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ASA/NSF/BLS Research Fellow Program

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in cooperation with the American Statistical Association (ASA), under a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), offers our Research Fellow Program. The program's objective is to facilitate collaboration between academic scholars and government researchers in survey methodology, statistics, economics, data sciences, and social sciences. Research Fellows are provided the unique opportunity to address some of the complex methodological problems and analytic issues relevant to BLS programs.

BLS offers two research fellow opportunities. One will focus broadly on statistical, economic, or behavioral science research, and the other addressing topics in data science.

Fellowship applicants should have a recognized research record and considerable expertise in their area of proposed research. Applicants must submit a detailed research proposal, which will be evaluated on the applicability of the research to BLS programs, the value of the proposed research to science, and the quality of the applicant's research record. We encourage potential applicants to contact us before submitting a proposal to discuss how to best focus their work to meet BLS research needs.

General Information

We are looking for professionals in the fields of statistics, mathematics, economics, survey methodology, behavioral science, data science, and other related fields to participate in the ASA/NSF/BLS Fellowship Program. Travel to our Washington, DC office is currently unavailable until BLS relocates to the Suitland Federal Center. Fellows will work from their home institution to work and collaborate virtually with BLS staff on complex issues of significant interest to BLS.

The short-term projects provide professionals with a unique and challenging experience outside their normal work environment. BLS gains input and solutions from experts with the specialized training and experience needed for these efforts.

We encourage applicants to contact BLS well in advance of the deadline to discuss potential proposals.  Although not required, this early collaboration is very helpful in ensuring that the proposal effectively addresses the complexities often encountered in BLS data. 

All proposals undergo two rounds of review, first by internal BLS staff, then by an external panel of experts. Reviewers consider a number of factors, including whether the proposal is (1) relevant and important to BLS, (2) of sound scientific merit, and (3) feasible, given the resources available. This process ensures the fellowship program provides high-quality research that benefits both BLS and the Fellow.

Fellows are reimbursed by the ASA. Salaries received by Fellows will be commensurate with their qualifications and experience. Fringe benefits, travel, and relocation support are negotiable.

Who is eligible?

Applicants should have an established research record in their field. They must be employed by a U.S. institution of higher learning or a non-profit institution (IRS code 501(c)(3) entities) and are expected to retain their position for the duration of the fellowship. Fellows will continue to receive their salary and benefits through their institution.

Applicants do not need to be U.S. citizens. Fellows must pass all the requirements for a National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) background check and provide adequate forms of identity documentation.

U.S. government employees are not eligible.

We will consider proposals from applicants working on their research independently or with a qualified graduate student.

What's the best way to find a suitable project?

The Fellowship program is an opportunity for applicants to apply their expertise to help solve BLS challenges. We are looking for research topics related to BLS work, such as:

It may also be helpful to review the research topics of previous ASA/NSF/BLS Fellows.

We find the greatest benefit when applicants work with BLS staff members to identify a mutually agreeable project before submitting a proposal. Applicants who want to know if their area of expertise is needed at BLS should contact us, to identify an appropriate BLS contact.

How long does a Fellowship last?

Fellowship appointments typically range from 4 to 6 months, but can last up to a year, subject to the availability of Fellowship funds. Appointment terms are flexible and can be full-time, part-time or split into multiple terms. Applicants should specify approximate dates for proposed projects.

Do Fellows have to come to Washington, DC?

Fellows may use BLS data in their research and will interact with BLS staff. While the BLS relocates to the Suitland Federal Center, research should be conducted at the applicant’s home institution. The expectation is that the applicant will be available to meet virtually with BLS staff as part of the research project. It is expected that Fellows will conduct their work in a manner that encourages frequent interaction and collaboration with BLS staff.  Periodic travel to BLS may be required to facilitate collaboration, special events, and presentations.

What does the Fellowship funding cover?

Budgets submitted for Fellowships may include the following:

  • Salary
  • Fringe benefits
  • Travel necessary for the work and to attend conferences
  • Travel to and from Washington, DC
  • Housing while in Washington, DC
  • Research Support

Budgets may not include:

  • Indirect costs
  • Computer or software (these will be provided to Fellows for use while at BLS)
  • Books or other reference materials
  • Fees for dissemination of research
  • Meals

Fellows will have access to resources at BLS including technical support and library facilities. They will also have access to in-house databases and computer facilities including a laptop computer, a UNIX workstation, micro-to-mainframe communication links, and statistical software. If specialized software and hardware are needed, then please include those items in the budget proposal, as funds may be available to accommodate those needs.

In addition, funds are available to provide software and hardware accommodations for persons with disabilities.

How do I apply?

You will need to provide ASA with the following:

  1. Curriculum vitae
  2. Names and addresses of three references
  3. A detailed research proposal that includes:
    1. A short descriptive project title
    2. An abstract (one-half page or less)
    3. A proposed project term (approximate dates)
    4. Background information on research topic, references, etc.
    5. A statement of relevant work already accomplished
    6. Proposed research with sufficient detail for evaluation of expected results
    7. The significance of expected results
    8. The benefits of the work to BLS
    9. The advantages of conducting the research at BLS
    10. Resource requirements (including salary, fringe benefits, and relocation and travel expenses)

Contact us for further information about the program.

 Last Modified Date: September 19, 2023