Susan M. Gates

Photo of Susan Gates
Director, Office of Research Quality Assurance; Senior Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in economic analysis and policy, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; M.A. in Russian and Eastern European studies, Stanford University; A.B. in mathematical economics, Brown University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Susan M. Gates is a senior economist, director of the Office of Research Quality Assurance at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research applies insights from the economics of organizations, industrial organization, and labor economics to several policy areas including entrepreneurship and innovation, school leadership, and workforce management.

Gates is an experienced project leader and manager. Current and recent projects include a national survey of school districts about their efforts to prepare, manage and support principals and evaluations of an effort to improve university-based principal preparation, the New Leaders program for school principals and an initiative to improve the principal pipeline in six major districts. Susan also conducts analyses on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition workforce. Prior research addressed entrepreneurship, health care innovation, the military child care system and defense workforce and management issues. Her published research appears in numerous RAND reports as well as in external publications such as the Economics of Education Review, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Risk and Insurance, Public Administration Review, Managerial and Decision Economics, ERS Spectrum, and Armed Forces and Society.

Gates received her M.A. in Russian and Eastern European studies from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in economics from Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Previous Positions

Consultant, Center for International Security and Arms Control on Industrial Restructuring and the Political Economy in Russia, Stanford University

Recent Projects

  • Evaluation of New Leaders
  • Evaluation of the Principal Pipeline Initiative
  • Resource study of the Principal Pipeline Initiative
  • ESSA School Leadership Evidence Review
  • Defense Acquisition Workforce Analysis

Selected Publications

Gates, Susan M., Matthew Baird, Benjamin K. Master and Emilio R. Chavez-Herrerias, Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools, RAND (RR-2666), 2019

Gates, Susan M., Matthew Baird, Christopher Joseph Doss, Laura S. Hamilton, Isaac M. Opper, Benjamin K. Master, Andrea Prado Tuma, Mirka Vuollo, and Melanie A. Zaber , Preparing School Leaders for Success: Evaluation of New Leaders’ Aspiring Principals Program, 2012-2017, RAND (RR-2812), 2019

Gates, Susan M., Brian Phillips, Michael H. Powell, Elizabeth A. Roth and Joyce Marks, Analyses of the Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce: Update to Methods and Results through FY 2017, RAND (RR-2492), 2018

Susan M. Gates et al., "Mobility and Turnover Among School Principals," Economics of Education Review, 25(3), 2006

Fairlie, Robert W., Kanika Kapur and Susan M. Gates, "Is employer-based health insurance a Barrier to Entrepreneurship?" Journal of Health Economics, 30(1), 2011

Susan M. Gates and Kristin J. Leuschner, Eds., In the Name of Entrepreneurship? : The Logic and Effects of Special Regulatory Treatment for Small Business, RAND (MG-663), 2008

Dominic J. Brewer, Susan M. Gates and Charles Goldman, In Pursuit of Prestige: Strategy and Competition in U.S. Higher Education, Transaction Press, 2006

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: CPRE Knowledge Hub; Marketplace


  • High school principal talks with students outside at school, photo by asiseeit/Getty Images

    For Teachers, a Good Boss Makes All the Difference

    Districts that try to place an effective leader in every school could reap educational benefits in the classroom. Giving a teacher a good boss also could be a powerful element in a broader strategy to recruit and retain highly effective educators.

    Apr 4, 2019 The 74 Million

  • Chalk and eraser on chalkboard rail

    How States and Districts Can Leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act to Improve School Leadership

    The Every Student Succeeds Act provides states and districts with new chances to invest in school leadership. A review of interventions can serve as a starting point to enact relevant solutions and build the evidence base for what works.

    Dec 12, 2016 The RAND Blog

  • A woman working in an office

    Improving School Leadership: What Works

    There is evidence that having strong school leaders is instrumental for improving the quality of teaching. But resource constraints and pressure to spend money directly on students have left interventions focused on principals largely overlooked. However, the new Every Student Succeeds Act may be changing the script.

    Apr 28, 2016 The RAND Blog

  • A principal and teachers talking in a school library

    A Principal Role in Education

    Principals are second only to teachers as the most important school factor affecting student achievement, but their contributions are often underappreciated. They establish a vision that motivates the entire community, build a school culture that supports student learning, ensure resources are used effectively, and engage with the community.

    Nov 26, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • a worried-looking woman paying for her prescription at a pharmacy

    What Drives the Market for Orphan Drugs?

    The 1983 Orphan Drug Act appears to be successful in promoting development of new treatments for relatively rare conditions. But an unintended consequence of its success is the high cost of specialty drugs.

    May 14, 2014 The RAND Blog