J-PAL Executive Education: Evaluating Social Programs, US 2019

Workshop or Training
MIT Cambridge, MA, USA
Course Content

This five-day in-person training equips participants with resources and knowledge to design, use, and interpret evidence from impact evaluations of social programs. The course is an overview of why, when, and how researchers and policymakers might choose to conduct randomized evaluations and how randomized evaluations are designed.

Lectures and case studies use real-world examples to prepare participants to apply learning at their home organizations. The course covers both the technical design and pragmatic considerations of measuring impact with a randomized evaluation.

Key Concepts Covered
  • Why and when is a rigorous evaluation of social impact needed?
  • The key components of a high-quality randomized evaluation.
  • Creating a foundation for measuring impact using tools like a needs assessment and an impact-oriented theory of change. 
  • The common pitfalls of evaluation methods and how randomization helps avoid them.
  • Techniques for incorporating randomization into program design.
  • How to determine an appropriate sample size and measure outcomes.
  • Guarding against threats that may undermine the integrity of results.
  • Techniques for the analysis and interpretation of results.
  • How to maximize policy impact and assess the generalizability of research findings.
  • How to understand and apply the results of randomized evaluations to your program.
Connections with Peers, Academic Researchers, and Experts in the Field

Renowned academic researchers from MIT and other institutions lead sessions where participants can ask questions about how to generate rigorous evidence to inform decision-making.

Participants will engage in small group discussions with J-PAL staff and with other participants, providing opportunities to forge connections with peers. By working through case studies in groups with the support of staff, participants will solidify new concepts and discuss how they might apply new skills on future projects. Small group engagements with J-PAL staff provide opportunity to engage directly with and learn from experts while practicing new skills. Through the course, participants build a network of peers who work on program evaluation or delivery in health, education, housing, development, governance, and other fields.

Former participants say:

“Great opportunity to design and receive feedback on our own evaluations.”

“Really enjoyed the teaching methods. The initial exposure to case studies was then solidified through lectures and small group work. The constant interaction kept students engaged throughout.”

“I enjoyed this training very much and thought the experience was excellent. I still am buzzing whenever I speak about it. There were many wonderful aspects: the working groups, the quality of the other students, the quality of the TAs and the seriousness and dedication of the training effort. It was absolutely first-class.”

Key Information

Dates: June 10 - 14, 2019

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States

Contact: Sarah Gault, [email protected] with questions about applying or details about the course.

The application for this course is currently closed!


The fees below include breakfast, lunch, beverages, and snacks, as well as a reception. Travel and accommodations are not included.

Individuals residing in/Organizations headquartered in High-income* countries

Individuals residing in/Organizations headquartered in Low and lower/upper middle-income* countries

For-profit, Foundation, or Intergovernmental organization $3,500 $3,500
Academic or Research Institution $3,500 $2,500
National government $3,500 $2,500
State, county, or municipal government $2,500 $1,500
NGO (operating budget < $10M) $2,000 $1,500
NGO (operating budget > $10M) $2,500 $1,500

*World Bank Income Categories.

Note: staff at academic institutions may qualify for tuition assistance, see for example tuition benefits at MIT.