Director of Research, Education and Training - J-PAL Global

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of 194 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty.

The Research, Education, and Training team grapples with questions of privacy and research transparency and the challenges that arise in conducting responsible, yet innovative research; we apply quantitative measurement techniques and data analysis methods and train others in applying them; and we equip policymakers as well as researchers and research staff with the necessary knowledge to conduct randomized impact evaluations.

J-PAL is recruiting for a Director of Research, Education and Training (DRET) to contribute to its mission of promoting evidence-informed policy. This position is a senior-level position based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. The Director of Research, Education, and Training works largely independently, and reports directly to J-PAL’s Executive Director, Iqbal Dhaliwal. He/she also works collaboratively with J-PAL’s Research, Education and Training Co-Chairs, Shawn Cole and William Pariente.  

The DRET manages work in our Research, Education and Training areas within these broad themes:  

  1. Providing intellectual leadership to the research teams in the regional offices. J-PALs regional offices run most of the RCTs conducted by affiliated professors. The J-PAL Global research team supports regional teams by providing guidance on methodological innovations and developments and technical support, through internal seminars, research staff trainings, written resources, and in-person communication with senior research staff in the regional offices.
  2. Creating research public goods. J-PAL has played an important role creating research public goods across the social sciences. Research public goods include writing resources and guidelines for junior researchers and research staff, publishing RCT data for wide use, and disseminating and building staff capacity regarding research protocols and standards, especially regarding data and research quality, ethics, and transparency of research. 
  3. Training on randomized trials and use of evidence. Each year thousands of people attend J-PAL’s online and in-person trainings for policy makers in government, non-profit, and donor organizations. J-PAL Global hosts or co-hosts both in-person and online trainings and supports the regional offices in carrying out their own trainings, in particular in content development and teaching. J-PAL Global develops content used by all offices, and plays an important role in maintaining quality and consistency and disseminating unified materials and teaching approaches. 
  4. Researcher Capacity Building: One of J-PAL’s core missions is to build the capacity of local researchers in developing countries to conduct independent research using randomized control trials (RCTs). This position is responsible for working closely with leadership of J-PAL to implement this agenda worldwide. 
  5. Academic programs. MIT Economics in cooperation with J-PAL has developed a series of six edX courses that form an online MicroMasters course from MITx. In 2020, the MicroMasters is complemented by a Blended Masters program coordinated by MIT Economics and J-PAL.
  6. Personal Research: To stay current with emerging innovations in economics and econometrics, the Director will have the option to carry out independent research, take opportunities for professional development such as attending conferences and MIT’s development or applied micro seminars and talks, and participate in academic service for Economics, such as writing referee reports. The Director’s research work is expected to take about 25% of their time and they would have access to research funding from J-PAL’s numerous in-house funding initiatives including those in education, governance, crime, labor or government partnerships. They would also have preferential access to becoming PI on projects that are match-made by any of the J-PAL regional offices and would not require a J-PAL affiliate to be co-PI (unlike for most other staff positions that do require an affiliate to be a co-PI).


  • Oversees a team about 14 staff.
  • Directly mentors and supervises 1 Associate Director, 2-3 Manager and Senior Manager level staff, some of whom hold PhDs. Hiring, review, and personnel development activities, identifying needs for the team as a whole as well as individual team members. 
  • Serves as the head of J-PAL Global’s Research, Education and Training sub-verticals. This includes organizing related sessions at two annual Senior Management Team meetings, and leading discussions on related topics in biweekly SMT meetings.
  • Leads academic research projects worldwide as PI or Co-PI with personnel responsibility for research and field staff, raises funding for such projects, writes academic research papers, and carries out academic service, including mentoring students and junior research staff or MSRP fellows at MIT.
  • Primary liaison to various partners and funding organizations
  • Advises vertical leads in six regional offices and the MENA region on operational and technical questions, including funding applications, related to research and capacity building.
  • Visits regional offices to teach in regional trainings (staff trainings as well as Executive Education and other practitioner courses), meet with senior staff, and represent J-PAL worldwide, by meeting with policy partners, participating in conferences, giving university lectures, etc.

