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Research Staff

Research staff appointments are approved by the Faculty Affairs Office. The Office for Research (Research Administrative Services) maintains relevant policy governing these appointments.

Research Staff Titles

Research Associate
Clinical Research Associate
Senior Research Associate
Senior Clinical Research Associate
Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow (non-exempt, paid hourly wage)
Research Specialist (non-exempt, paid hourly wage)

View position descriptions and minimum salary requirements.


Appointment Term Length

  • Standard appointment term length is one year
  • If the proposed appointment is less than one year, written justification is required to (1) explain the need for the short term and (2) confirm that upon conclusion of the short term, the employee will either be reappointed for a full year or terminated
  • If the proposed appointment is longer than one year, written justification is required to (1) explain the reason for the longer term and (2) confirm that funding is guaranteed for the duration of the appointment. The maximum term length is three years.


  • Minimum salary/wage requirements are specified on the Office for Research (Research Administrative Services) website. For convenience, they are repeated here and not intended to override information from the Office for Research. If you notice a discrepancy between the salary/wage information on this page and the Office for Research website, please contact
  • Exempt positions: The minimum salary for individuals appointed to any of the research associate titles is $47,476. Northwestern University classifies them as exempt employees and they must be paid this minimum whether they are part-time or full-time status.
  • Non-exempt positions: Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellows and Research Specialists must earn at least the local minimum wage ($15.80/hour) and are eligible for overtime. 

Appointment Transactions (submitted via OnBase)

  • Submit requests at least 3 weeks before the effective date. You may be asked to resubmit with a revised effective date if there is not sufficient time for appointment processing.
  • If the candidate has a visa, write "VISA" in two places: (1) at the top of the first page of appointment packet, and (2) in the Comments and Notes section of the OnBase submission form. 
  • Do not contact FAO for status updates or appointment letters unless more than 3 weeks have passed since you submitted a correct and complete request (i.e., if an OnBase transaction is rejected and you need to resubmit, the 3-week timeline begins at the time FAO receives your resubmission). 
  • Recognize that transactions route through multiple offices, and approval by FAO does not mean that a request is fully processed. View OnBase Routing Workflows for more information.