In advancing its mission to conduct and disseminate economic research, the NBER offers engagement opportunities for students interested in economics and for professional economists at all stages of their careers.
Participating in undergraduate research offers both professional and personal benefits. It allows students to expand their academic experiences and explore the discipline of economics more fully. Undergraduates who are interested in pursuing careers in economics may apply to become involved in the NBER’s faculty-directed research projects. Undergraduate research assistants may gather and analyze economic data, create charts and graphs, code, and check mathematical calculations. Reaching out to faculty members directly can often lead to research opportunities, both during the academic year and during the summer. Further information on the breadth of research projects being conducted by NBER researchers may be found at Projects and Centers.
Students who are new to economics and interested in learning more about the field may find the “Should I Major in Economics?” video, prepared by the American Economic Association AEA, of interest.
Additional information for students interested in learning about the economics profession may be found at AEA Resources for Students.
The NBER is committed to working alongside the American Economic Association and other organizations to expand the representation in the economics profession of women and individuals from historically underrepresented minority groups. For more than a decade, the NBER has provided support for a number of graduates of the AEA Summer Program to attend the NBER Summer Institute. It has also welcomed the participation of a number of students from underrepresented groups who were associated with post-baccalaureate programs supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Post-baccalaureate Research Opportunities
The NBER provides opportunities for recent college graduates who are interested in pursuing graduate training to participate in research experiences that may guide them towards careers in economics. The NBER hires approximately 20 full-time post-baccalaureate researchers each year to work with affiliated scholars on their research projects. Post-baccalaureate research opportunities are listed on the Employment Opportunities at NBER page.
The NBER is proud to participate in Pathways to Research and Doctoral Career (PREDOC), a consortium of universities and research institutions dedicated to fostering a talented, diverse, and inclusive research community in the quantitative social sciences. Opportunities with the consortium partners can be found at predoc.org.
Many NBER-affiliated scholars hire full-time post-baccalaureate research assistants to help with research projects at their home institutions. The NBER maintains a centralized listing of these opportunities and other related positions.
These positions, which typically last for one or two years, are often stepping-stones to graduate study in economics. The opportunities are usually posted in the summer or early fall, with rolling deadlines throughout the fall and early winter.
Graduate students in economics can participate in NBER activities in a number of ways. Many work as research assistants on projects directed by NBER-affiliated researchers. These positions can develop research skills and may lead to opportunities to co-author papers. NBER does not maintain a centralized hiring program for these positions; affiliated researchers make hiring decisions, and interested students should contact individual researchers directly.
The NBER offers pre-doctoral fellowship programs targeted at graduate students working on particular topic areas. In recent years, there have been programs in behavioral macroeconomics, energy economics, and the evolving nature of work at older ages. These fellowships are funded by federal agencies, private foundations, and the NBER itself. Some NBER pre-doctoral fellows work at the NBER’s office in Cambridge, MA, but many work at their home institutions. Fellowship opportunities are posted in the fall and typically begin the following academic year.
Some fellowships provide support for post-doctoral scholars. In recent years NBER has offered fellowships for early-career scholars working on the economics of health and aging, long-term fiscal policy, and entrepreneurship. Post-doctoral fellows are expected to be resident in Cambridge and to participate in the scholarly life at the NBER and the local economics community.
The NBER sponsors a post-doctoral fellowship for a researcher who is a member of an underrepresented minority group to spend a year carrying out research in any field of economics while based at the NBER’s Cambridge headquarters.
Both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowship opportunities are posted each fall.
The option to register for both pre- and post-doctoral fellowship opportunity announcements is available on the Edit Free Content Preferences page.
The NBER does not maintain a systematic list of job opportunities for new PhDs, like the AEA Job Openings for Economists, but a number of NBER-affiliated scholars hire post-doctoral researchers or fellows through their home institutions. The NBER maintains a centralized listing of these opportunities and other related positions.
It also maintains a listing of graduates from many leading economics PhD programs.
Throughout the Academic Career Lifecycle
Each year, following a highly competitive nomination and review process led by the directors of the 20 NBER research programs and advised by steering committees of leading scholars in each field, the NBER appoints about 60 new affiliated scholars. There are currently about 1600 NBER-affiliated researchers; further information on these researchers and their work may be found at Affiliated Scholars. NBER affiliates may be Faculty Research Fellows, who are typically junior scholars, or Research Associates, who all have tenure at their home institution. All new affiliates must hold faculty appointments at North American colleges or universities.
NBER-affiliated researchers may distribute their research in the NBER working paper series, and they are invited to the meetings of the programs to which they belong. The most recent appointment announcement.
NBER-affiliated researchers may conduct grant-funded research under grants administered by the NBER. The NBER also periodically undertakes larger projects that fund a number of connected research projects by different groups of investigators. Recent examples include Transportation Economics in the 21st Century, Gender in the Economy, and Energy Use in Transportation. NBER will issue an open Call for Proposals for initiatives; research findings from projects under these initiatives are often presented at capstone conferences.
The NBER hosts more than 120 research meetings in a typical year, many of which – including the roughly 50 meetings that comprise the Summer Institute – post open calls for papers. All economists, not just NBER affiliates, are invited to respond to these calls. These calls may be found on the Calls for Papers page.
NBER hosts two types of meetings: program meetings that bring together researchers in a particular field of economics, and meetings focused on a particular topic. While participation in all meetings is by invitation, many researchers without NBER affiliations participate in both types of meetings. In 2022 there were about 2,300 in person participants at Summer Institute and more than 1,200 additional virtual participants. Of the in person participants more than 1,400 were not NBER affiliates and almost 400 were attending their first Summer Institute.
In partnership with the Review of Economics and Statistics, the NBER sponsors a fellowship program for faculty members at historically Black colleges and universities to participate in the Summer Institute. The NBER is committed to providing a welcoming environment for the exchange of ideas at all of its research meetings. The Conference Code of Conduct underscores the institutional commitment to the fair treatment of all participants in a setting that is free of any kind of harassment or discrimination. The NBER welcomes further opportunities to enhance the diversity of the economics profession.