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Faculty & Research

Bridget Terry Long

Saris Professor of Education and Economics
(On Leave 2017-2018)

Bridget Terry Long

Degree:  Ph.D., Harvard University, (2000)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.4355
Personal Site:   Link to Site
Vitae/CV:   Bridget Terry Long.pdf
Office:  Gutman 465
Faculty Assistant:  Ryan Noll


Bridget Terry Long is the Saris Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Long is an economist who specializes in the study of education, in particular the transition from high school to higher education and beyond. Her work focuses on college student access and choice and the factors that influence students' postsecondary and labor market outcomes. Current projects examine the roles of information and assistance in promoting college savings, the completion of aid applications, and college enrollment. Other work examines the effects of financial aid programs, the impact of postsecondary remediation, and the role of instructor quality, class size, and support programs on student outcomes. Long is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), member of the Board of Directors for MDRC, and a Research Affiliate of the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE). She is also a member and former Chair of the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES), the advisory panel of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education. Long received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the Harvard University Department of Economics and her A.B. from Princeton University. Long has testified multiple times before Congressional Committees on education issues. She has also been awarded numerous research grants, including major awards from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). She also received the Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. She has served as an advisor to many organizations, including the College Board, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, American Council on Education, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, Ohio Board of Regents, and the I Have a Dream Foundation.

Click here to see a full list of Bridget Terry Long's courses.

Areas of Expertise
“The Reversal of the College Gender Gap: The Role of Alternatives and College Supply.”
During the last decade, women have surpassed in men in a number of postsecondary outcomes including college enrollment. Currently, 55 percent of college students are women (NCES, 2004). This trend could have serious implications for returns in the labor market as well as social outcomes such as marriage and fertility. This paper explores several possible explanations for the reversal of the gender gap. While past work has focused on the college wage premium, I also take into account the role of secondary school performance by gender, non-labor market alternatives such as the military and incarceration, and changes in the availability of different kinds of colleges (e.g. community colleges).

“Mass Instruction or Higher Learning? The Impact of Class Size in Higher Education.” (with Eric Bettinger)
This paper attempts to measure the effects of collegiate class size on student outcomes such as persistence, subsequent course selection, and major choice. While class size is a perennial issue in literature focusing on primary and secondary schooling, it has been largely ignored in research on higher education. Nonetheless, the effect of class size in college is potentially very important as it impacts everything from competitive rankings (20 percent of the U.S. News and World Report formula focuses on class size) to university budgets. Moreover, the range of possible class sizes is substantial in higher education (as many as 700 per lecture in our data) suggesting large differences in students' classroom experiences and possibly large effects on students' outcomes as well. Few researchers have focused on collegiate class size because data are rarely available. In addition, there are inherent selection problems as higher ability students appear to systematically avoid large classes. To address this hole in the literature, we use a unique data set that includes detailed class size, faculty, and student characteristics and track two cohorts of nearly 41,000 students in four-year, public colleges in Ohio.

Under-prepared Students in Higher Education: Searching for the Right Policies to Address the Problem of Insufficient Preparation,
This project examines several policy questions related to the academic preparation of high school students. First, to address the needs of under-prepared students, how should states offer and organize postsecondary remediation? A second major policy debate relates to how to prevent the need for college remediation. Finally, I have examined the effect of remediation on student outcomes in a number of contexts, including Ohio, Florida, and Tennessee.

Increasing College Enrollment among Low- and Moderate-Income Families: A Program to Improve Access to College Information and Financial Aid. (with Eric Bettinger and Philip Oreopoulos)
Concerns about the low visibility of aid programs and the complexity of the aid process have spurred calls to simplify the form and enhance the visibility of programs that are meant to educate students about the availability of financial aid. This project provides an intervention that streamlines both the aid application process and students' access to accurate and personalized higher educational information. Using a random assignment research design, H&R Block tax professionals are helping a group of eligible low- to moderate-income families to complete the federal aid application form (FAFSA). Then, families are immediately given an estimate of their eligibility for federal and state financial aid as well as information about local postsecondary options. To track the impact of this intervention, the project data are being linked with college administrative files to determine which individuals elected to enroll and persist in higher education. In summary, our research will examine the effects of a program that attempts to increase awareness about aid and simplify the application process. Moreover, we aim to provide concrete examples of ways to improve college access for low-income students and the effectiveness of financial aid policies.

“Does Cheaper Mean Better? The Impact of using Adjunct Instructors on Student Outcomes.” (with Eric Bettinger)

Selected to give the Henry and Bryna David Lecture, National Academy of Sciences, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.,(2009)

Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award. Given by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) for excellence in research and published works on student financial assistance.,(2008)

Featured in "New Voices: A Look at the New Generation of Higher-Education Thinkers," Chronicle of Higher Education,(2005)

Morningstar Teaching Award, Harvard Graduate School of Education,(2003)

Selected as a “Rising Star” in the Academy, Black Issues in Higher Education,(2003)

National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship,(2002)

American Educational Research Association Dissertation Award,(1999)

Sponsored Projects

Evaluation of the William H Thompson Scholars Learning Community Program (2012-2015)
Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation provides intensive support, in the form of financial aid and a host of academic support services, to students attending University of Nebraska campuses through the TSLC program. How this support impacts the educational attainment of scholarship recipients is an empirical question which is being estimated through experimental research undertaken by Josh Angrist, David Autor, and Amanda Pallais at MIT. While this research estimates overall program effects of the scholarships and learning community supports, one limitation of this study is that it does not disentangle effects among the various supports students receive through the learning communities. As a result, the experimental analysis alone is not sufficient to determine which components of the learning communities effectively impact student outcomes, and which do not. Because the TSLCs are qualitatively different from college support programs that have been previously studied, they are likely to have qualitatively different effects on student achievement. Evaluating them provides a unique opportunity to understand the effects of a comprehensive support system for students, and promises to complement the experimental analysis by exploring what aspects of the learning communities are driving estimated effects in college persistence, performance, and attainment.

