Evaluating Social Programs Online Course 2020

Zoom Webinar (Timezone: IST)


CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia is offering an online training course on Evaluating Social Programs. Modeled after our in-person course, Executive Education: Evaluating Social Programs, this five-day virtual training program is designed to provide development practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and students with an introduction to why and how randomized evaluations can be used to rigorously measure impact for better development outcomes.

This online course offers participants a clear understanding of the merits of conducting randomized evaluations in development research, when researchers and policymakers might choose to conduct them, and how these evaluations are designed for real-world settings. The course will cover the basics of measuring impact through randomized evaluations as well as discuss technical design choices and other pragmatic considerations when conducting a randomized study. It will also cover tools that are critical for all program evaluations—needs assessment, a Theory of Change, and how to measure outcomes effectively.

Lectures will be led by J-PAL affiliated professors and senior J-PAL South Asia training staff. The webinars  will also explore context-specific case studies through more focused, interactive discussions with J-PAL South Asia staff and other participants, providing opportunities to forge connections with peers. Immediately following the sessions, J-PAL South Asia staff will be available for TA office hours from 6:30 to 7:00pm IST. 

Course participants are strongly encouraged to commit to attending all five sessions to gain a comprehensive overview of randomized evaluations.

Apply here. Deadline for submissions is August 16, 2020.

Course Content

Day 1: Introduction to Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and Theory of Change

September 14, 16:30 – 18:30 (Time Zone IST), 07:00 – 09:00 (Time Zone EDT)
This lecture will provide an introduction to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in development research, including the types of questions we can answer through impact evaluations and how we can ensure that these evaluations are based on robust Theories of Change. The session will also involve small-group discussions which the objective will be to think through the Theory of Change of a particular program.

Format: Lecture + Case Study Discussion
Speakers: Megha Pradhan, Senior Policy Manager, J-PAL South Asia

Day 2: Measurement

September 15, 16:30 – 18:00 (Time Zone IST), 07:00 – 08:30 (Time Zone EDT)
This session will explore how we define and measure the outcomes of interest in a social program as well as measuring impact using a Theory of Change to inform the selection of indicators. The lecture will also cover how to develop accurate and precise outcomes, particularly for hard-to-measure and seemingly abstract concepts.

Format: Lecture
Speakers: Lori Beaman, Northwestern University

Day 3: Why Randomize?

September 16, 16:30 – 18:30 (Time Zone IST), 07:00 – 09:00 (Time Zone EDT)
Through this lecture and accompanying case study, we will explore the features of different impact evaluation methodologies and discuss the relative advantages of randomized evaluations over others. Participants will also gain a deeper understanding of what influences the choice of one impact evaluation method over another.

Format: Lecture + Case Study Discussion 
Speakers: Andreas de Barros, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  

Day 4: How to Randomize?

September 17, 16:30 – 18:30 (Time Zone IST), 07:00 – 09:00 (Time Zone EDT) 
This lecture will provide an overview of the basic process of randomization and how participants can design randomized evaluations for different program specifications. The case study will equip participants with an understanding  of the randomization process through a real-life example. 

Format: Lecture + Case Study Discussion
Speakers: Abhijeet Singh, Stockholm School of Economics

Day 5. Research to Policy

September 18, 16:30 – 18:00 (Time Zone IST), 07:00 – 08:30 (Time Zone EDT) 
This lecture will focus on how to use research to drive action towards more effective policies and programs for alleviating poverty.

Format: Lecture
Speakers: Shagun Sabarwal, Director, CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia

Who Can Apply?

This course is designed for program managers and researchers at international development organizations, foundations, government and non-governmental organizations, as well as students (undergraduate/graduate/PhD), researchers, and development practitioners. 

Only individuals working or studying in South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) are eligible to apply to this online training course.

Course Objectives

Through this course, participants can expect to:

  • Gain a clear understanding of why and when researchers and policymakers might choose to conduct randomized evaluations and how randomized evaluations are designed in real-world settings.
  • Engage with coursework designed to help them apply learnings at their organizations through real-world examples and practice exercises.
  • Learn strategies to maximize policy impact and assess the generalizability of findings from research.

Key Concepts 

The following key questions and concepts will be covered:  

  • What is an evaluation?
  • Understanding and using the Theory of Change framework.
  • Why and when is a rigorous evaluation of social impact needed?
  • The common pitfalls of evaluations and how randomization helps avoid them.
  • The key components of a good randomized evaluation design.

Application Details 

Applicants are required to fill in this application form which would be reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications will take one-two weeks to be processed. The deadline for submissions is August 16, 2020.

Fee Structure

Accepted applicants are required to pay 5,000 INR (inclusive of taxes) for this course. The deadline for payment is September 6, 2020.


CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia is offering scholarships opportunities to the following select participants for this course:

  • Three scholarships for individuals who are currently enrolled in full-time graduate or doctoral studies from countries in South Asia.
  • Three scholarships for government officials/policymakers from countries in South Asia.

This scholarship is offered solely on the basis of merit. CLEAR/J-PAL South Asia will offer no further awards beyond this scholarship.
For further information, contact Bhakti Bhowmik ([email protected])