FAQs for Graduate Student Researchers

What is a Graduate Student Researcher?
A GSR is a graduate student who is engaged in or assisting in research projects. GSRs perform research broadly related to their degree programs in an academic department or research unit under the direction of a faculty member or authorized Principal Investigator. GSRs may or may not collaborate in the publication of research as determined by the faculty member directing the work. GSRs may not be assigned teaching, administrative, or general assistance duties. This is not intended to exclude research-related duties such as quantitative analysis, bibliographic searches or summaries, text editing, lab projects, computer programming, and a reasonable amount of lab maintenance and cleaning.
How can I be hired as a Graduate Student Researcher?
Once a faculty member has decided to hire you as a GSR, he or she must fill out a Google Form that is updated every semester on our Graduate Student Hiring webpage. Please note that you must also meet all the eligibility criteria listed in order to be hired.
I’ve been hired as a GSR. When can I start working?
If you’re a new employee or have had a break in service for more than 1 month, you need to schedule and attend an onboarding session with Berkeley Regional Services to have your I-9 documents verified. Info about signing up can be found in the DocuSign packets you’ll receive via email after submitting your signed GSR Appointment Form to Human Resources. You may start working as soon as you finish the onboarding.
How will I get paid?
GSRs are automatically paid a fixed monthly salary based on your % time. You do not need to use CalTime or timesheets to record your hours, and your paycheck will be deposited into your designated direct deposit bank account. Your first paycheck may arrive as a paper check, but your subsequent paychecks will be automatically deposited into your direct deposit bank account.
How do I set up direct deposit?
You can set up your direct deposit information in your UCPath portal. Select “Employee Actions” on the left sidebar, “Income and Taxes,” and “Direct Deposit.” Please note that your first paycheck may arrive as a paper check, as all direct deposit changes may take up to one month to reflect.
Can I receive units instead of pay?
Yes! To receive units instead of pay for your research work, contact your registrar’s office. Please note that you can only receive either units or pay and not a combination of both for a single appointment. If you have already been hired as a GSR with pay, but would like to receive units instead, please contact both the registrar’s office and the Law HR department to make the change. *Please note that LLM students are not eligible to receive units for GSR work.
How many hours am I supposed to be working each week?
A 100% appointment equates to a 40-hour work week for the semester. The % time you’ve been appointed at will be proportional to this rate. For example, a 10% appointment is equivalent to working 4 hours each week. GSRs are not permitted to work over 50% time each week or more than 8 hours a day.
Why does my GSR appointment say “Partial Fee Remission” even though I’m under 24% time?
All GSRs appointed at 44% time or below share a title code that says “Partial Fee Remission” but the fee remission does not actually generate unless you are working at 24% time or more. See the Fee Remission Eligibility guide for more info.
What salary scale step am I appointed at?
All GSRs in Law are appointed at Step 1.
Other departments have hired me as a GSR step higher than 1. Can Law match my other salary scale?
The step at which a GSR is hired is specific to the department. It is possible that other departments have multiple salary scales for their graduate students, who may be working for the 6-8 years it takes them to earn their PhD; however, since Law primarily hires 2L and 3L students, we have not made a distinction for students who will be working for just 1-2 years as a 2L and/or 3L until earning their degree.
Where can I find copies of my paystubs, see my W2, or obtain Employment Verification?
You can find all those documents (and more) through At Your Service Online for employment prior to March 2019. You may need to click the “New User and don’t have a password” link if you have not accessed this portal before. For employment starting during or after March 2019, you can find these documents in your UCPath portal.
What if I have multiple appointments?
It is important that you notify your supervisors of your other existing appointments, as it may significantly impact their budgets due to Fee Remissions. According to Berkeley Graduate Division Graduate Student Academic Appointment Handbook, when a student has multiple GSI, GSR, AI-GS, Reader or Tutor appointments totaling 25% time or more (i.e., reaches the required number of possible working hours in a semester), a fee remission will generate and all the appointments’ chartstrings will be charged for the cost of fee remission divided proportionately according to the appointment percentages. Multiple GSI, GSR, AI-GS, Reader or Tutor appointments may combine to create a fee remission regardless of each individual appointment’s percent time being below the 25% requirement.
If you have additional questions, please contact Kevin Kim at kim_kevin721@berkeley.edu.