The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI) works with the Chicago Economics community to turn its evidence-based research into real-world impact. BFI takes a unique approach to bridging the divide between academic researchers and decision-makers in the business community and government by translating and packaging the rigorous work of the Chicago Economics community into accessible formats, and proactively sharing those findings with relevant decision-makers and thought leaders around the globe. BFI is a collaborative platform serving the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, the Harris School of Public Policy, and the Law School.
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The Predoctoral Research in Economics program (PREP) is intended to serve as a bridge between college and graduate school for students interested in empirical economics. The program offers unique research and professional training opportunities at the University of Chicago.
The program offers economics research and training opportunities at the University of Chicago. Responsibilities span all stages of research, including managing projects, collecting and analyzing data, creating presentations, and editing manuscripts. In addition to working closely with faculty as research assistants, predoctoral research professionals typically attend classes and seminars at the Becker Friedman Institute (BFI), the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the University of Chicago, and affiliate institutions.
The program provides two key events for professional training. At the beginning of each year, there is a five-day long customized orientation and training workshop. The training sessions cover topics such as: Data management practices, version control, coding reviews, causal inference and econometric methods, working with spatial data, and science communication tools. In the winter, BFI will hold a retreat dedicated to professional career development. Junior and senior faculty attend and present on issues such as: Applications to graduate school, the development or research ideas and projects, grant applications, potential pitfalls in graduate school and how to avoid them, and cutting-edge statistical methods.
Along with the day-to-day contact with BFI faculty supervisors, the fellowship provides two key events for professional training. At the beginning of each year, pre-doctoral fellows participate in a five-day orientation and training workshop. The training sessions cover topics from data management practices to econometric methods and science communication tools. In the winter, BFI holds a retreat dedicated to career development. Faculty present on issues such as completing applications to graduate school, developing research ideas and projects, applying to grants, and performing cutting-edge statistical methods. They also provide advice on how to avoid common mistakes and succeed in graduate school.
BFI’s outstanding pre-doctoral fellows have gone on to some of the country’s top PhD programs, securing places in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; Urban Planning at the University of California at Berkeley; and more.
How to Apply
Applications for the program are reviewed in fall, winter, and spring cycles. The winter application cycle for 2022 is now live, with a priority deadline of January 30.
Applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree by June of the year they are applying, and have strong quantitative and programming skills. Candidates with research experience are strongly preferred, especially those with experience in Stata, R, Python or Matlab. The ideal candidate would begin in July and work for BFI for one or two years before applying to graduate school in Economics or another quantitative social science. BFI offers a competitive salary and employee benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you offer visa sponsorship for international applicants?
Yes, BFI sponsors work or student visas.
2. Are there any specific requirements for the writing sample?
There are no requirements for the length or topic of your writing sample. Many successful applicants submit economics research papers (e.g. a thesis, or term paper) that highlight their abilities in writing and empirical analysis.
3. What kind of applicant does BFI look for?
Successful applicants have typically completed advanced coursework with high marks in economics, math, statistics, or computer science. Many pre-doctoral research professionals have had past economics research experience at their university, or other research institutions such as the Federal Reserve, World Bank, J-PAL or IMF.