Senior Research Associate

Location: New York, NY; Oakland or Los Angeles, CA; Washington DC
Job Code: 8102-53


MDRC invites applications for a Senior Research Associate to join its Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS) to lead program evaluations. We are looking for candidates who have extensive knowledge of behavioral insights, significant experience applying those insights in field research with government agencies or nonprofit programs, a strong interest in social policy, and a desire to work in small teams to foster social innovation.

MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect low-income populations. The Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS) combines MDRC’s decades of policy and evaluation expertise with insights from behavioral science. Since launching the first major project to apply a behavioral research lens to human services programs that serve low-income families in the United States, CABS has expanded and developed numerous projects in child support, child welfare, welfare-to-work, workforce development, K- 12 education, and higher education.

MDRC is committed to finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation — from reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improving public education and college graduation rates. We design promising new interventions, evaluate existing programs using the highest research standards, and provide technical assistance to build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale. We work as an intermediary, bringing together public and private funders to test new policy-relevant ideas, and communicate what we learn to policymakers and practitioners — all with the goal of improving the lives of low-income individuals, families, and children.


  • Develop and lead rigorous evaluations in the Center for Applied Behavioral Science. This role includes writing analysis plans, leading impact analyses, and writing reports summarizing the methodology and results of our evaluations.
  • Develop ideas for new behavioral projects and topic areas. Identify opportunities for additional evaluation and technical assistance work and build a portfolio of new projects.
  • Develop and manage relationships with government agencies, education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to participate in program evaluation and technical assistance projects.
  • Travel to research sites to observe programs, and collect and analyze quantitative data, to understand choice architecture and behavioral bottlenecks in programs.
  • Design creative and behaviorally informed solutions in partnership with implementing agencies to improve program outcomes.
  • Train internal MDRC staff on applying behavioral insights and conducting research activities.
  • Develop and lead strategies to disseminate results related to MDRC’s behavioral projects to funders, policymakers, practitioners, social scientists, and potential new audiences.
  • Track the latest developments in behavioral science, as well as in the technology and methodology of intervention development and evaluation.
  • Manage project staff, work plans, and budgets.


  • Graduate-level degree (Ph.D. or master’s degree with relevant research experience) in psychology, economics, sociology, or another social science.
  • Preferably 7-10 years of experience leading applied behavioral science research, field trials, and/or technical assistance with government or nonprofit programs.
  • Knowledge of and experience with behavioral economics and psychology, social or education policy issues, and human-centered design or another multidisciplinary design discipline.
  • Knowledge of and experience with research design and analytic methods for causal inference. Familiarity with qualitative, mixed-methods, and implementation research a plus.
  • Demonstrated sensitivity to conduct research and technical assistance in diverse communities and the ability to relate to program management staff, site staff, community residents, and program clients.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as analytical ability.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, desire to work in a team-oriented environment, and ability to collaborate with many levels of a diverse staff.
  • Strong organizational skills, including an ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and meet fast-paced deadlines.

The position will be based out of one of MDRC’s offices (New York is preferred). Salary will be commensurate with experience. Comprehensive fringe benefits offered. Only candidates selected for further consideration will be contacted.

MDRC is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. MDRC does not discriminate, and all qualified applications will receive consideration without regard to race; color; national origin; religion; creed; sex or gender (including sex stereotyping and gender identity or expression); sexual orientation; citizenship status; pregnancy; disability; age; military or veteran status; marital or partnership status; genetic information, genetic predisposition, or carrier status; prior unemployment status; consumer credit history; status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking; or any other category protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws. Legal work authorization is required.

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