 2023, 11:59 pm ET.

Universities recommend doctoral students for selection to research assistant positions supported by NIJ. The university’s recommendation(s) must be submitted by the Graduate Program Director to the NIJ RAP manager.

Number of Grants
Please note that NIJ determines the number, type and length of research assistantships that it will support, if any, based on the quality of applications, NIJ research priorities and the availability of funds.

Estimated Size of Grant
NIJ and each participating university establish an agreement through which NIJ provides funds to pay research assistants’ salaries, health insurance and tuition remission (via a memorandum of understanding and inter-agency or cooperative agreement).

The provision and amount of these funds are determined by the university’s standard practice for similarly situated graduate research assistants whose work is performed at the university.

The cost of tuition remission is calculated based on the university’s standard tuition (such as in-state rates for public schools) per credit hour. There are maximum amounts for tuition remission:
- Up to 20 credits per academic year for full-time graduate research assistants who work for NIJ during the academic year only.
- Up to 24 credits per calendar year for full-time graduate research assistants who work for NIJ throughout the calendar year.

Term of Contract
NIJ is accepting applications for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Research assistantship appointments last for one year, following the home university's academic calendar. There is the possibility of reappointment depending on mid-year reviews, funding availability, and agreements between NIJ and the research assistant’s university.

Research assistants normally are full-time graduate research assistants nominated by their universities and approved by NIJ. They normally work 20 to 30 hours per week (based on university policy) under a 9.5- or 12-month appointment, as applicable. The number of hours worked each week will depend on university policy. If funding is available, research assistants may work full time up to 40 hours per week during university breaks in the fall, winter, spring and summer (with the NIJ RAP manager’s and the university’s prior approval).

Contact Information
The Graduate Program Director may submit multiple student application packets to

Any questions should be directed to NIJ's RAP manager at the email address above.

US Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
810 7th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20531

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