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Economics and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Economics and Education

In the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis



Mehmet Alper Dincer, Research Coordinator, Education Reform Initiative (ERI)

Mehmet Alper Dincer
Economics and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, Ph.D. 2013

Research Coordinator
Education Reform Initiative (ERI), Sabancı University, Istanbul, Turkey

While I was working as a research assistant in Istanbul, Turkey between 2008 and 2009 my primary field of work was economics of education. The field was a fertile ground for research; data sources were abundant and research on this area were very limited. However, prospects to develop as a researcher were narrow and I was in need of carrying my research skills to another, more rigorous, level which would help me to produce robust academic work addressing key policy issues. Therefore, discovering the Economics and Education program at Teachers College (TC) was a live-saver and a major turnaround in my professional career.

After four years at TC, currently I am the research coordinator of Education Reform Initiative (ERI), an education policy think-tank at Sabancı University, Istanbul. At ERI, we focus on education policy issues mainly in Turkey; however our activities also extent to other countries in the region of the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I collaborate with a team of policy analysts, research assistants and consultants in order to identify policy and knowledge gaps in education policy. Aiming to address these gaps, we form the research agenda of ERI and produce and commission research activities in collaboration with governments and international organizations. The analytical skills as well as the network I acquired in the Economics and Education program greatly contributes to the production of our research and policy reports, which enables us to build our advocacy efforts on a data-based evidence-driven solid base.

Michelle Hodara, Senior Researcher, Education Northwest

Michelle Hodara
Economics and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, Ph.D. 2012

Senior Researcher
Education Northwest, Portland, Oregon            

As an undergraduate, I studied economics and, after college, I was a Special Education teacher at a public school. My early academic interests and professional experiences motivated me to pursue a field where I could use economics to better understand educational institutions, interventions, and programs.  The Economics and Education program was a perfect fit for me. The courses, taught by excellent faculty, provided a solid foundation in economic theory and methods and developed content expertise in important areas of education policy. As a doctoral student, I had the opportunity to apply what I learned in my courses to conduct policy-relevant research at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College.

I am currently a Senior Researcher at Education Northwest in Portland, Oregon, where I lead research on the high school-to-college transition and work with schools leaders, policy-makers, and other education stakeholders on using data and evidence to make decisions regarding how to improve students’ college access and success.  Using the economic methods I learned in my program and at CCRC, I analyze large, statewide longitudinal datasets and design program evaluations. I often have to assess if the available data and research context allow for a causal research design, or if using other analytical methods can provide actionable information to education stakeholders.

I am still connected to Teachers College in a number of ways. During the dissertation process, I forged a strong connection with other doctoral students in EPSA department programs, and we continue to support each other today by trading professional and career advice.  I also continue to conduct research with my CCRC colleagues.

Anindita (Dita) Nugroho, Research Fellow, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)

Anindita (Dita) Nugroho
Economics and Education Program
Teachers College, Columbia University, M.A. 2013

Research Fellow
Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)

I took time off from my role as a Research Fellow with the Australian Council for Educational Research to enroll in the Master’s program at Teachers College. In that role I was a consultant to a number of national education ministries and international agencies, running large-scale surveys of teachers and students as well as providing policy and programming advice. After two years, I wanted to take time to develop new skills in rigorous applied research to inform education policy making, with a particular interest in experimental and quasi-experimental techniques. The Economics and Education program at TC was unlike any available in the Asia Pacific region.

The highlights of the year I spent in the program were many. They included engaging instruction on applied statistics by Professors Elizabeth Tipton, Judith Scott-Clayton and Robert Shapiro, as well as the week spent in Washington, D.C. as part of Professor Sharon Kagan’s Federal Policy Institute. I also had the invaluable opportunity to be a teaching assistant for Professor Elizabeth Tipton’s class and in my final semester, as part of the Education Pioneers program, I had a ten-week placement at the New York State Education Department. Being at Columbia and New York City also allowed me to attend talks and seminars by some of the writers and academics I have admired for many years. Most of all, however, I valued the support and friendship of my endlessly interesting cohort.

Since completing my degree, I have returned to Australia and traveled to Ethiopia and Indonesia to undertake research projects with topics as varied as social norms education equity, to alumni outcomes of scholarship holders. Currently I am working on a survey of 900 Indonesian schools to examine the reasons behind and implications of teacher absence. I am also working on a smaller consultancy on social inclusion in the higher education sector in Indonesia. I regularly access the skills, knowledge and network I gained at TC and believe I will continue to do so.

Our Alumni have also held the following positions:
Title Employer Year Degree
Staff Associate CIESIN Earth Institute, Columbia University 2009 MA
Consultant The World Bank 2011 MA
HR Planning Officer Panasonic 2009 MA
Content Developer Diversity Abroad 2011 MA
Assistant Director Carred Development Center, Trinity College 2009 MA
Research Associate World Education Services (WES) 2012 MA
Senior Consultant Price Waterhouse Coopers 2011 MA
Asia Program Specialist Teachers College, Columbia University 2011 MA
Senior Global Contracts Representative Bloomberg Finance LP 2011 MA
Consultant Ilia State University 2011 MA
MBA Candidate Wharton School 2010 MA
Consultant Namibian Ministry of Trade and Industry 2010 MA
Relationship Manager United Nations Global Compact 2009 MA
Education Officer Ministry of Education of Singapore 2011 MA
Education Specialist DotLib/Encyclopaedia  Britannica 2011 MA
Senior Research Assistant Community College Research Center 2011 MA
Senior Associate Discover Financial Services 2012 MA
Data Analyst Educational Testing Service (ETS) 2013 MA
Executive Director India School Leadership Insitute (ISLI) 2012 MA
Associate China Securities Co Ltd 2011 MA
Associate Director NYC Department of Education 2013 MA
Director of Data Management Democracy Prep 2012 MA
Program Manager NYC Department of Education 2011 MA
Professor National University of Mongolia 2010 PHD
Faculty of School Education Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile 2010 PHD
Adjunct Assistant Professor Columbia University 2011 PHD
Policy Research Associate WestEd 2012 PHD
Policy Analyst Education Reform Initiative, Sabanci University 2013 PHD
Assistant Professor Universidad Icesi 2013 PHD
Education Economist Economic Policy Institute 2013 PHD
Senior Researcher Education Northwest 2012 PHD
Education Specialist Columbia University Earth Institute 2011 PHD
Research Associate Center Benefit-Cost Studies in Education 2013 PHD
Associate Director for Research Columbia University 2009 PHD
Research Assistant Columbia University 2011 PHD
Assistant Professor Chinese University of Hong Kong 2010 PHD
Research Economist Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics 2009 PHD
Research Analyst/Associate Eduventures 2011 PHD
Researcher Mathematica Policy Research 2011 PHD
Economics Professor St. Louis University 2010 PHD
Research Director The National School Climate Center 2011 PHD
Policy and Plan Analyst Ministry of Education 2009 PHD
Assistant Professor Wakayama University 2012 PHD
Postdoctoral Research Associate Community College Research Center 2013 PHD
Postdoctoral Research Associate Community College Research Center 2013 PHD
Postdoctoral Research Associate Community College Research Center 2011 PHD
Database Manager and Research Analyst Community College Research Center 2013 PHD