Research Associate (Survey Methodology) - The Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) at Michigan State University

The Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) at Michigan State University (MSU) invites applications for a postdoctoral Research Associate who is skilled in survey methodology and has an expertise and exhibited interest in education policy. The postdoctoral Research Associate will work with Professors Josh Cowen and Katharine Strunk and other EPIC faculty associates and researchers on multi-method empirical research in education policy, the economics of education, and policy evaluation and analysis.

The postdoctoral Research Associate will contribute to and, in some cases, lead projects collecting and using survey data from students, teachers and principals across the state. This includes understanding cognitive process underlying respondents’ reactions to surveys; designing and implementing rigorous, efficient methods for sampling and weighting; and employing advanced techniques for analyzing and interpreting survey and secondary data. Current EPIC research projects include studies of patterns and policies related to educator labor markets, school choice and student mobility, school and district turnaround, and innovative instruction in classrooms, schools and districts. In addition to engaging in EPIC research, the postdoctoral Research Associate will also be asked to work with EPIC co-directors to establish their own research agenda within EPIC’s major focus areas.

The postdoctoral Research Associate will work with other EPIC researchers to design survey instruments, design and conduct survey analyses, co-author peer-reviewed publications and reports to state and local partners, and present research at national conferences. In addition to EPIC projects and pursuing their own research programs, duties for the postdoctoral research associate may include:

  • assisting with oversight of a team of doctoral student research associates;
  • assisting with the developing and writing of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals; and
  • participating in the academic life of the center and the college.

EPIC is a policy lab located within the College of Education at Michigan State University. EPIC partners with state and school district leaders to produce rigorous and objective multi-method research with consequence that strengthens evidence-based decision-making for practice and policy in Michigan, with implications for historically disadvantaged students throughout the country. The EPIC team includes Drs. Katharine Strunk and Josh Cowen (EPIC co-directors), EPIC staff researchers, several other postdoctoral associates and doctoral students.

Preference will be given to candidates with strong survey methodology and statistical skills, including experience with survey development, administration and analysis, and strong evidence of writing capability. Because EPIC is a collaborative and fast-paced center, we are seeking a person who is excited to be a member of a dynamic and motivated group, and who is driven by a desire to produce both rigorous and policy-relevant research aimed at driving improvements in educational outcomes for Michigan students.

The position, which include benefits, is a fixed term annual, 100% time position beginning September 1, 2019 (although the start date is flexible and we welcome candidates who can start earlier) with the potential for one or two additional year renewals in the College of Education. We anticipate that the postdoctoral Research Associate will stay with EPIC for at least two years.

Michigan State University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Michigan State University is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, veterans and persons with disabilities.

Required Degree


Minimum Requirements

  • A Ph.D. in statistics, measurement, quantitative methods, public policy, education, social sciences, or another related field
  • Expertise on the principles, processes, and methods of survey research, including survey design and statistical and methodological issues related to surveys
  • Ability to lead questionnaire evaluation, design and testing tasks
  • Ability to lead survey implementation/production activities, preparing or reviewing deliverables, sample management, monitoring budget and schedule, resolving technical problems, and, communicating with external representatives
  • Ability to prepare technical and methodology reports, proposals, and other documentary deliverables
  • Significant research experience working in STATA or a comparable and appropriate statistical software package
  • A track record of publication, or evidence of strong potential
  • Ability to work collaboratively
  • Interest in pursuing independent and collaborative policy-oriented research in the field of public education

Desired Qualifications

  • Interest in education policy and reform implementation
  • Experience working on large-scale team-based projects
  • Excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication
  • Strong organizational skills and experience coordinating data collection and analysis activities across a large team
  • Experience mentoring early-stage graduate or undergraduate researchers

Required Application Materials

Interested candidates should send: 1) a letter of application stating qualifications for and reasons for interest in this position; 2) current curriculum vitae; 3) a writing sample (publication or draft manuscript); and 4) the names and contact information for three references. Review of applications will occur on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.

Special Instructions

Applicants must apply online at: Posting available at
Questions can be directed to Dr. Katharine Strunk at or Dr. Joshua Cowen

Review of Applications Begins On


MSU Statement

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.