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PhD | Research Assistantship

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Research assistants (RAs) work on research projects under the supervision of a faculty member. RAships are available only through the request of a faculty member. Research assistants (50% RAship) is offered during academic quarters (Autumn, Winter and Spring) and students receive 8 to 10 units of tuition coverage and a salary in exchange for 20 hours of work per week.

  • Enrollment requirements: Students must enroll in 8-10 units (at least 3 units of CS 499) with their advisor. Some students opt to work fewer hours per week, and their salary and tuition benefits are adjusted accordingly.
  • Summer RA funding and enrollment: Some RA's may receive 90% level support during Summer quarters from their advisor. In this instance, the tuition is covered for 3 units and salary offered is higher in exchange of 36 hours of work per week. This is only allowed in the Summer quarter and is at the discretion of the advisors.
  • Enrollment requirements for Summer with 90% RAship support: Students must enroll in 3 units (at least 1 unit of CS 499) with their advisor.

RA Payroll Information

All student employees must meet several academic requirements before receiving a paycheck. Student employees need to ensure their employment forms are current and on-file with the Payroll Office. Important Note: If any requirements or forms are missing or outdated, your paychecks will be withheld, most likely until the next pay period. 

Any student employee must meet several requirements before receiving a paycheck. You must be registered in any quarter in which you are paid (including Summer), make suitable academic progress, and maintain good standing in the University. Please refer to the Stanford Welcome Center website for additional details and verification instructions.

Stanford Welcome Center

Payroll Process

Assistantship salaries are processed through Stanford's regular Payroll system. Assistants are University employees.

  • Deductions: Federal, state, and social security taxes are withheld from salary checks. This withholding is reported like any other salary. Tuition amounts are not taxable or reported.
  • Schedule: Tuition is automatically paid at the beginning of the quarter.
  • Payroll checks come twice a month to the Department or direct deposit to your bank can be arranged. Work performed from the 1st to 15th of a month is paid on the 22nd; the second half of the month is paid on the 7th.

Student appointments, which are established in terms of the academic year, always follow a quarterly schedule:

QuarterAppointment periodFirst checkLast check
FallOct 1 - Dec 31Oct 22Jan 7
WinterJan 1 - Mar 31Jan 22Apr 7
SpringApr - Jun 30Apr 22July 7
SummerJuly 1 - Sept 30July 22Oct 7

Additional Information

  • What happens if your check doesn't arrive on-time?
    • First, examine your own status. Are you registered? Is there a Hold on your registration? If this is your first check, have you filed all the appropriate paperwork?
    • If you're an RA, the faculty member may have forgotten to initiate or renew your appointment for the quarter. In any event, connect with us via email ( for further support.
  • Tax information for Graduate students: Taxes constitute a complex subject. There is general information found on the Financial Aid website, however, should not be taken as official advice. Detailed information can be found on the IRS website.
  • Tuition support: Tax exempt.
  • Salary (assistantships).
    • Taxable and subject to withholding (but not FICA, Medicare or VDI)
    • Reported by Stanford on a W-2
    • International students May qualify for federal "tax treaty exemption" if one exists between the US and their country (Form 8233, Payroll office). The exempt amount is reported on Form 1042S. Should file federal Form 1040NR (available at the International Center at tax time and online) each year, and probably CA Form 540 (also available online).
  • Stipend (fellowships): U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and resident aliens for tax purposes:
    • The stipend is taxable; however, it is not subject to withholding or reporting by Stanford.
    • Students are responsible for making any necessary estimated tax payments.
    • Federal Form 1040-ES is available in the Bursar's office. California Form 540-ES is enclosed with the CA tax return (or call 1-800-338-0505).
  • International students.
    • The stipend is subject to 14 percent withholding; however, students may be eligible for a tax exemption if their country has a tax treaty with the US (Form W-8Ben, Payroll office).
    • Stipend and tax withholding are reported by Stanford on Form 1042-S (not W-2) and mailed to the student Should file federal tax Form 1040NR and probably CA Form 540 at tax time each year.
    • All fellowship recipients can reduce their taxable income by amounts spent on fees, books, supplies, and equipment (usually not computers) specifically required for courses; students should keep all receipts for these items.