Research associates are scholars and professionals that usually have an advanced degree beyond a master's degree. A research associate is an employee of the university or a research institute, and may be eligible to receive university/federal benefits. The research associate position does not explicitly require mentoring and is a regular staff position with appointment letters processed by Human Resources. In contrast to a research assistant, a research associate often has a graduate degree, such as a master's (e.g. Master of Science) or in some cases Master of Engineering or a doctoral degree (e.g. Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Pharmacy). In some cases it can be synonymous with postdoctoral research.