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.
View open positions and apply below.
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.
The University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab, led by Prof. Michael Greenstone, is seeking a full-time Post-Doctoral Scholar to help build and co-lead a portfolio of applied research projects related to environmental policy. The Post-Doctoral Scholar will work closely Lab leadership; and collaborate with other faculty members, as well as government agency partners to develop and implement policy-relevant research.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis starting on 12/15/2023.
Job Title: Project Associate – Energy & Environment Lab (Full-Time, Benefits Eligible)
Location: Chicago, IL
Full-time or Part-time: Full-Time
Status of employee: Staff (Benefits Eligible)
Reporting to: Olga Rostapshova
Expected Start Date: July 2024
About the Unit:
The University of Chicago Urban Labs partners with government and non-governmental organizations to identify and rigorously evaluate the policies and programs with the greatest potential to improve human lives at scale. Urban Labs’ evidence-based approach gives policymakers and practitioners the knowledge they need to effectively achieve the greatest social good per dollar spent. The University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab (E&E Lab) partners with agencies at the federal, state and local level to identify, rigorously evaluate, and help scale programs and policies that reduce pollution and improve environmental outcomes, while ensuring access to reliable and affordable energy. The E&E Lab applies rigorous evaluation and modeling methods, including natural and field experiments, randomized controlled trials, behavioral economics, and machine learning, to help policymakers identify and generate evidence on innovative approaches and policy solutions to their most pressing environmental and energy challenges.
The University of Chicago Energy & Environment Lab is seeking a Project Associate (PA) with strong research, methodological, and programming skills to support environmental policy research projects. The PA will work on a portfolio of projects designed to evaluate the impact of promising energy and environmental interventions. Typical research projects involve the analysis of environmental and energy data, utilizing quasi-experimental and experimental methods to provide government partners with guidance on key policy questions.
The successful candidate will have experience with data management, econometrics, and statistical modeling. The PA will contribute to all aspects of research, including data collection, model development, and implementation. This position requires an individual who is able to work as part of small research teams, and on multiple projects concurrently, while also being self-directed and independent. The position offers the opportunity to work directly with leading policy researchers and faculty at the University of Chicago and other universities, and policymakers in state and local environmental agencies.
- Works as part of faculty-led research teams to contribute to development, design and implementation of applied economics research studies.
- Collaboratively leads data collection, study management, subject sampling, randomization, and analysis including cleaning and assembling datasets for analysis; conduct field research as needed.
- Coordinates research activities, assists in preparing human subjects protocols, manages and analyzes data across multiple projects.
- Contributes to building traditional statistical models and machine learning algorithms for a variety of research projects.
- Prepares results of analysis for research papers, policy briefs, and memos and presentations targeting both policymakers and academic audiences.
- Helps build and maintain strong relationships and effective communication with government agencies, and other research partners and organizations.
- Conducts thorough and critical reviews of relevant literature.
- Supports fundraising and reporting efforts, such as helping prepare grant proposals and progress reports to funders.
- Maintains technical and administrative support for a portfolio of research projects.
- Takes responsibility for the following non-laboratory duties: transcribing and coding data; developing data collection instruments; presenting research; and recruiting and scheduling research subjects. Acquires higher-level skills and knowledge in the process.
- Maintains technical and administrative support for a research project.
- Analyzes and maintains data and/or specimens. Conducts literature reviews. Assists with preparation of reports, manuscripts and other documents.
- Performs other related work as needed.
Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.
Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through < 2 years of work experience in a related job discipline.
- Bachelor’s degree in economics, statistics, computer science or other relevant field.
- Coursework in econometrics and/or mathematical statistics.
- A minimum of one year of relevant research experience. Experience gained in school counts towards requirement.
- Background working on field experiments / randomized controlled trials.
Technical Skills or Knowledge:
- Experience working with Stata, R, Python, and/or other programming languages.
- Experience cleaning and analyzing data.
- Experience building predictive models.
- Strong interest in environmental policy.
- Extensive background in applied statistics and econometrics.
- Effective written and verbal communication skills.
- Work on multiple projects simultaneously and meet tight deadlines.
- Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
- Work both independently, in a self-directed manner, and as a team member.
- Resume/CV (required)
- Cover Letter (required)
- Writing Sample (required)
- Academic transcript(s)(required)
The University of Chicago provides equal employment opportunities to all employees, applicants, and job seekers. No person shall be discriminated against in employment or harassed because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, marital status, parental status, ancestry, source of income, or other classes protected by law. This policy includes the commitment to maintaining a work environment free from unlawful harassment.