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Research Analyst - Cyber (Entry-Level PhD)


Apply your analytical skills to assess Department of Defense information systems to support military personnel across the Department. Provide rigorous independent analysis and insights to key decision-makers to ensure that our warfighters are equipped with safe, effective, and suitable systems. Make a tangible impact for mission-driven work with great pay and benefits.

This position is in IDA’s Operational Evaluation Division (OED), located in Alexandria, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. OED collaborates with civilian government agencies to independently test and evaluate military technology to support our warfighters and ensure taxpayer funds are used appropriately.

What is the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA)?

IDA is a non-profit that is uniquely positioned to answer the most challenging U.S. security and science questions with objective and rigorous analysis leveraging extraordinary scientific, technical, and analytic expertise. Work at IDA is conducted in a team environment and often involves a multi-disciplinary approach.

What does research look like in this position?

  • Conduct independent, in-depth analyses of test results to assess whether Department of Defense software meets end-user needs under realistic conditions in conducting their missions, including human factors such as usability.
  • Work independently, and in small teams, to advocate for adequate testing to ensure safe, effective, and suitable information systems.
  • Assist in planning and designing test strategies and events focused on software, hardware, and end-users. 
  • Present findings to senior- and mid-level Defense officials (e.g., presidential appointees, generals, admirals) through oral presentations and written reports.
  • Develop firsthand knowledge of information systems and the missions they support by participating in test events and analyzing results.

What qualifications and skill-sets do you need?


  • Candidate must meet one of the following education/experience combinations:
    • PhD in a STEM field (such as Physics, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Science), or any other data-intensive research field; OR
    • Masters degree (same fields as above) along with 10+ years of work experience in research, system design/engineering, system operations, or policy; OR
    • Masters degree (same fields as above) combined with military experience in logistics, supply, or maintenance
  • Have an interest in learning fundamentals of cybersecurity, cyber operations, and operational test and evaluation to explore implications of operating in contested cyberspace.
  • Proficiency with compilation and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
  • Ability to clearly explain technical analysis and results to a non-technical audience
  • Availability to travel approximately 25% time
  • Successful completion of a background check and ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance.


  • Prior military, DOD acquisition, and/or test and evaluation experience
  • Experience with statistical software or programming languages (e.g. R, Python, or Mathematica)
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a TS/SCI clearance

Why work at IDA?

  • Comprehensive benefits including diverse health insurance options, generous 11% contribution to retirement, parental leave, 20 days paid time off (which increases with tenure), and relocation reimbursement;
  • Mission-oriented work at a non-profit that supports and protects our warfighters; as a non-profit, IDA employees are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSFL);
  • Professional development including tuition reimbursement, internal and external trainings, and funding for researcher-pitched projects and publications;·
  • A strong employee and corporate culture of work-life balance, including commitment to average 40-hour work weeks through flex time, partial telework options, and expectation of communication only during core business hours;
  • A brand-new facility located in Alexandria’s high-tech corridor in Potomac Yard; amenities include a cafeteria, grab-n-go café, gym, and close proximity to local dining and shopping;
  • Easy access to Potomac Yard Metro stop and Potomac Yard DASH bus stop. Employer contributes $300/month (IRS max) to commuter benefits.

What are the next steps?

  • Complete the application and submit your resume.
  • The interview process consists of three steps
    • A short screening call with HR;
    • A 30 min – 60 min screening call with researchers; and
    • A full day interview with various researchers, HR, and OED Director; includes giving a one-hour presentation on a research project.
  • Prior to the full day interview, you will be asked to provide:
  • Transcripts (unofficial accepted)
  • 3 contacts that are willing to write letters of recommendation
  • A writing sample.
  • You will NOT be asked to do a take home / mock work assignment.


U.S. Citizenship is required

Ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance is required

IDA is an equal opportunity employer committed to providing a fair recruiting process and working environment free from discrimination. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. Click here to learn more about IDA's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.