AAMC Graduate Student Survey

IDP Quick Survey – Are Graduate Assistants at Private Universities “Students” or “Employees”? 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is seeking input from the Graduate Research, Education and Training (GREAT) Group (currently chaired by UF’s Dr. Wayne McCormack) about the issue of whether graduate assistants at private universities have a primarily educational, not economic, relationship with their university.  This is related to a current National Labor Relations Board case involving the issue of whether graduate student assistants who attend private universities, including those engaged in research funded by external grants, are “employees” entitled to collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act.   The AAMC is seeking information to determine whether they should file an amicus brief with the NLRB.  For more background information please see:


The NLRB, for many years, had ruled that graduate student assistants are primarily students and not employees under the Act.  In 2000, a case involving NYU, the NLRB reversed that precedent and ruled that, except for research assistants funded by external grants, graduate student assistants, at private universities, were employees under the Act because they perform services under the control and direction of the university in exchange for compensation.  In 2004, a case involving Brown University, the NLRB returned to its long-standing precedent and once again ruled that graduate student assistants were not “employees” under the Act and that imposing collective bargaining rights would have a deleterious impact on overall educational decisions by university faculty and administration.

Because this case could directly affect the relationship between AAMC institutions and their students who are pursuing Ph.D degrees or joint M.D.-Ph.D degrees, the AAMC is asking for input on whether to participate as amici in support of retaining current law that such individuals are primarily students and therefore not “employees” under the Act.

Although we are not a private institution, our students and faculty might have an opinion they are willing to share about this topic.  If so, please answer the following questions by Friday, July 13.  Thank you.

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