Evidence-Based Policy Research Methods

Application Procedure

    Developing competence and specific skills to effectively perform evidence-based academic or policy-oriented research is essential for knowledge creation and decision-making, whether in business, government or civil society. The Evidence-Based Policy Research Methods (EPRM) course, offered by United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and social Research institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) and its School of Governance aims to equip participants with the fundamental tools for designing and analysing evidence-based research.

    More specifically, the EPRM course will train participants in:

    1. Designing a research proposal for evidence-based research in the workplace or in a research environment
    2. Analysing qualitative or quantitative data
    3. Attaining current knowledge in a specialisation area
    4. Academic writing and dissemination of the proposed research

    In order to ensure the development of a quality research proposal, participants will receive continuous personal feedback on their proposal by researchers and professors at UNU-MERIT and Maastricht University. In order to build an evidence-based proposal, participants of EPRM will also have full access to a large selection of books, journals and databases available through the Maastricht University Library.

    Who Should Apply?

    The programme is designed for professionals who aim to increase their research skills, but are unable to leave their job for longer periods. The programme assumes participants will be able to spend a significant amount of time on the courses, yet does not expect the participants to stop with their work but rather to combine the training with the job. We target researchers from academic institutions or policy makers in developing or developed countries seeking to strengthen their research competencies and outputs. This programme can serve as capacity building for staff in universities, research units within businesses, NGOs, ministries and think tanks.

    The programme fills the gap between master graduation, and the start of a research, either for employment or in a PhD programme. After completion of this programme, you are better equipped to apply for PhD programmes, or engage in research activities within your own institute.

    Since the course covers research skills that transcend different disciplines we welcome any participants who wish to update or ascertain these skills. However, in order to guarantee specialised feedback by professors and researchers proposal writing, we recommend applicants to review ongoing  research activities at UNU-MERIT/School of Governance.

    Custom Designed Course

    EPRM has been designed with working professionals in mind. By offering a blended course, with online and face-to-face (FTF) modules, the course allows participants to update their research skills with minimal obstruction to existing commitments.

    EPRM also offers a specialised module that is selected by participants based on their research interest. This flexible module is built into the course to allow for a specialisation in your area of interest and assist in the development of the proposal.

    Programme and Course Certificate

    Students who complete the full programme (i.e. pass the (online) courses and succeed in presenting a satisfactory research proposal) will receive a certificate.

    Upon successful completion of one or several modules as part of the modular approach, participants will receive a course certificate for the course in question.

    Upon completion of all modules (within maximum 3 years counting from the starting date) participants also receive the complete EPRM certificate.

    About the Host University

    The United Nations University – MERIT (UNU-MERIT) is a joint research and training institute of United Nations University and Maastricht University, based in the south of the Netherlands. The institute explores the social, political and economic factors that drive technological innovation, with a particular focus on creation, diffusion and access to knowledge.

    The Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (MGSoG) founded in 2004, prepares professionals and researchers for policy analysis, risk assessment, policy design, policy monitoring, policy evaluation and methods and techniques of policy research. In 2011, the two institutes joined forces, creating a leading research environment covering all aspects of governance in domestic and global organisations, from risk assessment to policy analysis, design and evaluation.

    For more information, visit the UNU-MERIT website.


    Please check the webpage for the most updated information: https://www.merit.unu.edu/training/eprm



    The EPRM course is designed for individuals with an interest in obtaining new knowledge or updating existing knowledge in research skills. We welcome mid-career professionals as well as junior professionals, who do not fear reading research. The EPRM course can be of particular benefit for policy makers, practitioners as well researchers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We are looking for applicants with a Master’s degree who have strong academic records, professional and/or volunteer experience, interest in research and a special interest in evidence-based policy analysis. We welcome fellows from all over the world representing a wide variety of cultures and disciplines. The programme is tailored to synergise the various backgrounds.

    We fully understand it may be challenging for working professionals to leave their work environment for several months. We are aware that participants in the EPRM have responsibilities at home, both at the work place as well as within their families. These obligations leave less time to spend on educational programmes, and make full-time education hardly possible. Therefore, we designed the programme to support your needs. The programme requires only three weeks presence in Maastricht, and offers flexibility in the timing of those weeks. All other content can be followed in online components.

    We believe that our programme can be of benefit to:

    • Policy makers (e.g. working in Think Tanks, Multilateral org., Government Ministries, private business firms, NGOs.)
    • (Junior) Researchers who engage in research activities in their work
    • Graduates from Master’s studies, with an interest in pursuing a PhD research
    • Practitioners implementing policy.

    We are also open to speak with employers, who would like their staff to be trained in evidence-based research in general, and in a specific content area. We can also develop content modules for a specific audience, that would fit in the set-up of EPRM.

