Become a Research Assistant

Join the Boston College Canine Cognition Center as a research assistant. Contribute to data collection, lead your own projects, and learn the hidden curriculum of academia. As of February 28th, 2022, our application is closed. Use the form above to subscribe for updates regarding future application cycles. 

Semester Assistantships


Boston College undergraduates only for semester cycles. Non-BC students, apply in the summer (REU only).

Paid assistantship OR class credit 

5 to 10 hours of weekly, in-person, work

Weekly lab meetings (prep required)


Application closes Sunday, first week of classes

Interview invitations are sent during the second week of classes. 

Final decisions are sent by the third week of classes


We are a small lab and are only able to take a small number of students. If you are not accepted this semester, we encourage you to try again! Owing to COVID and space restrictions, we no longer have open lab meetings. We may make exceptions for particularly interested students.

Academia is full of rules, expectations, and cultural norms that are difficult to learn if one does not have access to particular resources. This leads to the exclusion of certain groups, particularly low-income, first-generation, or POC students. As a lab that studies the evolution of learning and teaching, we are particularly passionate about increasing accessibility to higher learning. We do this by providing a student-centered approach to mentorship, carefully guiding our students through all aspects of research and academia.

Please note that our application and interview cycle is early, with application deadlines in November for the Spring semester, in February for the Summer semester, and in September for the Fall semester. Please check this page for application openings.  

Summer Assistantships

REU Internship: Non-BC Students

The REU summer internship is conducted in collaboration with the Boston College Developmental Psychology program. We are one of four participating labs hosting the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates summer internship*. When applying through REU, you are applying to work with one of the four amazing labs in the BC Developmental Psych program. 

Position Description“Summer interns will gain hands-on experience in all aspects of socio-cognitive developmental psychology research while also participating in professional development meetings and learning computer programming. This is an excellent program for students who want to learn more about research, who may be interested in pursuing graduate school.”

Position Details

  • REU internships are reserved for students who are first-generation, veterans, or from historically underrepresented groups. 
  • Students must be enrolled in an accredited, American undergraduate program
  • Students must be rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors
  • HOURS: Full-time for 10 weeks starting in June and continuing through August.
  • COMPENSATION: $600 per week
  • HOUSING: Fully covered on-campus housing

There are four participating developmental psychology labs. Students will be accepted to primarily work within one of these labs for the duration of the summer.  Learn about our collaborators here: http://www.bccooperationlab.com/reu


1. Complete REU application

2. Email resume or CV to allbcdev@gmail.com

*All funding is pending official award notification for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site Grant.

Dog Lab Summer Internship: BC Students Only

By applying to the Dog Lab summer internship, you are applying to work with our team directly. If you are eligible to apply to the REU internship, you may apply to both the REU and the Dog Lab summer programs. Students from previous semesters are not auto-enrolled into the summer internship – all who are interested must apply. 

Position Details

  • PAID: Amount determined by lab funds.
  • HOURS: 40hrs/week for 10 weeks starting in June and continuing through August.
  • In-person: Housing is not provided — you are expected to find housing using your stipend.

How to write an essay for the BC Dog Lab

Advice on Applying to the BCCC

What do we look for in an applicant?
Academic curiosity is one of the main things we look for in a potential research assistant. Research requires creativity and a desire to understand what’s going on around you. Experience is not a priority. Excitement about knowledge and exploration is.

If you’re a student with limited research experience, how do you demonstrate academic curiosity?

Read the work listed on our research page. You may not fully understand everything you read, but that’s okay. Expressing curiosity about the topics that confuse you is an important part of being a scientist. If you get ideas while you read, regardless of whether or not you’re sure it’s a “good” idea, it’s worth presenting those ideas in your application. We want to know what is exciting to you. Generating ideas is a sign of a scientific mind.

What makes for a good essay?
We want to understand why you specifically want to work with us. What makes you curious about the research we do? What excites you about dog cognition research? What are your motivations for doing research and why would work with our lab help you in particular?

We want to understand you as a potential teammate and researcher. How do you work with others and what kind of questions do you have?

Remember that your essay is one of the only things we will learn about many of our applicants. Give us the opportunity to get to know you.

How long should my essay be?
Essays should be only as long as they need to be. Think about the ideas you want to get across, the things about you that you want your reader to know, and that will determine how long your essay will be.

REU Clarifications

Each lab has a slightly different process by which they choose to read applications. The dog lab only reviews those that mark us as their first choice. When composing an essay we recommend having specific research questions that show why you want to work with our team and study dogs.

Prospective PhDs

See Angie’s website for advice on becoming a competitive Ph.D. candidate for our lab and on applying to our graduate program. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Johnston’s website displaying some of her advice. 

If you are interested in applying to be a Ph.D. student in my lab this application cycle, I highly recommend that you reach out to me via email to let me know you’re interested so I can (a) let you know whether it makes sense for you to apply this cycle and (b) make sure to look for your application. Even if you do not currently have the research experience necessary to have a competitive Ph.D. application I may be able to direct you to other opportunities (e.g., lab coordinator positions) that would give you the opportunity to gain the research experience necessary to apply to the Ph.D. program. (See the section below on “For students interested in applying in future application cycles” to see the sort of background I recommend students gain before applying to work as a Ph.D. student in my lab). In your email please let me know (1) that you’ve found this webpage, (2) what your research background is, and (3) what sort of research you’re interested in conducting with me as a Ph.D. student so I can determine your fit for the lab. Please also attach a CV! (For help on developing a CV you can look at this website and you can look at the CV I used to apply to graduate school as a sample). I am open to discussing the possibility of working with applicants on an NSF GRFP if you reach out to me by mid-August. Know that a GRFP is not at all necessary for applying to our graduate program and that it will take a lot of your time. However, if you happen to have the time during the application cycle it is a good way for us to get to know each other and hone in on a research idea together.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email