Senior Policy Associate - J-PAL Global

J-PAL Global
  • United States of America
  • Bachelor's
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:
Two years

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of over 200 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty.

The Policy & Communications Group plays a key role in translating research by J-PAL affiliates into actionable poverty alleviation policies around the world. Staff connect the dots between economics and policy and are passionate about working with organizations to form partnerships for evidence-informed development policy. 

J-PAL is recruiting Senior Policy Associates to contribute to its mission of promoting evidence-informed policy. The position will be based in Cambridge, MA, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Visa sponsorship is not available for this position. Only applications following all instructions at the bottom of this page will be considered.

J-PAL values diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work, and we value the perspectives our staff bring to their roles and to the broader J-PAL community. We encourage people of color, first generation college graduates, and those identifying as LGBTQIA+ and/or members of other underrepresented groups to apply to this role. In your cover letter, please consider sharing how your racial, gender, socioeconomic, and/or other identity has influenced your drive and desire to work at J-PAL (this is entirely optional, just an opportunity for us to get to know you a bit better). Learn more about J-PAL's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Your work provides the foundation and direction for J-PAL’s growing policy efforts. As a Senior Policy Associate, your primary tasks will involve communication, analysis, and specialization. We look for Senior Associates to take on more responsibilities and leadership on their teams and discrete projects over time at J-PAL. We look for staff to demonstrate leadership abilities and interest, and portfolio assignments are based on prior experience.

Evidence Communication and Dissemination (40%): Write publications that “translate” economic research into lessons for policymakers around the world. Senior Associates will have the opportunity to support senior staff to create materials for policy outreach, including publications, evaluation summaries, presentations, grant proposals, policy memos, blogs, social media content and newsletters and website content among other sector-specific work. Senior Associates have the opportunity to help organize events and further their communication skills by presenting at conferences and participating in meetings with policymakers and partner organizations. Senior Associates also have the opportunity to work with senior staff on specific research tasks, and are expected to see these projects through from start to finish with limited supervision.

Topic Specialization (35%): Develop in-depth knowledge of one or more of J-PAL’s sectors (Agriculture, Crime, Violence, & Conflict, Education, Environment, Energy, & Climate Change, Finance, Firms, Gender, Health, Labor Markets, Social Protection, and Political Economy & Governance) and provide evidence support to policymakers. Senior policy associates may also have the opportunity to support and manage the administration of a sector-specific, ongoing competitive research fund by processing grant proposals, coordinating with researchers, and supporting partnership development between implementing groups and research affiliates to spark new research projects.   

Other (25%): Have the opportunity to support J-PAL’s overall mission in a number of ways. These can include performing internal tasks such as knowledge management, supporting recruitment and hiring, supporting work on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and undertaking professional development opportunities. Associates may also serve as liaisons between J-PAL Global and one of J-PAL’s regional offices covering Africa, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, support cost-effectiveness analyses, or assist with other broad J-PAL projects.

Professional Development

The Policy & Communications Group invests in your professional development. As a Senior Policy Associate, you will learn, engage, travel, and grow.

Learn: J-PAL supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly MIT–Harvard Development Seminars and take classes for credit with MIT’s generous tuition assistance program. All J-PAL staff are also eligible to take the innovative online MITx MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) free of charge.

Engage: Senior Associates have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliated researchers, as well as interact with J-PAL’s partners, including decision-makers and practitioners, alongside senior staff. As core content creators, Senior Associates’ publications are distributed to development stakeholders worldwide.

Travel: Senior Associates have the opportunity to present at J-PAL’s regional offices, attend policy events worldwide, and participate in a unique “Associate-to-Field” international experience supporting on-the-ground research during their time at J-PAL.

Grow: Senior Associates can expect to join a peer group eager to build institutional knowledge and pass on lessons learned. Senior Associates receive one-on-one mentorship from senior staff. Promotions to Policy Manager are based on performance, ability, and educational qualifications.


As a member of the MIT community, you benefit from more than just your salary.

J-PAL hires highly qualified staff and rewards them accordingly. Total compensation packages are competitive for the non-profit international development field with excellent MIT benefits, including comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match and pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance, commuter benefits, MIT community discounts, a generous vacation policy, and more. We like working at MIT and think you will too. J-PAL also values work-life balance and offers flexible work arrangements when able. 


