MDRC invites applications for a Research Associate to join its Center for Data Insights to lead data science projects, advance data science methodologies, and develop new partnerships. We are looking for candidates who have extensive knowledge of data science and quantitative research methods; significant experience applying those methods in government agencies, nonprofit programs, or education institutions; a strong interest in social policy; the ability to develop and manage projects with external partners; and a desire to work in small teams to foster 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 Data Insights (CDI) helps institutions improve their programs and systems by harnessing the benefits of operational data-science techniques to produce actionable insights. CDI supports its partners in adopting data analytics to enhance their practices, organizational cultures, and the structure of their work in a sustainable way, to ultimately lower their costs and improve the outcomes for their clients.

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 data science projects in CDI. This role includes helping partner organizations identify operational research questions, designing analyses to answer those questions, developing analytic tools for implementing the analyses, and communicating findings, implications, and limitations to practitioner audiences.
  • Develop, lead, and deliver technical assistance and data science support to service providers in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of qualitative and quantitative researchers.
  • Develop and manage relationships with government agencies, education institutions, and nonprofit organizations to participate in data science technical assistance projects.
  • Identify opportunities for building a portfolio of new projects.
  • Manage projects and proposals, including timelines, staffing, work plans, and budgets.
  • Stay up to date on the latest developments in data science, as well as in open data initiatives, and help advance methods used at MDRC.
  • Use open source code (primarily R) to apply data science methods, such as machine learning and unsupervised learning techniques, and guide analysts in writing code to implement analyses.
  • Train staff, including MDRC colleagues and technical staff at partner organizations, to use data science techniques.
  • Help design and produce dashboards, graphics, and other visual tools that make advanced analytics results intuitive and clear.


  • Graduate-level degree (Ph.D. or master’s degree with relevant data science experience) in quantitative field.
  • Preferably 5-10 years of experience of applied data science or quantitative research focused on social good.
  • Knowledge of and experience with predictive modeling and analytic methods for causal inference. Familiarity with qualitative, mixed-methods, and implementation research a plus.
  • Demonstrated sensitivity to conducting 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.
  • 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 (Oakland, California, is preferred). Salary will be commensurate with experience. Comprehensive fringe benefits offered. Only candidates selected for further consideration will be contacted. We will only consider candidates who complete the application in its entirety.

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.

Application Process  

MDRC has retained the services of Insight Executive Search.   For more information or to apply for the position, please contact:

Aaron Schmidt
Insight Executive Search