Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping

Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping

by Julie R. Posselt


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How does graduate admissions work? Who does the system work for, and who falls through its cracks? More people than ever seek graduate degrees, but little has been written about who gets in and why. Drawing on firsthand observations of admission committees and interviews with faculty in 10 top-ranked doctoral programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, education professor Julie Posselt pulls back the curtain on a process usually conducted in secret.

“Politicians, judges, journalists, parents and prospective students subject the admissions policies of undergraduate colleges and professional schools to considerable scrutiny, with much public debate over appropriate criteria. But the question of who gets into Ph.D. programs has by comparison escaped much discussion. That may change with the publication of Inside Graduate Admissions…While the departments reviewed in the book remain secret, the general process used by elite departments would now appear to be more open as a result of Posselt’s book.”
—Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

“Revealing…Provide[s] clear, consistent insights into what admissions committees look for.”
—Beryl Lieff Benderly, Science

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674984042
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 05/07/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 653,660
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Julie R. Posselt is Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Southern California.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: Gatekeeping Reconsidered 1

1 Decision Making as Deliberative Bureaucracy 20

2 Meanings of Merit and Diversity 46

3 Disciplinary Logics 74

4 Mirror, Mirror 95

5 The Search for Intelligent Life 116

6 International Students and Ambiguities of Holistic Review 133

Conclusion: Merit beyond the Mirror 154

Methodological Appendix 179

Notes 193

References 215

Acknowledgments 241

Index 243

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