Your technical expertise, strong communication and organizational skills, passion for translating research into action, and interest in international development make you an ideal candidate for Senior Policy Associate.

Education: You hold a bachelor’s (master’s preferred) with significant training in economics, including intermediate-level economics and econometrics. Do you have a demonstrated academic interest in international development and public policy and/or international experience? Even better.

Experience: Up to four years of relevant work experience. Do you have less than two years of relevant experience? Consider applying for our Policy Associate position instead.

Skills: You are comfortable working in or learning computer applications, including Google Suite, Salesforce, and Foundation Connect. English language fluency is required. Knowledge of Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, French, Portuguese, Spanish, or other languages spoken in our regions of work are a plus.

Communication: You are detail-oriented and have advanced writing skills. You understand how to communicate policy lessons from technical academic research in ways that policymakers and practitioners understand. You are precise, clear, and creative.

Organization: You are a strategic thinker. You can handle multiple projects at once, meet deadlines, and effectively manage your time with little direct supervision.

Cultural competencies: You are comfortable and adept at working in a diverse and multicultural work environment, with colleagues, partners and policymakers from around the world. You display sensitivity, adaptability, and inclusivity in your engagement with people from diverse backgrounds including age, ability, culture, gender, nationality, race and ethnicity, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and other identities. We appreciate candidates who have familiarity with concepts and frameworks such as racial equity or gender analyses.

Attitude: You love learning. You are passionate about international development policy and the rigorous research that informs it. You are agile, adaptable, self-motivated, hard-working, and collaborative.

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Apply now.

Applications are due on January 8, 2023 at 11:59 PM ET. Late applications will not be considered. Given the large volume of applications we receive, only the first 200 eligible applications (combined for both Senior Policy Associates and Policy Associates) are guaranteed to be considered, after which, additional applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as needed. For this reason, we encourage applicants to apply early.

We will also host virtual a Recruitment Webinar on Monday, December 5, 2022 at 4pm US ET via Zoom. Please register for the webinar at this link. During the webinar, we will discuss what we do at J-PAL, the Policy Associate positions, and the recruitment timeline, process, and application requirements. We will also leave time for questions. If you cannot attend the webinar, a recording will be available here.

All candidates must apply through the MIT human resources system (details below) and must submit our Google Form. MIT does not sponsor visas for this position. Candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States for a minimum of two years (an exception to this rule is possible for candidates with at least one year authorization in the US, plus one year authorization in one of our regional office countries and a willingness to relocate to a regional office after one year working at our Global office at MIT).

To apply, first please submit a short application via MIT’s human resources system. Visit, search for job ID 22139(Senior Policy Associate - J-PAL Global) and complete an application. 

  1. Please upload a single PDF document of the following components into the “Resume” field on the MIT portal. 
    1. Cover letter (outlining why you are interested in J-PAL Global and why you are qualified for this role)
    2. Resume/CV
    3. Transcripts (unofficial transcripts accepted)
  2. Second, please complete this Google Form
    1. The form will ask you questions about your qualifications. 
    2. You will also be asked to submit your cover letter, resume, and transcripts as a combined PDF through this form, as you did in the MIT system. 

Note: Incomplete applications will not be considered; please be sure to include all three components (cover letter, resume, transcripts) in a single PDF in the “Resume” field on MIT’s human resources system, and complete the Google Form. If you experience technical difficulties preventing you from applying, please email [email protected] for assistance.

Please only apply to the J-PAL Global Senior Policy Associate position (MIT job ID 22139) or the J-PAL Global Policy Associate position (MIT job ID 22139). Should you fit the profile for another level for which we are recruiting based on your experience and education, we will discuss this with you during the interview process, so you do not need to apply to both levels of the same position. 

Process after applying:

The recruitment process can last 4 months from when the posting closes. Short-listed applicants will first be asked to complete a writing and technical exercise, and then a potential Skype interview. Finalists will be called for an extended interview. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we will not be able to follow up individually with all applicants. 

For applicants who successfully advance to the final stage, we will request two recommendation letters in addition to a request for references, but please note that these letters are encouraged but not required (academic or professional)

For more information about working at J-PAL, please visit this webpage or our FAQ page.

MIT is an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, or national or ethnic origin.