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Principal Postsecondary Education Researcher & Project Leader

Job ID 1920-7

Position Description:

Mathematica applies expertise at the intersection of data, methods, policy, and practice to address complex social challenges and improve well-being around the world. We create and use evidence to help our public and private sector partners improve programs, refine strategies, and advance knowledge. Over the past two decades, we have developed a large portfolio of international development work that spans more than 50 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Our work provides actionable learning to guide decision-making and improve outcomes in a range of policy areas, including health, agriculture, climate change, energy, education, and workforce development.

Mathematica seeks a principal researcher with expertise in postsecondary education to lead research and evaluation, program improvement, and/or technical assistance projects. The principal researcher will lead projects focused on postsecondary access and success, financial aid, and other postsecondary education topics for government agencies at the federal, state, and local level as well as private philanthropic and nonprofit clients.

Our current and recent work includes a range of projects such as:

  • Developing a practice guide for secondary school educators on evidence-based college access and readiness practices
  • Serving as a learning and evaluation partner for nine urban-serving universities aiming to build inclusive success pathways for adult learners
  • Conducting a random assignment evaluation of a training for career navigators designed to support college and career transitions for learners enrolled in adult education programs
  • Developing and executing a learning agenda for a postsecondary digital learning portfolio for a national philanthropic funder

The principal researcher will join our large and growing interdisciplinary staff of researchers in such fields as economics, education (measurement or policy analysis), sociology, and data science. Principal researchers will contribute to continuing growth in the Education and Employment division by directing projects, identifying and obtaining new opportunities, and mentoring junior staff.


  • Represents Mathematica to clients as project director, principal investigator, or subject matter expert; able to engage clients to work through challenges and offer research, technical, or program expertise to help solve problems
  • Regularly leads proposal content development, and leads the quality assurance reviews of other proposals in their field of expertise
  • Assists in developing strategy and priorities around which clients to pursue, how to best leverage Mathematica expertise, and where to build additional capabilities
  • Demonstrates thought leadership in one or more subject matter areas through published material including papers, journal articles, blog posts or other communications
  • Represents Mathematica externally by speaking at conferences, leading panel discussions, serving on technical expert panels, and/or providing testimony
  • Serves as mentor and thought leader at Mathematica for staff in one or more areas of subject matter expertise; develops ways to engage staff and share knowledge

Position Requirements:


  • Ph.D. or equivalent in education (measurement or policy analysis), economics, sociology, public policy, or a related field or a combination of equivalent education and work experience
  • 10 or more years of experience working with or evaluating programs/interventions designed to improve postsecondary access and success
  • Experience in equitable evaluation and inclusive research is a plus

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Evidence of successful business development activities with the federal government, state or local education agencies, non-profits, or foundations
  • Experience interacting with philanthropy, state and local education agencies, postsecondary education institutions, or other program practitioners through such as activities as training and technical assistance, program or curriculum development, or continuous quality improvement is a plus.
  • Ability to develop research and policy questions and establish policy and technical frameworks for addressing them
  • Ability to develop and implement solutions to critical issues facing government and private program providers
  • Ability to discern policy, infrastructure, and data needs for the Postsecondary area within the Human Services unit
  • Experience with quality assurance procedures
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including experience communicating research questions, designs, and findings in non-technical language to educators, school district leaders, postsecondary education institutions, states, federal agencies, foundations, and non-profits
  • Ability to develop and deliver presentations to internal and external audiences
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including a demonstrated ability to deal tactfully and diplomatically with clients and other external stakeholders
  • Flexibility to handle multiple priorities, sometimes simultaneously, under deadline pressure
  • Strong managerial skills of both projects and staff
  • Demonstrated commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion through prior work.

A cover letter and resume must be submitted at the time of application via our online application system. Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis in the order that applications are received.

This position offers an anticipated annual base salary range of $140,000 - $200,000. We offer flexibility to work remotely or in an office.

Available locations: Princeton, NJ; Washington, DC; Cambridge, MA; Ann Arbor, MI; Oakland, CA; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; Remote

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

Various federal agencies with whom we contract require that staff successfully undergo a background investigation or security clearance as a condition of working on the project. If you are assigned to such a project, you will be required to obtain the requisite security clearance. Additionally, if you participate in/complete the application process and are denied, Mathematica may choose to terminate your employment.

Although Mathematica does not require vaccination from COVID-19 as a condition of employment, various projects or agencies may require documentation of vaccination (or an approved exception/accommodation).

We take pride in our employees and in their commitment to excellence. We encourage staff to collaborate in developing creative solutions to difficult problems and to share the responsibility and enjoyment of carrying out complex projects. This collegial spirit has helped us earn our reputation for innovative and high quality work.

One of Mathematica’s core values is a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our work is more robust because it is informed by a variety of diverse perspectives, and our mission to improve societal well-being is strengthened by a greater understanding of issues and challenges facing the populations we serve. Mathematica’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion is woven into our everyday actions, policies, and practices—including decisions regarding recruitment, training, compensation, and promotion. We are dedicated to maintaining a work environment in which everyone is treated with respect and dignity.

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