Join our team

Supporting rigorous research and training the next generation of education scholars
Meet our team

The University of Michigan seeks candidates to become active members of the Education Policy Initiative. Our research group brings together a diverse set of scholars focused on the generation and dissemination of high-quality education policy research. The initiative disseminates best practices in education reform to local, state, and national policymakers and trains graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to conduct cutting-edge research in education. We work with education agencies and nonprofits to answer questions about the students, teachers, and families they serve, the problems they seek to address and the effectiveness of their programs.

Training program application process

  • Admissions

    The University of Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and Departments of Economics and Sociology offer a Causal Inference in Education Policy Research predoctoral training program to students interested in using causal methods to evaluate educational policies and practices spanning early childhood to the labor market. The program builds on the University of Michigan's strengths in education policy and social sciences. It also contributes to the University's emphasis on interdisciplinary research and programs that make critical contributions to society.

    We are actively seeking U-M doctoral students with diverse backgrounds and life experiences who are interested in using data and quantitative tools to answer questions related to education policy. Doctoral students across the social sciences at U-M are welcome to apply. The program seeks to build a community of fellows that honors and learns from the unique experiences and perspectives brought by each of its students, including those from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups, and students with disabilities. To learn more from current and past fellows, watch the video linked here.


    Students must be enrolled full-time in a U-M doctoral program in the social sciences. Fellows must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States to receive funding through the training program. Fellows must conduct independent research as well as dissertation research related to education. Renewal of funding in subsequent years is conditional on meeting annual training program requirements.

    Selection Criteria

    The critical criteria for selection is a passion for education policy and an interest in learning the methods of quantitative policy evaluation. Admissions decisions will be based on the candidates' demonstrated interest in the content of the training program, academic performance, and faculty recommendations. Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to attend CIERS to evaluate their personal interest in the training program and, if interested, demonstrate this interest to program staff. While successful candidates generally have a basic familiarity with statistics and data analysis, prospective fellows need not already be experts; the purpose of the fellowship is to train students in these skills. A fellowship committee will review applications and select the fellows.

    Offers of fellowships will typically be made in the spring of candidates' first or second year of doctoral studies. Students typically enter the training program in their second or third year of doctoral studies.


    Fellows supported by the program receive an annual stipend, full tuition support, fringe benefits, and a research allowance to support further professional development activities.

    Graduates of the predoctoral fellowship program have gone on to successful careers in academia and other research organizations; some now serve in leadership positions within local and state education agencies.


    Required coursework will provide formal training in quantitative methods and contextual knowledge about education policy, institutions and practice. Students will select courses based on their research interests and in consultation with the program director; many courses will satisfy both degree and training program requirements. The sequence of required courses includes:

    Five courses in Quantitative Methods:

    • Two (2) foundational courses in statistics, covering topics up to multiple regression analysis.
    • Three (3) additional courses in advanced quantitative methods.

    Two courses in Causal Inference in Education Policy Research:

    ​This year-long causal inference course sequence introduces students to education research that employs causal methods, and provides institutional, historical and theoretical context for the questions addressed in this research. Each course will focus, not just on identifying average causal effects, but also on determining the mechanisms by which effects were obtained, measuring intervention fidelity, and detecting heterogeneity in treatment effects.
    One course in Education Policy, Institutions or Practice


    Research apprenticeships enable fellows to learn all phases of the research process, gain hands-on experience working with student-level, longitudinal, administrative datasets, develop expertise in coding and statistical analysis, and cultivate their professional skills. Fellows spend at least one year on a project that is conducted in partnership with an education practitioner or policymaker.

    Examples of projects to which fellows may contribute:

    • What is the effect of Boston’s universal pre-kindergarten program on children’s academic and schooling outcomes? How do these effects vary across schools? What are the malleable factors that promote sustained pre-kindergarten impacts?
    • What is the effect of Michigan’s policy to retain third-graders who do not meet reading proficiency standards?
    • Does career and technical education improve a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school, enrolling in postsecondary education, and their labor market outcomes?
    • How does serving as a mentor for preservice teachers affect the performance of Tennessee’s teachers?
    • At what critical points do Michigan’s college students fall off the track to degree completion? What academic and financial stand in the way? How does this vary by higher education institution, student demographics, and socioeconomic status?
    • What are the effects of state scholarship loss for Black students, and how do these effects differ for low- versus high-income students?

    For more information, please email [email protected]. Please contact us with questions about your interest in the program, fit with your current studies, and other opportunities to get involved.


    We are not currently taking applications for the Postdoctoral Fellowship. Please check back in Fall 2024 for future openings. 

    Full description of position

    EPI is composed of researchers interested in understanding and evaluating education policies at the local, state, and national level. This fellowship position will train the postdoctoral fellow to evaluate the causal effects of early learning policies and practices, emphasizing the use of state and district longitudinal data. Fellows should be interested in investigating topics relevant to ongoing early learning policy conversations, working with practitioners in the field as partners, and using rigorous evaluation methods in collaboration with scholars at EPI, UM, and from other highly respected institutions.

    Fellows will receive close mentorship from professor Christina Weiland and have the opportunity to learn from cross-disciplinary faculty such as Brian Jacob, Kevin Stange, Katherine Michelmore, and other EPI affiliate faculty. Fellows will also have the opportunity to work with Rebecca Unterman and William Corrin at MDRC. Because U-M is home to a dynamic community of researchers, there is ample opportunity for fellows to experience professional development – via participation in seminars and trainings, as well as through exposure to and the opportunity to network with eminent education policy scholars.

    The research that will be completed over the 2-year fellowship is part of an Institute of Education Sciences sponsored research project. This is part of the longstanding Boston Early Childhood Research Practice Partnership. Together with Boston Public Schools (BPS), researchers from UM and MDRC are conducting a follow-up study of the impacts of the Boston Prekindergarten (Pre-K) Program into early adulthood, where they will follow four cohorts of children who applied to the Pre-K program between 2007 and 2010 into late elementary, middle school, high school, and early adulthood, through the 2022-2023 school year. Using administrative data, the team will estimate the impacts of Boston Pre-K in 4th -12th grade and through age 20 on student's school progress, school engagement, academic achievement, educational trajectory, and educational attainment. They will also describe students' experiences during the COVID-19 crisis and explore whether the timing of crisis held different implications for students in later high school grades versus middle school/early high school.

    Fellows engage in ongoing education-related research projects and participate in all aspects of the research process, including design, IRB administration, analysis, and presentation. They collect, compile, and analyze data; design surveys; participate in research planning; write papers; present results at seminars and professional meetings; and supervise research assistants. Integral to our training program, fellows learn how to develop a research partnership with practitioners or public agencies and to communicate results to nontechnical audiences.

    The postdoctoral fellowship is supported by grant R305A220036 from the United States Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences. It is a 2-year fellowship beginning in the summer of 2023 with competitive salary and benefits plus funds for related travel.


    Applicants must have completed their PhD in a relevant social science discipline prior to August 31, 2023, have an interest in researching education and receiving further training in causal inference methodology, and have academic research experience in public policy, economics, education, quantitative methodology, or other similar fields. The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

    Application process

    Applications include A) a completed application form; B) 2-3 page statement of interest, CV and writing samples (job market paper or recent publication authored/co-authored by the applicant) need to be attached to the application.

    Applications are no longer being accepted for this fellowship. Please check back for future fellowship opportunities.


Current employment opportunities

There are no positions currently available.