Postdoctoral Training Program in Quantitative Methods for Education Policy Research

Our IES-sponsored postdoctoral fellows include Rachel Rosen, Daniel Kreisman, and Steven Hemelt (from left to right).

Alumni of our program include Rachel Rosen, Daniel Kreisman, and Steven Hemelt
(from left to right).

We are committed to developing the next generation of education policy research scholars, and regularly train postdoctoral fellows to deepen their skills and knowledge of rigorous, applied quantitative education policy research.

Fellows become experts in estimating the causal effects of education policies and practices on student outcomes. Integral to our training program, fellows conduct applied research in partnership with practitioners and agencies and learn to communicate results to non-technical audiences.

IES Postdoctoral Fellowship at EPI

Application currently closed

Established in 2011 with grant R305B110001 from the Institute for Education Sciences within the United States Department of Education, this postdoctoral fellowship trains recent graduates in quantitative methods for education policy research.

Fellows receive close mentorship from program faculty; attend courses and specialized training in quantitative methods; participate in seminars and workshops devoted to causal inference in education research; and assist in research projects that will develop skills in experimental and quasi-experimental methods for causal inference. Training emphasizes the use of state longitudinal data systems using techniques that allow for robust causal inference. Fellows collect, compile, and analyze data; design surveys; participate in research planning; write papers; present results at seminars and professional meetings; and supervise research assistants.

Position Description

The fellow will be trained to estimate the causal effects of education policies and practices on student outcomes, emphasizing the use of state and district longitudinal data. Fellows will participate in all aspects of the research process, including design, IRB administration, analysis, and presentation. They will collect, compile and analyze data; design surveys; participate in research planning; write papers; present results at seminars and professional meetings; and supervise research assistants. The fellow will learn how to develop a research partnership with practitioners or public agencies and to communicate results to non-technical audiences, including policymakers.

The fellow will also have the opportunity to develop and lead additional education research projects. The fellow should expect to spend about 60% of his/her time working on ongoing research projects at the Ford School, while dividing the other 40% between building new collaborations at the university and his/her own ongoing work. The fellow will not have any teaching responsibilities.

The fellow will receive close mentorship from professors Susan Dynarski and Brian Jacob and will have the opportunity to work with cross-disciplinary UM faculty, including John Bound, Stephen DesJardins, Mathew Ronfeldt, Jeff Smith, Kevin Stange and Christina Weiland. UM is home to a dynamic community of researchers, with ample opportunity for professional development – via participation in seminars and trainings, as well as through exposure to high-profile speakers.

This is a 2-year fellowship beginning in the summer of 2017 with competitive salary and benefits plus funds for research expenses and related travel.


Applicants must have completed their PhD in a relevant social science discipline prior to August 31, 2017 and have academic research experience in public policy, economics, education, quantitative methodology, or other similar fields.

Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Research Projects

Examples of projects that the fellows may contribute to include:

  • The Impact of the Michigan Merit Curriculum and Michigan Promise Scholarship on Student Outcomes – In partnership with the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan State University, our research team is evaluating the impact of these policies on student outcomes. We use state administrative data and school-level transcript information to examine the effects on a range of student outcomes.

  • NCLB Waivers, School Reform and Educational Inequality – This study will perform several state-specific regression-discontinuity analyses to measure how NCLB waiver reforms have influenced not only student achievement, but a variety of institutional practices that influence school performance. This analysis will also include key ancillary evidence and robustness checks to ensure accuracy.

  • Virtual Courses: The Introduction and Expansion of Virtual Schooling in Florida and its Effects on Student Academic Outcomes – This project explores how access to the online sector affects students’ academic performance, including test outcomes, course grades, and course progression. Using surveys on teacher and student experiences, we will develop hypotheses about factors affecting student learning and teacher effectiveness in online versus face-to-face classes.

  • Dual Credit Courses and the Road to College: Experimental Evidence from Tennessee – This project will estimate the causal relationship between dual-credit opportunities and subsequent educational outcomes, including enrollment in additional high school math courses; college attendance, choice, major, performance, and persistence; and enrollment in remedial math classes in college.

  • Nudges and Intrinsic Motivation: Experimental Evidence from the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program – This project evaluates if particular “nudges” influence whether teachers apply for the program, which provides student loan debt relief to eligible teachers.

  • Child Welfare and Educational Outcomes – This project will help shed light on the extent to which adverse events in early life, such as experiences within the foster care or juvenile justice systems, are correlated with academic outcomes and achievement. We seek to better understand factors that place students at risk of academic difficulty and help to determine which settings/practices can best serve an important subpopulation of children.

Current and Past Fellows