Tim McDonald

Photo of Tim McDonald
Assistant Policy Researcher; Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


M.P.P. in business and government, Harvard Kennedy School; B.A. in political science, Hamline University


Tim McDonald is an assistant policy researcher at RAND and a doctoral candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. For the 2021-22 academic year he is a graduate fellow at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Design and previously worked as a researcher at the Harvard Global Equity Initiative.

His research focuses on methods for designing policy for large systems, and the application of these methods to socially important systems such as health, the economy, and the national defense. His current projects include developing incentive-based policy solutions for the U.S. health care system.

McDonald is the author of Unsustainable: A Strategy for Making Public Schooling More Productive, Effective, and Affordable, which proposes strategies to align incentives with objectives in the U.S. public education system. The book has been used by state legislatures and school districts to guide policymaking.

McDonald has an M.P.P. in business and government from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. in political science from Hamline University.


  • Glass globe sitting on chalk board with crisis and policy written in chalk, photo by courtneyk/Getty Images

    Planning as Freedom

    The pandemic has made Americans less free, confining us to our homes, and separating us from the people we love and the activities we value. This experience may help people learn the importance of planning to preserving and expanding freedom.

    Sep 4, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Wood block stacking with icon healthcare medical, Insurance for your health concept, photo by marchmeena29/Getty Images

    Don't Waste This Crisis: How America Can Begin Building a System of Health

    COVID-19 is shining a harsh spotlight on long-recognized but under-addressed gaps in the U.S. health system. There may never have been a more pressing time to think differently, broadening from health care services to a health-producing System of Health.

    May 4, 2020 The RAND Blog