10.3 Graduate Student Researcher Appointments

Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) is often referred to as Research Assistant at other universities. GSRs are supported by a faculty member or authorized Principal Investigator, to perform research work that fulfills part of their degree requirements for the MS and PhD degrees.


The duties of a GSR vary according to who your research advisor or Principal Investigator is and the chosen field of study. Some research advisors will give complete instructions with lots of detail about what they want. Others may give a general direction to "work on this" with no other instruction unless you ask. In some cases, students may spend their first year developing presentations from coursework or from research literature and will only begin hands-on work after they have gained considerable background. In experimental work, GSRs may become more involved in the research projects sooner.


During the period of appointment the student must:
• Have a GPA of at least 3.0
• Have no more than 2 Incompletes in upper division or graduate level courses

• Not be on probation or in lapsed candidacy status unless granted an exception
• Be registered and enrolled in a minimum of 15 units (except summer)


Most GSRs are paid from faculty grants. If the appointment meets certain criteria, a portion, or all, of the student's fees will be paid for.  This benefit is called a fee remission. In addition, GSRs with appointments that are at least 45 percent time may be eligible for coverage of their non-resident tuition through tuition remission.

In order to receive a fee remission, the semester appointment must be at least for 25 percent or more time for the entire semester. For your convenience, details about fee remissions are available in a print-friendly format: Download/Print


GSRs earn wage increases when they have passed their preliminary examinations and when they advance to doctoral candidacy. The normal salary steps for students in our department are the following:


• Entering Students: Step IV

• Students who have passed the Preliminary Exam: Step V

• Student who passed the Qualifying Exam: Step VI

The current GSR Salary Scale can be found here


If you are a GSR in the Department of Mechanical Engineering most employment forms are processed through the Organized Research Unit (ORU) in which the Principal Investigator's (PI's) funds are held. These are usually paid from outside funding such as research grants. Your hiring faculty will direct you to the hiring unit where you will complete these hiring forms. The most common ORUs are:


 Campus Shared Services Team 2 (formerly called ERSO), 199M Cory

 Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), 253 Cory

 Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), 108B McLaughlin Hall


For more information about GSR appointments, please visit the following page: https://grad.berkeley.edu/financial/appointments/handbook/#stepsgsar