J-PAL/MIT Evaluating Social Programs Course, 2021

Workshop or Training
Live via Zoom
Participants at J-PAL's Evaluating Social Programs course working through an exercise on their computers.
Photo: Amanda Kohn | J-PAL

Course Overview

Held live over Zoom, this four-day training will equip participants with the resources and knowledge to engage with impact evaluations of social programs. The interactive course provides an in-depth look at why and when randomized evaluations can be used 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 using real-world examples will prepare participants to apply learnings at their home organizations. The course covers both technical design and pragmatic considerations for measuring impact with a randomized evaluation. The immersive format enables participants to forge connections with peers, academic researchers, and experts in the field.

Thank you for your interest! Applications for the course are now closed.

Who is a good candidate for this course?

This course is designed for a range of participants, from policymakers and monitoring and evaluation personnel, to research or management staff working in governments, international organizations, foundations, private sector companies, and NGOs. The typical participant is a mid-career professional with an interest in incorporating randomized evaluations into their work. 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.

Over the course of the four-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;

  • 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.

Former J-PAL course 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

How to apply: Applications for the course are now closed. Applicants will be notified of their application status via email.

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 Sarah Gault 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 and middle-income* countries
For-profit, foundation, or intergovernmental organization $1,400 $1,400
Academic or research institution $1,400 $1,000
National government $1,400 $1,000
State, county, or municipal government $1,000 $600
NGO (operating budget > $10M) $1,000 $600
NGO (operating budget < $10M) $800 $600

* World Bank Income Categories

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