Specific duties and responsibilities include:


Leads and manages components of the J-PAL Global research function related to field work and project implementation as well as research staff capacity, including:

  • Work with regional offices on tracking compliance of RCTs in the field to minimum must dos. 
  • Supervise the research transparency work including trial registry administration, data publication and replication work for affiliates for their RCTs. 
  • Leading content development for resources such as guidelines, best-practice guides, case studies, instructions, toolkits and analytical tools (e.g., Stata code) for research project teams worldwide.
  • Providing guidance to the Innovations in Data for Experiments initiative (IDEA). In close cooperation with the IDEA Co-Chairs, implementing strategy for regional IDEA labs, which includes writing funding proposals, advising regional offices regarding work with administrative data, and leading the strategy that provides guidance to data providers on making administrative data more accessible and to applied researchers on processing and using this data.
  • Working to ensure a coherent strategy and implementation of research support functions.
  • Developing and implementing policies and practices to ensure ethical and high-quality research efforts, including aspects related to project expenditures, data quality and security, and human subjects issues.
  • Ensuring research staff are fully prepared to implement projects of the highest possible quality.
  • Developing funding proposals as needed to support these activities.
  • Creating strategy for building local researcher capacity, and executing it.


  • Manages the Education efforts at J-PAL, which encompass all academic course work J-PAL collaborates on with MIT and other host universities, including:
  • Working with the Associate Director of Education to provide management and supervision of the Education team and to serve as an advisor to the online MicroMasters and residential Blended Masters program and faculty involved.
  • Advising on development and strategy for other academic programs by J-PAL regional offices.


  • Manages the training and capacity building function for J-PAL offices worldwide, including:
  • Working on training strategy, including
  • advising regional office leads on course planning, including negotiations with funders, policy partners, or host universities who request trainings, and advising on strategic positioning and content of courses and evaluate new course proposals by regional offices. 
  •  Working with J-PAL senior leadership to develop guidelines and best practices for our trainings and providing guidance on training contents that ensures consistent accuracy, high quality, and accessibility of training materials and an accurate representation of the underlying academic research.
  • Managing J-PAL Global’s online and in person course offerings, including conducting and teaching courses both online and in person (excludes the education portfolio of micromasters and MIT masters).
  • Managing content development, teaching, and development of feedback, evaluation, and knowledge assessment materials and other tools for all training operations. 
  • Overseeing internal record keeping of all Training operations to facilitate strategic planning, including grant reporting and grant writing, and oversee the external promotion of J-PAL’s capacity building work.
  • Assisting with fundraising efforts related to on-line and in-person course offerings.

Academic research and service:

Leads academic projects and provides academic service in Economics, such as referee reports, conference organization, conference participation, panel discussions, and advising undergraduate students and research staff.


Education: A Ph.D. degree in economics or related field is strongly preferred. Master’s degree in economics or related field will require significant coursework in econometrics.

Experience: At least 10 years of experience (some of which may have been part of graduate studies, provided we consider it to be substantive and directly related to JPAL’s work) in running randomized controlled trials in economics or similar field is required, management and supervisory experience is strongly preferred. 

Quantitative skills: Strong quantitative skills are required. 

Management skills: Very strong and proven organizational, management, communication, teamwork, and people skills are essential to succeed in this job. 

Professional Development

J-PAL invests in your professional development. As a Director, 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: You have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliated researchers and directors, as well as interact with J-PAL partners, including decision-makers and practitioners. Your work can include creating and contributing to publications that are distributed to development stakeholders worldwide.

Travel: You will have the opportunity to present at J-PAL’s regional offices and attend policy events worldwide, and participate in a unique international experience supporting on-the-ground research.

Grow: You can expect to join a peer group eager to build institutional knowledge and pass on lessons learned and will receive one-on-one mentorship from the Global Executive Director. 


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.

How to Apply

Ready to join a team of supportive, engaging, and fun colleagues? Apply now.

Please complete this three-step process:

  1. Please email your application materials to this email address: [email protected]org. You must include the following materials in one PDF document in this order:
    1. Cover letter: Please outline why you are interested in J-PAL Global and why you are qualified for this role.
    2. Resume/CV: Please include names of at least three references, with their email address and titles.
    3. Writing Sample: This should be an academic publication or working paper or thesis if PhD. For non-PhDs, please submit any other technical paper reflecting your research or technical skills.
  2. Please ask your references to send their recommendation letters directly to the following email address: [email protected]. We would like one letter to be from a professor from your Masters (non-PhDs) or thesis advisor (for PhDs), and the other letter should be from an employer.
  3. Finally, submit a short application via MIT’s human resources system. Visit, search for job ID 18636 (Director of Research, Education and Training) and complete an application.

Please note: The ideal candidate will be able to commit to this position for at least five years. Candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States. MIT does not sponsor visas for this position.

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