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
This program provides interns an opportunity to work with Columbia Business School's faculty on a research project in economics, accounting, finance, management, marketing, or the behavioral sciences. The work may include literature reviews, data collection and cleaning, web scraping, and statistical analysis, and advanced analytics such as machine learning and NLP.Columbia Business School Summer Internship
The Board's Internship Program is designed to provide valuable work experience for undergraduate and graduate students considering careers including, but not limited to, economics, finance and accounting, information systems, and data analysis. Find even more opportunities at the Fed's Econ Jobs website.Federal Reserve Board Summer Internship Program
The University of Chicago hosts two summer opportunities for individuals interested in energy policy research. The Energy & Environment Lab seeks an RA to evaluate different energy and environment policy interventions. The Energy Policy Institute at Chicago is recruiting a Fellow to assist in analysis of energy and environmental data from the United States, India, China, and other countries.Energy Policy
The EDE Summer Institute identifies and supports talented undergraduates interested in economics. The Becker Friedman Institute will host 30-40 students in a three-week program including daily lectures, skill-building coursework, networking, and mentoring.Expanding Diversity in Economics: A UChicago Summer Institute
The AEASP Team announced that the AEA Summer Training Program will be held at Howard University for Summer 2021. The faculty and fellows are excited to deliver high-quality instruction and enriching real-world experiences unique to the nation’s capital.American Economic Association Summer Program
The University of Chicago's Summer Institute in Social Research Methods combines classroom instruction, workshops, and hands-on research experience for undergraduate and early-career graduate students. Participants are eligible to access RA positions with faculty at the University of ChicagoUChicago Summer Institute in Social Research Methods
The PhD Excellence Initiative drives diversity in the field of economics by offering rigorous, post-baccalaureate fellowships to high-achieving scholars of color, setting them on the path to pursue doctoral degrees and research careers at the nation’s top institutions.The PhD Excellence Initiative
Other Programs and Resources
- NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates: The National Science Foundation provides a list of sites with NSF-funded undergraduate research opportunities. These part-time opportunities span the social sciences. Apply at individual site websites.
- Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy: The Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy is an opportunity for a diverse set of policy school master's students to be mentored and to develop the skills and experience needed to prepare for doctoral studies and an academic career in policy.
- University of Virginia Bridge to the Doctorate: UVA’s Graduate School seeks to support post-baccalaureate students from groups that are underrepresented in their disciplines and who have not had sufficient training and research experiences to prepare them for admission to doctoral programs.
- Wharton resource page for pre-doctoral training opportunities: Wharton compiled an informational website that contains several links to organizations that offer pre-doctoral training opportunities of various kinds.