Building Infrastructure and Expanding Research in the Economics of Higher Education (2005-2008)
Ford Foundation

Higher education is a vital part of American society. It is therefore not surprising that economists are interested in studying the financing of college and the factors that impact student success and graduation. However, the economics of higher education is significantly limited by the availability of relevant data easily accessible and usable by investigators. Among the untapped resources are administrative databases – unit record data on students and institutions that may be available at the state, university, or school level. They hold the promise of helping researchers to answer some of the most pressing questions related to education. Unfortunately, due to significant upfront costs to secure access, encode it to protect student confidentiality, and structure the data for research purposes and, it is difficult for researchers to fully utilize these potential sources of information. Mirroring the issues faced by academic researchers, states, university systems, and districts also have limited capacity to perform research that would help them understand the problems and issues facing their stakeholders.

Boatman, Angela, B. T. Long, and Eric Bettinger. “Student Supports: Developmental Education and Other Academic Programs.” Forthcoming in the Future of Children volume Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Cecilia Rouse, Lisa Barrow, and Thomas Brock, Eds.,(forthcoming)

Calcagno, Juan Carlos and B. T. Long. "The Impact of Postsecondary Remediation Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach: Addressing Endogenous Sorting and Noncompliance." Under submission.,(forthcoming)

Long, B. T. “Supporting Access to Higher Education: The College Preparation and Financial Assistance Programs of the War on Poverty.” The Legacy of the War on Poverty: A 50 year Retrospective. Martha Bailey and Sheldon Danziger, Eds. Part of a project sponsored by the National Poverty Center and the Russell Sage Foundation.,(forthcoming)

Bettinger, Eric, B. T. Long, Philip Oreopoulos, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu. “The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 127(3). Also available as National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 15361. [equal authorship with Bettinger and Oreopoulos],(2012)

Long, B. T. Grading Higher Education: Giving Consumers the Information They Need. Washington, D.C.: The Center for American Progress and The Hamilton Project, December.,(2010)

Bettinger, Eric and B. T. Long. “Does Cheaper Mean Better? The Impact of using Adjunct Instructors on Student Outcomes.” Review of Economics and Statistics 92(3): 598–613. [equal authorship],(2010)

Long, B. T. and Michal Kurlaender. “Do Community Colleges provide a Viable Pathway to a Baccalaureate Degree?” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 31(1): 30-53. [lead author],(2009)

Bettinger, Eric and B. T. Long. “Addressing the Needs of Under-Prepared College Students: Does College Remediation Work?” Journal of Human Resources. 44(3): 736–771. [equal authorship],(2009)

Bound, John, Brad Hershbein, and B. T. Long. “Student reactions to Increasing College Competition.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(4): 119–46. A longer version is available as National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 15272.,(2009)

Osili, Una Okonkwo and Long, B. T. “Does Female Schooling Reduce Fertility? Evidence from Nigeria.” Journal of Development Economics, vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 57-75.,(2008)

Long, B. T. "What Is Known About the Impact of Financial Aid? Implications for Policy." National Center for Postsecondary Education Working Paper.,(2008)

Bettinger, Eric and B. T. Long. (2007) “Institutional Responses to Reduce Inequalities in College Outcomes: Remedial and Developmental Courses in Higher Education.” In Stacy Dickert-Conlin and Ross Rubenstein, Eds. Economic Inequality and Higher Education: Access, Persistence, and Success. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. [equal authorship],(2007)

Long, B. T. (2007) "The Contributions of Economics to the Study of College Access and Success." Teachers College Record.,(2007)

Long, B. T. and Erin K. Riley. (2007) “Financial Aid: A Broken Bridge to College Access?” Harvard Educational Review. [lead author],(2007)

Bettinger, Eric and B. T. Long. (2005) “Do Faculty Members serve as Role Models? The Impact of Faculty Gender on Female Students.” American Economic Review, vol. 95, no. 2. [equal authorship],(2005)

Long, B. T. (2004) “How Have College Decisions Changed Overtime? An Application of the Conditional Logistic Choice Model.” Journal of Econometrics, vol. 121, no. 1-2: pp. 271-296.,(2004)

Long, B. T. (2004) “How do Financial Aid Policies affect Colleges? The Institutional Impact of the Georgia HOPE Scholarship.” Journal of Human Resources, vol. 39, no. 3.,(2004)

Long, B. T. (2004) “Does the Format of an Aid Program Matter? The Effect of In-Kind Tuition Subsidies.” Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 86, no. 3, pp. 767-782.,(2004)

National Board of Education Sciences (NBES), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education. Presidential Appointment with Senate confirmation. Member (2010 to present). Vice Chair (Nov 2010-Nov 2011). Chair (Nov 2011 to present)

Member, Board of Directors, MDRC. Member of the Education Sub-Committee.,(2010-present)

Public Education Nominating Council, Commonwealth of Massachusetts – appointed by Governor Deval Patrick,(2007-present)

Lumina Foundation for Education, Research Advisory Committee.,(2006-present)

Trustee, Newbury College, Brookline, MA.,(2004-present)

Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER),(2003-present)

Higher Education Research Consultant, Ohio Board of Regents,(2002-present)

Member, American Economic Association,(2000-present)

Faculty Lecturer, Harvard Institute for Educational Management

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