Science Policy

What it is

“Policy” means laws, regulations and priorities that collectively define how national issues are addressed by government and society. Science policy can be understood in two ways: science for policy (the use of scientific data to inform laws and regulations) and policy for science (the rules, regulations and priorities that guide research funding decisions, and those that affect the ultimate impact of scientific discoveries). Science policy professionals do secondary research on diverse scientific subjects relevant to current policy and present their findings in written and oral reports. Policy work is done in a wide variety of organizations such as nonprofits, think tanks, government agencies, even corporations.

Starting points

A superb starting point is the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship; similar fellowships also offered by some state governments. But with the right background, one may simply apply for policy analyst jobs.


From a policy analyst position, one can progress in a multitude of directions, including into other types of organizations and up their respective management chains. One can even move out of policy into some other career, if desired. Policy analysis experience is very versatile.


All STEM disciplines are valued in the field of science policy.

Personality and outlook

This occupation is more scholarly and text-centered than most, making it an appealing choice for someone who is deeply interested in ideas and their implications and who likes to approach these ideas through reading, writing and conversation. It is helpful to feel comfortable in the backstage role of providing information to decision-makers rather than being the decision-maker.


Pick a policy issue you care about and read about it daily. Blog, tweet and comment about it to slowly establish yourself as an informed and trustworthy public voice on that topic. Identify organizations related to your issue. Conduct informational interviews with policy analysts and AAAS fellows.

Real Life Examples