What is a Think Tank? A think tank is an organization that helps to shape American politics by providing independent research and engaging in advocacy in public policy issues. They provide expert data and recommendations in areas that influence political strategy, the economy, science and technology issues, legal affairs, social policies and more. Many think tanks are non-profit organizations, while others receive direct government assistance or funding from private individuals or corporate donors.
Think tanks employ highly educated individuals who are experts in their field and can write reports, organize events, give lectures and provide testimony to government committees. These jobs are very competitive, challenging and rewarding.
Top Rated Think Tanks
According to the "Global Go-To Think Tank Rankings", the Brookings Institute is consistently ranked first in the "Top 25 Think Tanks -- Worldwide" category. The rankings are based on surveys of think tank staffers, academics, and journalists. "Global Go-To" calculates that there are more than 7,000 think tanks in the world, based in 169 countries. The U.S. is home to 1,835 think tanks with approximately 400 located in Washington, DC.
1. Brookings Institution - The nonprofit public policy organization is consistently ranked as the most influential think tank in the U.S. Brookings is nonpartisan and provides fact-based analysis for opinion leaders, decision makers, academics, and the media on a wide range of issues.
The organization is financed through and endowment, philanthropic foundations, corporations, governments, and individuals.
2. Council on Foreign Relations - The nonprofit nonpartisan think tank specializes in U.S. foreign policy. Offices are in Washington DC and New York City. The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program is home to more than 70 scholars who share their expertise by writing books, reports, articles, op-eds, and contribute to national discussions on important world issues.
3. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - The nonprofit organization is dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. The organization is based in Washington DC, with additional offices in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut, and Brussels.
4. Center for Strategic and International Studies - A public policy research institution dedicated to analysis and policy impact in government, international institutions, the private sector, and civil society.
5. RAND Corporation - The global organization focuses on a wide range of issues including health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, and the environment. RAND is based in Santa Monica, California and has offices throughout the world. Its Washington DC office is located in Arlington, Virginia.
6. Heritage Foundation - The conservative think tank does research on a variety of issues - domestic & economic, foreign & defense, and legal & judicial.
7. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research - The nonpartisan, nonprofit institution is dedicated to strengthening free enterprise and conducts research on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare.
8. Cato Institute - The think tank conducts independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues ranging from Energy and Environment to Political Philosophy to Trade and Immigration. Cato is primarily funded through tax-deductible contributions from individuals, with additional support from foundations, corporations, and the sale of books and publications.
9. Peterson Institute for International Economics - The nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution is dedicated to the study of international economic policy. Its studies have contributed to major policy initiatives such as reforms of the International Monetary Fund, the development of the North American Free Trade Agreement, initiation of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the United States and China and more.
Center for American Progress - The think tank focuses on public policy issues such as energy, national security, economic growth and opportunity, immigration, education, and health care.
- NIRA's World Directory of Think Tanks - A compilation of information on public policy institutes
- Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program – The program at the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role of think tanks around the world.
- Policy Jobs - The website is a resource for finding public policy jobs including foreign policy, economics, social policy, family policy, legal affairs and fiscal policy.