Career Options Series: Science Policy

December 10, 2015

OITE’s Career Options Series will give you a snapshot overview of different career paths. The goal of this series is to help you explore a variety of different options by connecting you to new resources. A large part of making a good career decision is done by gathering information about that field. We encourage you to follow up this online research by conducting informational interviews with individuals in each field. You can check out our first career option guide on Public Health here.

What is Science Policy?Image of two green street signs with the word "science" on one and "policy" on the other
Science Policy falls under two areas: Policy for Science and Science for Policy. Policy for Science looks at developing and determining STEM education and R&D funding priorities and directions as well as establishing guidelines and regulations on the practice and conduct of science. Whereas, Science for Policy looks at informing and enhancing the development, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and resulting programs and regulations.
– From the resource: AAAS S&T Policy Fellowships at

Sample Job Titles
(Senior) Science Policy Analyst; Public Health Analyst; Director of Science Policy; Public Affairs Director; Program Officer; Health Science Policy Analyst; Public Health Analyst; Scientific Program Analyst; Science and Technology Policy Analyst; Policy Analyst Manager; Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs; Advocate, Administrator; Health Policy Advisor; Scientific Program Analyst; Policy Specialist; Government Relations Manager; Director, Research Programs Advocacy; etc.

Sample Work Settings
The majority (more than half) of these jobs are in non-profits followed by government, academia and then industry.

Sample Employers
American Institutes for Research
Department of Health and Human Services
Friends of Cancer Research
National Science Foundation
*Plus, many more! Do a “Science Policy” search on to get a sense of employers who are hiring in this field.

Science Policy work involves:
• Assessing scientific data
• Writing briefs/memos (for internal audiences and external audiences like Congress)
• Communicating science to the general public, scientific audiences, lawmakers
• Coordinating volunteers, committee members, scientists
• Program management of seminars, coalitions, etc.

Key Skills
– Broad knowledge of science
– Knowledge of science policy
– People skills
– Communication, both written and verbal
– Analytical
– Project/Time Management

How to get started
Fellowships e.g., AAAS Science & Technology Fellowship
Internships e.g., science societies (generally unpaid)
Details e.g., NIH institutes; 1 day/week
Networking e.g., With speakers at NIH global health seminars
Volunteering e.g., Meet-ups like DC Science Policy Happy Hour Group
Additional education/degrees: Enroll in science and technology policy classes (GW and JHU offer a few)

Professional Organizations
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Chemical Society – Science Policy
Network of School of Public Policy, Affairs & Administration

Additional Resources
OITE’s How To Series: Science Policy
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
Office of Science Policy at NIH

Coming up in the Career Options Series, we will be highlighting the field of Tech Transfer.


“A Day in the Life of…” Upcoming Series on Career Options for Scientists

September 7, 2010

CapitolSo, just what does a science policy analyst do every day? A science museum exhibits coordinator? A VP of drug development? OITE aims to answer these questions via an interactive, online chat series this fall.

The series will be held from 12:00 – 1:00 pm every third Thursday from September through December, which includes: Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, and Dec. 16.

Topics covered will include careers in science policy, science writing, drug development in industry, and science education.

Trainees at every stage are welcome to participate and are encouraged to bring questions to our “speakers” during the live chats. After each discussion, the transcript of the entire chat will be posted on this site.

To kick off the series, we will explore the work of a science policy analyst.

EVENT: “A Day in the Life of…A Public Health Analyst”

GUEST: David Kosub, Ph.D., Public Health Analyst, NIAID, NIH

DATE: Thursday, September 16, 2010

TIME: 12 pm – 1:00 pm EST

Bring your questions and comments, as this live event is your chance to learn more about different careers!  To set up an email reminder for the event, or to participate in the discussion the day of the event, click here.

Chat with you next Thursday!

REAL WORLD NIH: Thursday, June 24, 10:00 AM

June 21, 2010

Join us LIVE this Thursday for our first REAL WORLD chat with a current NIH trainee! The trainee joining us for this live, online chat on Thursday has been invited to interview for a position at the intersection of science policy, science communication, and grants administration.

To give you a better sense of the position, read through the following phrases from the job description:

  • Design and conduct evaluations that will examine many qualitative and quantitative endpoints that measure scientific productivity, scientific and public health impact, and economic return on investment
  • Write, review, and edit materials, at various levels of technical difficulty, for use in communicating information effectively and serve as the agency representative at meetings related to the areas of responsibility
  • Synthesize and simplify scientific information from all available sources into capsule narratives, determine appropriate presentation style and format, and graphically enhance scientific documents to more clearly demonstrate scientific concepts
  • Determine and implement the best approach for quantitative and qualitative assessment
  • Evaluate and communicate important scientific advances made by grantees to a diverse audience comprised of scientific professionals, congressional staff and committees, other federal, state, or local agencies and specifically-interested segments of the lay public
  • Develop and maintain contacts in scientific evaluation
  • Provide an assessment of a scientific field
  • Develop a needs analysis in which the current state of the science is evaluated and future needs are assessed

The trainee interviewing for this job has a few questions she’d like to ask before her interview takes place. Join our conversation this Thursday and have your questions answered…whether you ask them yourself or not.


LIVE – Thursday, June 24, 2010

10:00am – 10:30am

Before Thursday, visit the link above to set an event reminder for yourself. After the chat, the text of the conversation will be available at the same site.

Join us for the discussion, send in your questions, or just sit back, read, and learn!