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ERIC Number: EJ1034780
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Aug
Pages: 34
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 85
ISSN: ISSN-0195-6744
Toward Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education: Constructing Merit and Diversity in PhD Admissions
Posselt, Julie R.
American Journal of Education, v120 n4 p481-514 Aug 2014
Professors play an underexamined role as gatekeepers, and their understandings of merit have significant implications for racial equity and diversity in graduate education and the professoriate. To understand faculty reliance upon admissions criteria that undermine espoused diversity goals, this study examined decision making in 10 highly selective doctoral programs, including the meanings faculty associate with common admissions criteria. Through 86 interviews and 22 hours of admissions committee observations, findings reveal that conceptions of merit changed throughout the review process. Privileging diversity among those who made the short list marginally affected outcomes because the initial standard--a very high quantitative bar of conventional achievement--excluded many students of color. Implications for reframing merit and reforming graduate admissions are discussed.
University of Chicago Press. Journals Division, P.O. Box 37005, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 877-705-1878; Tel: 773-753-3347; Fax: 877-705-1879; Fax: 773-753-0811; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A