How to Prepare
You have big questions, about topics like racial inequity and income inequality. You want to change the world, combat problems like climate change, and influence policy.
Pursue a research career. Prepare with a predoctoral role.
Prepare with rigorous quantitative coursework, coding, and research experience.
Apply in the fall of your last year of school.
Demonstrate your skill in a data task.
Start your research journey with a pre-doctoral opportunity.
Big questions—Big answers—Big impact. Learn more and find resources to help you prepare at PREDOC.org.
Take courses to bolster your quantitative analysis and coding skills. The exact courses will vary based on the fields you're interested in. We have some recommendations for coursework that will be a strong foundation for research generally. If you're not sure what fields you're interested in, check some of these out. To find out more, you may want to apply to attend one of the IDDEAS informational workshops (see below).
Seek out research opportunities early on from the faculty at your institution and elsewhere. Below, you'll find several paid summer research assistance programs, like Leadership Alliance, the Federal Reserve Internship Program, and others. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn what research is all about. Past research assistant experience is one of the most powerful indicators of success for a predoc.
Attend a summer school to expand your toolkit, supplement your coursework, and meet other researchers. Summer schools are often free of cost, as tuition is included with admission (and some may even include a scholarship). Some excellent summer schools are listed below.
Learn to code, developing strong proficiency in at least one statistical programming language, like R, STATA, Python, or MATLAB. The precise platform isn't as important: you can always gain facility in another language as long as your coding fundamentals are strong.
Plan to apply early, typically the fall preceding the summer during which you'd like to start work. For many, this means applying to positions during the last year of your degree program. Most programs recruit and make offers in the fall for positions that start the next summer, though many also have recruiting seasons in the spring.
In addition to asking for standard materials like a CV, cover letter, and transcripts, many positions will ask applicants to complete a data task to demonstrate their quantitative abilities, including data visualization, economic intuition, and some specific technical skills. These data tasks can take time to complete (from a few hours to a full day), so be prepared to budget your time. We provide here two data tasks with suggested solutions so that you can practice. Both data tasks are longer and more involved than the typical data task for a pre-doc position, to give you the chance to practice more skills. Practice Data Task 1, Practice Data Task 2