Career Paths and Job Titles

Careers in policy span academia, industry, government, and non-profits. Options in academia can include teaching or conducting research that informs policy. Industry careers might involve working for consulting firms and businesses. Government and non-profit careers could include doing research for think tanks, advocating and writing legislation on Capitol Hill, and informing policy and operations in the military or other governmental departments.

Some job titles include Legislative Assistant, Research Professor, Science & Technology Policy Fellow, Chief Policy Advisor, Policy Officer, Policy Analyst, and Research Staff.

MIT alumni in policy careers have worked in the U.S. House of Representatives, in think tanks such as Brookings and RAND Corporation, and at research institutions like the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI).  

What to study if you’re interested in a career in Policy

Many alumni enter careers in policy directly from undergraduate school with a vast range of majors including Political Science, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Latin American and Latino Studies. Pick the course that you are most excited about, even if it’s a STEM course, as this will likely align with the areas of policy work that you are most interested in.

If you’re interested in getting an advanced degree, consider degrees such as the Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) or Master’s of Public Policy (MPP) or PhD programs that focus on your specific interests within policy. There are Master’s and PhD programs such as MIT’s Technology and Policy Program (TPP), the Department of Economics’ Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), the IDSS Social and Engineering Systems, and DUSP’s Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP), which combine policy and science to tackle social challenges. Check out this listing of graduate programs with public affairs specialties from U.S. News & World Report to explore programs with a policy focus.  

Job and internship search tips for roles in the government

Federal, state, and local governments recruit throughout the year, with summer internships posted in the winter. Some student hiring programs, such as the Pathways program, have recruitment cycles more aligned with the academic calendar. There are often fellowships and scholarships available for students interested in working in government, so inquire with agencies and departments that interest you about what may be available.

Applications should be made through formal portals like USAJOBS, and often require resumes in a government-specific format. Additional search sites include Go Government and Public Service Careers.  

Max Kampelman Paid Fellowships

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe seeks candidates for its Max Kampelman Fellowship. The program is open to recent undergraduates (the beginning of the fellowship term should be less than one year since graduation), current graduate students, and …

By External Source
External Source
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Exploring emerging topics in artificial intelligence policy

The second AI Policy Forum Symposium convened global stakeholders across sectors to discuss critical policy questions in artificial intelligence.

By Terri Park | MIT Schwarzman College of Computing | June 28, 2022

Members of the public sector, private sector, and academia convened …

By Libby Doucet
Libby Doucet Assistant Director, Career Advising and Training
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Exploring careers? Start with the Career Exploration Series!

CAPD is coordinating the second annual, institute-wide Career Exploration Series that begins on September 12th and runs through IAP! This series is a collaboration between MIT departments, programs, employers, and alumni to help all students learn about the different career and graduate/professional school options available to you.   

Visit the events page …

By Tianna Ransom
Tianna Ransom Assistant Director, Career Exploration
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Graduate Education Now Has Its Own Caucus in the House of Representatives

Adapted from Kelley Karnes, Council on Graduate School (original article here)

The Graduate Research and Development (GRAD) Caucus launched in July. This new bipartisan caucus in the House of Representatives was formed to address the needs and issues of graduate …

By Simona Rosu
Simona Rosu Senior Assistant Director, Postdoctoral Career and Professional Development
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U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program

“Experience” Hands-On Diplomacy as a U.S. Foreign Service Intern.

Spend two summers in an experiential-learning program designed to expose undergraduate students to U.S. diplomacy and the work of the Department of State. Established in 2014, this merit and needs-based opportunity is available to …

By External Source
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Featured Resources


Green Jobs Board from Brown Girl Green

Since our founding in 1999 as Opportunity Knocks, one of the first job boards focused exclusively on mission-driven careers, the …

Job board of jobs working for the US government.

Job and internship openings submitted by Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) Member Schools and industry employers.

White House Internship Program

The White House Internship Program is a public service leadership and development program that provides emerging leaders with an opportunity …