Policy Associate - J-PAL Global

United States
Language Requirement 
Length of Commitment 
Three years or more
Start Date 
August 01, 2017

Watch this video to hear from a current Policy Associate about life at J-PAL. Learn more about Yuen Ho here

Job Description

J-PAL is recruiting Policy Associates to contribute to its mission of promoting evidence-informed policy. This position is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. 

The Policy 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 inform development policy.


Your work provides the foundation and direction for J-PAL’s growing policy efforts. As a Policy Associate, your primary tasks will involve communication, analysis, and specialization.

Communication: Write publications that “translate” J-PAL’s economic research into lessons for policymakers around the world. You will create materials for policy outreach, including publications, evaluation summaries, and website content. Associates have the opportunity to help organize events and further their communication skills by attending conferences and participating in meetings with policymakers and partner organizations. 

Analysis: Conduct research and analysis for policy memos, grant proposals, and sector-specific work. Collect and examine project implementation data to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses. Associates also have the opportunity to work with senior staff on specific research tasks.

Specialization: Develop in-depth knowledge of one or more of J-PAL’s sectors (Agriculture, Crime, Education, Environment and Energy, Finance, Health, Labor Markets, and Governance). Gain regional expertise by supporting one of J-PAL’s offices in Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Professional Development

The Policy Group invests in your professional development. As a 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 at MIT or elsewhere with our 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: Associates have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliates and directors, as well as interact with policymakers and practitioners alongside senior Group members. As core content creators, Associates’ publications are distributed to development stakeholders worldwide.

Travel: 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.

Grow: Associates can expect to join a peer group eager to build institutional knowledge and pass on lessons learned. Associates receive one-on-one mentorship from senior Group members and are eligible for internal promotion to Senior Policy Associate after two to three years with J-PAL. Such promotions are based on performance and ability.


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.


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 Policy Associate.

Education: You hold at least a bachelor’s degree with significant training in economics, including intermediate-level economics, econometrics, and calculus. Do you have a demonstrated academic interest in international development policy and/or study abroad experience? Even better.

Experience: This is a junior-level position requiring 0-2 years of relevant work experience. You may be a recent or soon-to-be graduate with related internships, or you may have previous experience in research and/or development work. Have a Master’s and 2-4 years of experience? Consider applying for our Senior Policy Associate position. Have 5+ years of experience? Consider applying for our Policy Manager position.

Skills: You are comfortable learning computer applications, including Salesforce. Knowledge of Spanish, French, or other languages 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.

Attitude: You love learning. You are passionate about international development policy and the rigorous research that informs it. You are self-motivated, work hard, and enjoy working in teams.

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Have permanent U.S. work authorization? Apply now.

Please follow all steps to apply.

1. Create a single PDF with the filename “Lastname_Firstname” that includes:

  • One-page cover letter stating:
    • Why you’re interested
    • Why you’re qualified
  • Curriculum vitae or resume (no more than two pages)
  • Transcripts of your undergraduate and graduate courses (unofficial transcripts accepted)

2. E-mail the PDF to [email protected] with the subject line “Lastname_Firstname”

3. As this position is to be based at MIT, please also complete the brief application form at http://tinyurl.com/j9qy3xd 

Applicants who successfully advance to the next stage will be required to submit two recommendation letters. Letter writers should e-mail the recommendations from their professional or academic email address to [email protected] with the subject line “Recommendation Letter_ApplicantLastname_ApplicantFirstname. Short-listed applicants will be asked to complete an at-home writing exercise testing technical and policy analysis skills.

Please note this position is not eligible for any type of visa sponsorship.