Asia-focused think tank opportunities

With New Zealand's borders reopening, young New Zealanders will be looking further afield for opportunities to study or progress in their career paths. For those interested research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, economics, political strategy, and culture an internship or placement with an Asia-focused think tank could be a great option. But what opportunities are out there with Asia-based/focused think tanks? Find out below.

Please note: Some of these opportunities are open at various times of the year and may be disrupted by Covid-19. For more information, please contact senior adviser research and engagement James To.


Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Canberra)

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) focuses on defence and strategic policy issues in the Indo-Pacific Region. It is a non-partisan organisation founded by the Australian government. It now receives a mix of funding from the governments of Australia, Japan, and Taiwan, as well as defence contractors and technology companies.

The ASPI has an internship program based in Canberra.


Lowy Institute (Sydney)

The Lowy Institute conducts research on international political, strategic, and economic issues relevant to Australian policymaking, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific. It is an independent, non-profit institute.
It offers a Research Fellow position centred on the Pacific Islands, as well as a scholarship program, although the latter remains on hold due to travel restrictions as of March 2022.



BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (Dhaka)

This institute aims to promote innovation and development through rigorous multi-method social science research. They are particularly interested in economic development, gender and social transformation, and governance. It is one of three institutes at BRAC University.

The BRAC Institute of Governance and Development offers internships on a rolling basis, as well as a young six-month long fellowship program.



Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (Phnom Penh)

The Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) focuses on geopolitical, security, social, and economic issues relevant to Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia. Its goal is to support Cambodia’s development, sovereignty, and regional integration. It is an objective, neutral, and independent organisation.

The CICP offers a fellowship program that enables scholars to complete some of their research with them in Phnom Penh. They also have internships that involve supervised research.


Hong Kong

Centre for Civil Society and Governance

This institute aims to improve our understanding of civil society, particularly how it influences governance, and to develop solutions to attain a more sustainable society. It is affiliated with Hong Kong University.

The CCSG accepts applications for its internship program all year around. There is also a fellowship scheme, but you must be a participant in the CCSG’s events to be eligible for this.


Civic Exchange

This independent think tank is focused on environmental and developmental policies relevant to Hong Kong. Civic Exchange informs and engages with policymakers and stakeholders through in-depth research and dialogue.
It also offers an internship program open to candidates from around the world, although Chinese writing skills are appreciated.



Centre for Air Power Studies (New Delhi)

The Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) is an autonomous think tank focusing on defence, aerospace issues, and India’s national security in relation to the international strategic environment. It aims to inform India’s Armed Forces and the public, but also policymakers on these issues.

CAPS has an internship program open to recent graduates or current postgraduate students.


Centre for Social and Economic Progress (New Delhi)

Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP) conducts research into a variety of fields, including economics, development, energy, sustainability, foreign policy, and security. CSEP’s policy recommendations based on its findings are available to the public.

This institute has an internship program that is usually based in Mumbai, but this takes place virtually during the Covid-19  pandemic. It is available to both undergraduate and graduate students.


Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (New Delhi)

The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses aims to promote security both internationally and for India through research into defence and security-related issues. It is a non-partisan, autonomous institute.
There is an internship programme open to master’s students in their final year, recent master’s graduates, or for a shorter period also candidates with a bachelor’s degree only.



Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Jakarta)

Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) promotes public policy-oriented discussions on international, social, political, and economical issues. It is a non-profit and independent institution with the aim of improving policymaking for the sake of a better long-term future for Indonesia.

There are internship positions at CSIS, and they also offer an opportunity for postgraduate students to complete part of their research in Jakarta as part of their visiting fellows program.



Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Kamiyamaguchi)

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) seeks to develop innovative policies and conduct strategic research into environmental measures to achieve sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific as well as worldwide. The IGES was founded through a joint effort of the central Japanese government and the Kanagawa Prefecture.
The institute has an internship program open to current masters or PhD students, as well as recent graduates. However, you will need to know Japanese and you must be able to enter Japan short-term without a visa. New Zealand citizens are generally eligible for visa-free entry, but this is affected by Covid-19, so check current regulations.


United Nations University (Tokyo)

The United Nations University functions as both a think tank and a postgraduate teaching organisation. It focuses on global problems related to human survival, development and welfare. It seeks to help solve these issues through collaborative research and education.
This institute has two internship opportunities: the United Nations University Internship Programme and the Junior Fellows Internship Programme. The former is open to applicants who are enrolled in any university programme, including a bachelor’s, or have graduated within the last two years. The latter only accepts applications from those currently enrolled in, or having recently completed, postgraduate studies. The Junior Fellows Internship Programme also offers more extensive benefits. Either internship appears to be open to any nationality.



Khazanah Research Institute (Kuala Lumpur)

This is a non-profit institute with the aim of improving the well-being of Malaysians through policy recommendations. It conducts research, runs discussions, and disseminates its findings through a variety of means.
The Khazanah Research Institute has an internship program and may also have open research positions that recent graduates can apply for. However, note that you will likely need to know Bahasa Malaysia for any position at this institute.



Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement

The Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE) conducts research on international relations, foreign policy, security studies, and development issues from a Nepalese perspective, often with a focus on South Asia. It is independent, apolitical and non-partisan.
NIICE has an internship program open to any nationality, although only Nepalese nationals are eligible to receive an honorarium after the first two months. Additionally, their Visiting Fellowship Programme may be of interest for those who already have had some success with publications. They also seek writing on South Asia, from book reviews to edited book chapters – check out their “Write for us” page if you’re interested in that.


Papua New Guinea

PNG National Research Institute (Port Moresby)

The PNG National Research Institute conducts policy research into economic and social development issues affecting Papua New Guinea. This institute was originally established by the Australian National University and is now independent.
The institute has an annual Research Internship Training Program. Applicants must have received their bachelor within the last two years to be eligible.



Institute of Policy Studies

The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) was established as an independent think tank to study and generate public policy ideas in Singapore. It has since become an autonomous research centre of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. The Institute examines issues of critical national interest across a variety of fields and studies the attitudes and aspirations of Singaporeans through surveys of public perception.
IPS has an internship program open to postgraduate students, as well as undergraduate students who are at least in their second year.


Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) conducts research into regional and international political, economic, and environmental issues, particularly ASEAN-related topics. It also hosts events and conferences. Its aim is to make Singapore a more global society. It is a non-governmental organisation.

SIIA offers internships for those interested in a career in international relations.


S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

This institute doubles as a think tank and graduate school, and is focused on international relations, defence and security, international political economics, and Asian Studies. It is part of the Nanyang Technological University.
The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies may have vacant Junior Research positions which are open to master’s graduates.


South Korea

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (Seoul)

The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) is a government-funded research institute with a focus is on international economics. It provides the South Korean government with policy advice, particularly in relation to trade agreements.
KIEP appears to welcome job and internship applications on a rolling basis.



Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (Taipei)

The Taiwan Economic Research Institute conducts research into macroeconomics and new industries, and provides consultation services to the government, enterprises, and academia. Its aim is to promote the economic development of Taiwan.

If you speak Mandarin Chinese, this institute is worth a close look; there are numerous research assistant and clerk positions open to individuals with a master’s and sometimes a bachelor’s degree. A background in economics, trade or statistics is most sought after, but there are also opportunities for people with a major in information technology, politics, law, or electrical engineering. Note that Taiwanese applicants will be given preference.



Asia Centre (Bangkok)

The Asia Centre is a research institute with a particular focus on human rights. It engages in capacity-building activities, advocates for the promotion and protection of human rights through traditional and social media and conducts research into issues affecting East Asia.

While jobs at the centre appear to be restricted to Thai citizens, its internships seem to be open to candidates of any nationality.


United States of America

Global Taiwan Institute (Washington D.C.)

The Global Taiwan Institute is a non-profit organisation that studies policy issues relating to Taiwan and the world. It seeks to improve Taiwan’s relations abroad, particularly with the US, and to ameliorate understanding of Taiwan and its people internationally.

This institute offers internship and fellowship programs. Note that the Global Taiwan Institute is based in Washington D.C., and you need to be eligible to work in the US in order to apply for many of their positions. Preference is given to candidates who are fluent in Mandarin Chinese.


National Bureau of Asian Research (Seattle)

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) is focused on strategic, political, economic, health, and energy issues affecting US-Asia relations. It is an independent institute with the vision of a free, open, secure, and prosperous future for all. NBR disseminates its findings through a variety of means, including not just publications and conferences, but also congressional testimony and policy briefings as the United States Asia policy think tank.
This institute has a number of internship and fellowship opportunities. However, note that you must be eligible to work in the US, and NBR will not sponsor your visa application.


The Asia Society Policy Institute (Washington D.C. / New York)

The Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) aims to solve major problems facing the Asia-Pacific region in terms of security, prosperity, sustainability, and shared norms. It also seeks to forge closer ties between Asia and the West through arts, education, policy, and business. ASPI is an independent, international non-profit organisation.
This institute offers two internship opportunities – one in Washington D.C. and one in New York. However, note that the ASPI will not sponsor your visa application to work in the US.



Centre for Sustainable Rural Development ( Hanoi / Hue )

The Centre for Sustainable Rural Development is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that aims to help disadvantaged communities improve their own quality of life and manage their resources sustainably. It focuses on poverty reduction, environmental protection, climate change, and development.

This centre has a volunteer program with positions in a variety of fields. Although volunteers do not get paid, they may receive some assistance – check the individual listings to determine the level of support you can expect.


Various Locations

ASEAN Institutes for Strategic and International Studies

There next three institutions are members of the ASEAN Institutes for Strategic and International Studies. As such, they are part of a network with the goal of promoting cooperation and information exchange on strategic and international issues affecting ASEAN.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Offices in Beijing, New Delhi, Washington D.C., Moscow, Beirut, Brussels)

Carnegie’s purpose is to advance peace, international cooperation, and diplomacy through independent analysis, the development of new policy thinking, and by training the next generation of scholars and practitioners. It is a nonpartisan, international affairs think tank with multiple offices around the world.
Each office has its own job opportunities, so the easiest way to get an overview is to look at the general employment page. If you have a particular office in mind, you can also search on that Centre’s page.



Kina Kunz is a PhD candidate at the University of Otago. Her thesis is on South Korea and Japan's response to the rise of China, and is travelling to Seoul and Tokyo this year to conduct field research.