Assistant Director of Research and Policy

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The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to promoting access to and success in higher education for all students, with a special focus on underserved populations. Based in Washington, D.C., IHEP develops innovative, equity-centric policy- and practice-oriented research to guide policymakers and education leaders, who develop high-impact policies that will address our nation’s most pressing education challenges.  


IHEP is seeking an Assistant Director of Research and Policy to join its policy research team, which engages in federal- and state-level research and policy advocacy on a variety of topics, including postsecondary data, need-based financial aid, and college completion. The Assistant Director would manage IHEP research and policy projects and portions of the team to ensure quality execution, timeliness, and impact. Reporting to the Vice President of Policy Research, s/he would work to help inform the strategic direction of the Policy Research team, collaborate with the Applied Research team, and support organizational goals.


  • Assist the Vice President of Policy Research (VPPR) in directing a diverse portfolio of IHEP policy research projects, including allocation of personnel and other resources, and oversight of budgets, deadlines, and deliverables.
  • Supervise research analyst(s) and develop their capacity to engage in effective policy research, and project and budget management. Work closely with project team members to conceptualize, execute, and offer quality control for research, analysis, and writing products.
  • Collaborate closely with a second Assistant Director to ensure streamlined team operations, build team morale, maintain communications across projects, and encourage a collaborative work environment.
  • In partnership with the VPPR, conceptualize, design, and complete new research projects to advance IHEP’s policy agenda, and collaborate with the leadership team to secure funding and implement the new projects. Typically, these quantitative and qualitative research studies of postsecondary education issues include literature and policy scans, and data analyses.
  • Conduct policy research and write reports, briefs, concept papers, PowerPoint presentations, memos, and other content to disseminate research and policy analysis to key policy- and practice audiences to influence decision-making. Written products may include blogs, opinion pieces, and ghostwriting testimonies or other public statements for senior leadership.
  • Monitor and analyze developments on postsecondary education issues in legislation, regulation, and the media. Research and prepare internal and external memos and reports that convey the impact of these policy proposals, and respond rapidly to time-sensitive requests from media and policymakers.
  • Participate in proposal and grant report writing and build relationships with funders to ensure financial stability of the team.
  • Foster and maintain IHEP’s relationships with partnering organizations, funders, and other researchers.
  • Publicly advance IHEP’s advocacy agenda through public speaking engagements.
  • Contribute substantively to strategic planning efforts for the department and organization.
  • Build connections between the policy and applied research teams. Collaborate with, and provide assistance to other departments and staff as required.
  • Other duties, as requested.

We are looking for a combination of the following qualifications and experiences.

  • At least a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of five years of work experience, preferably in a policy research environment. Advanced degree in an education- or policy-related field preferred.
  • A solid foundation of knowledge around higher education policy and landscape.
  • Knowledge and experience with quantitative and qualitative research methods. Substantive experience with postsecondary datasets (such as IPEDS, BPS, and NPSAS) highly preferred.
  • A passion for, or personal connection to, equity, education, public policy, or economic mobility issues.
  • Ability to travel.

Excellent verbal, interpersonal, and written communication skills with a record of publications and presentations.

  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Success leading/championing projects.
  • Strong analytical, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills to work in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to balance multiple competing priorities and operate on short timelines.
  • A continual desire to learn, and a drive for excellence.


Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. This position is based in Washington, D.C., and will include some travel. IHEP offers a comprehensive benefits package.

Interested candidates should submit the following documents and apply through this website.

  1. A cover letter,
  2. Resume, and
  3. Short writing sample (no more than five pages, an excerpt from a longer paper is acceptable.)
Location: Washington, DC
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