    Academic Requirements

    • Participants are required to hold a Master’s degree in a relevant field of specialisation, including Economics, Public Policy, Political Science, International Relations, Governance, Law, Business Administration and Social Sciences, Engineering, Sociology.
    • Since our aim is to provide the best training and supervision, we refer you to our research websites for more detailed information on our topics of interest and specialisation.

    Language Requirements

    • Adequate level of spoken and written English.
    • Applicants whose native language is not English or whose previous education has been in a language other than English, must submit evidence of proficiency in the English language by achieving the following scores:
      • IELTS at least 7.0
      • TOEFL paper based: at least (PBT): 600
      • TOEFL Internet based (IBT): at least 100

    If you sign up for the full programme (14 weeks), you will be required to spend two weeks in Maastricht for Module 1 (Research Design) and one week for Module 5 at the end of the programme. The optional recap week (one week before Module 5) also takes place in Maastricht, but is voluntary and does not necessarily represent a full-time workload.


    What if I cannot sign up to the full (14-week) programme? What are my alternatives?

    It is also possible to sign up for individual courses within the programme. This is referred to as the modular approach.

    I am a working professional. Will I be able to complete the EPRM programme while working?

    The EPRM was designed for working professionals. Only Module 1 and Module 5 will require your full-time presence in Maastricht. All other modules require an estimated workload of 10-15 hours per week, and can be done in the evening and weekend hours. Our previous participants were all working full-time, and successfully completed the programme.

    I understand that the EPRM programme is offered as a blended programme, i.e. a mix of on-site and online course. How much time do I need to spend in Maastricht?

    If you sign up for the full programme (14 weeks), you will be required to spend two weeks in Maastricht for Module 1 (Research Design) and one week for Module 5 at the end of the programme. The optional recap week (one week before Module 5) also takes place in Maastricht, but is voluntary and does not necessarily represent a full-time workload.

    Are there any rules about the order in which courses are taken in the modular approach?

    Yes. Module 1 must be completed before you can take any of the subsequent modules (Modules 2 to 4). Once Module 1 has been completed, you are free to take any other module. All Modules from 1 to 4 need to be completed before Module 5 can be started. It is recommended to stick to the order of the modules.

    What if I cannot take all the modules in one run (e.g. spring 2016) but still want to complete the entire programme and receive the certificate?

    You have the option to start the programme in one run, and complete remaining courses in a later run. You will receive Module certificates, and if you complete all courses included in the programme within a 3-year period you will be rewarded with the programme certificate.

    What level (Master/PhD) are the courses offered in EPRM? Can I transfer the courses to a PhD programme?

    EPRM is a post-graduate training programme and is not directly linked to a Master’s or PhD programme. It is a programme jointly offered by University of Maastricht and UNU-MERIT, and upon successful completion you will obtain a certificate with ECTS credit equivalence. The university where you pursue your Master’s or PhD studies will decide whether transfer of ECTS credits earned in EPRM will be accepted.

    Will completing the EPRM programme enhance my chances of being accepted to the GPAC2 programme at UNU-MERIT/School of Governance (Maastricht University) /  or another PhD programme?

    Completion of the EPRM programme does not guarantee entrance to GPAC2 or any other PhD programme. The objective, however, is that after successful completion of the EPRM programme participants will be more informed on what research is, what are the skills required to do good research, and how to draft a better proposal. In addition, we can after this course advise you if we think you should do GPAC2 with us or not. Overall, the goal of the EPRM programme is to enhance your chances to receive admission for future PhD applications.

    What is the optional re-cap course?

    The EPRM programme consists of Modules 1 to 5. The optional re-cap course is an extra option that is available in case of demand from participants. The “optional Recap course” was included to give participants the possibility to catch up with any matter left behind from previous modules and to work on their proposal (Module 5). After signing up for this optional course, participants will have daily meetings with a tutor who will assist them with unfinished assignments or the preparation of their proposal. For participants who have completed all of the assignments from previous modules and who are on track with their proposal development, it is not necessary to sign up for this re-cap course, hence the word “optional” in the title.

    What is the difference between modules with or without ECTS credits?

    By signing up for ECTS credits, you will receive a final numbered grade between 1-10, a motivation/explanation for your grades and the number of ECTS credits that you can transfer to another university, in case you choose to continue your studies after the programme. Each module has a different number of credits attached to it. How other universities choose to value the EPRM courses will be assessed on an individual basis. If you take the modules without ECTS credits, you will work with the same material and receive a Pass or Fail mark in your modules.


    Please check the webpage for the most updated information: https://www.merit.unu.edu/training/eprm



    Boschstraat 24
    6211 AX Maastricht
    The Netherlands
    T: +31 43 388 44 00
    Email: eprm@merit.unu.edu