J-PAL Africa Evaluating Social Programs Course, 2021

Workshop or Training
Live via Zoom | SAST
A woman works on her laptop in an office setting in Uganda.
Photo: Uganda Executive Education | J-PAL Africa

Course Overview

Held live over Zoom, this five-day training will equip participants with the resources and knowledge to engage with impact evaluations of social programs. This training will provide participants with a thorough understanding of why and when researchers and policymakers might choose to conduct randomized evaluations and how randomized evaluations are designed in real-world settings. The course provides an in-depth look at using randomized evaluations to rigorously measure social impact, methods and considerations for their design and implementation, and how findings can inform evidence-based policies and programs.

Lectures and case studies uses real-world examples from Africa on a variety of themes  including labour, gender, finance and governance.  The course reviews the benefits and methods of randomization, how to choose an appropriate sample size, and common threats and pitfalls to the validity of an evaluation. It covers the importance of a needs assessment and a theory of change, and how to measure outcomes effectively—tools that are critical for all programme evaluations.


Apply here!

As spots in the course are limited and we will review applications on a rolling basis, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Application Due Date: 30th June 2021 

Who is a good candidate for this course?

Participants typically include directors, managers, officers, and researchers from governments, NGOs/nonprofits, international development organizations, and foundations, as well as trained economists looking to retool. The typical participant is a mid-career professional with an interest in incorporating randomized evaluations into their work in Africa. Although not required, some familiarity with economics and basic statistical concepts is helpful.

Course Format

J-PAL affiliated professors and senior staff with extensive experience implementing randomized evaluations will lead interactive lecture sessions on how to generate rigorous evidence to inform decision-making. Participants will also engage in small group discussions with J-PAL staff and fellow participants with similar areas of work, providing opportunities to collaborate and network with their peers. By working through case studies and examples in small groups with the support of staff, participants will solidify new lecture concepts and discuss how they might apply these skills to their own work. Participants will also get a chance to ask academics and experts questions in brief question and answer sessions at the end of each day. 

Over the course of the five-day training, participants will spend roughly three hours each day in live Zoom lectures and small-group sessions to apply learnings to case study examples, exercises, and individual projects. Outside of these structured sessions, the schedule includes opportunities to network with peers and engage in office hours with the teaching team.

View a sample agenda for the course here >>

Course Objectives

Participants can expect to:

  • Gain a clear understanding of why and when a rigorous evaluation of social impact is needed and how randomized evaluations are designed in real-world settings, particularly in African countries;
  • Develop a foundational toolkit for measuring impact that includes needs assessments, logical frameworks, and theories of change;
  • Gain insight on threats to the validity of experiments as well as techniques for data analysis, determining the appropriate sample size, and interpreting results;
  • Participate in small group discussions to apply new concepts to case study examples and their own work;
  • Learn strategies to maximize policy impact and assess the generalizability of research findings; and
  • Join a community of practice with other decision-makers who can provide support in the design and use of impact evaluations.

Key Information

How to apply: You can complete your application here. As spots in the course are limited and we will review applications on a rolling basis, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Admissions criteria: Although we have no fixed requirements, selection for admission is based on applicants’ organizational responsibilities and organizations’ alignment with J-PAL’s mission of reducing poverty through evidence-informed policy.

Contact: Please contact Lauren Roode at [email protected] with questions about applying or details about the course.

Further information: For further information on J-PAL’s Evaluating Social Programs course, including frequently asked questions, please refer to our website.


Fees for the course vary depending on organization type and operating budget. Please refer to the table below to determine your course fee. Please note that participants paying by credit card will additionally be responsible for any associated service and payment processing fees.

  Organizations headquartered in high-income* countries Organizations headquartered in low/middle-income* countries
Multi-national/For-profit/Foundation USD $500 USD $250
Academic/Research Institution USD $1000 USD $150
Government USD $1000 USD $100
NGO USD $500 USD $100
Graduate student See note See note

* World Bank Income Categories

Note: Staff at academic institutions may qualify for tuition assistance from their institution (see, for example, tuition benefits at MIT).