Rita Karam

Policy Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in education, University of California, Riverside; M.A. in sociology, California State University, Fullerton; B.A. in sociology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

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Rita Karam is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research focuses on educational policies, organizations, equity, and program improvement. Since 2002, Karam has investigated educational decentralization policies, school monitoring, and accountability systems in the U.S., Qatar, and Indonesia where she has examined the implementation of such policies and their effects on school restructuring and student learning. Currently, Karam is co-leading two educational projects that measure the performance of a technology-based STEM program and a technology-based professional development program for science teachers.

In addition to her work in education, Karam examines the effects of social, economic, and political policies on youth's socio-emotional well-being and engagement in risky behaviors. She has received an award to study the effectiveness of the Cash Transfer Program designed to improve the health and education of youth in the Middle East. Karam earned her masters in sociology from California State University and her Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Riverside.


  • A man studying in his apartment

    How to Navigate Public-Private Partnerships in Higher Ed

    Universities are partnering with private companies that have the resources to help them compete in the online learning market and maximize student enrollment. Do their different missions — providing high-quality education and making a profit — dilute the quality of the courses?

    May 26, 2017 RealClearEducation

  • Boys study with a shared book at their school in a village outside Sanaa, Yemen, February 2, 2016

    Countering Extremism: Early Childhood Education Forgotten

    Global attention has turned to education as a way to counter extremism. But what has been missing from the conversation is a focus on learning in children's first years, when much brain development occurs. In the Middle East and North Africa, government underinvestment in formal programs for young children is the norm.

    Jun 8, 2016 The National Interest

  • Elementary students in a classroom with a teacher

    Implementing Education Reforms to Enhance School Performance

    Although countries differ greatly in how their education systems are structured, financed, and the extent to which they are centralized, they share common obstacles that undermine reform success. Beyond the obvious steps of providing adequate resources and professional development, there are ways to improve the implementation of school-wide reforms.

    Nov 13, 2015 The RAND Blog