Pre-Doctoral Fellow - University of California, San Diego

  • United States of America
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Start Date (Latest):
Length of Commitment:
One year

Job Description:

Professors Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, and Sandip Sukhtankar seek a qualified applicant for the position of “Pre-doctoral Fellow” based at the University of California, San Diego. The position offers an opportunity to gain first-hand data analysis and data management experience while undertaking cutting-edge development research. The fellow will work on multiple research projects under the Payments and Governance Research Program.


India is on the cusp of the most profound overhaul of its anti-poverty strategy in a generation. This effort, based on universal bank accounts (Jan Dhan), biometric authentication (Aadhaar), and mobile phones (the “JAM” platform), represents a transformational opportunity both to implement existing programs better and also to improve the design of anti-poverty programs with direct transfers in lieu of distortionary price subsidies. It is a top priority for the Government of India at the highest levels and described by the former Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India as “a quiet revolution of social welfare policy.” Yet there are also several challenges that could prevent the JAM platform from delivering its full potential, including implementation challenges, subversion by vested interests, exclusion errors, unexpected perverse consequences, and unknown cost-effectiveness.

The Payments and Governance Research Project is working closely with the Govt. of India to design policy reforms for various subsidy programs and conduct a series of rigorous experimental evaluations of the impact of rolling out these reforms. The experiments are part of a broad vision to propose and evaluate innovative approaches to governance and involve cutting-edge evaluations done on a massive scale and in collaboration with state governments in India.

Pre-doctoral Fellows work principally on writing code to optimize the design of large-scale randomized controlled trials and to analyze and interpret their results. Other tasks such as doing literature reviews and writing policy memos may be assigned according to need and interest. This is a unique position, offering the opportunity to (i) work on tough analytical problems around large-scale randomized evaluations, (ii) hone your data analysis skills, and (iii) prepare for a Ph.D. in quantitative fields such as economics, political science, or statistics.


The Pre-doctoral Fellow will work closely with academic researchers and field staff to perform a variety of tasks including (but not limited to) sampling, randomization, power calculations, data management and analysis.

Qualifications (all required and non-negotiable):

  • A Bachelor's degree in economics, social sciences, public policy, or related fields; Master’s degree a plus
  • Full proficiency in R; experience with Github, Matlab and Python a plus
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Fluency and excellent communication skills in English
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and team player

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select "Pre-Doctoral Fellow at UCSD ” and include a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and two recommendation letters. Note that applications with incomplete submissions will not be considered.

You are able to submit your application before your references complete their recommendation letters; however, you must include their contact information before submitting your application. Given the volume of applications received, only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview.