Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions: What we need to Know

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This webinar will explore existing evidence for holistic review in graduate admissions (including the recent Council of Graduate Schools report), and critical gaps in evidence that need to be filled before implementing the practice more broadly among graduate programs in STEM and biomedical sciences. Speakers will explore the challenges associated with holistic review in STEM/biomedical graduate admissions, including opacity of departmental practices, diversity of disciplines, and the need to adapt practices developed for undergraduate and professional schools for implementation in other contexts. Speakers will also discuss the limitations of standardized test scores as metrics for evaluating student potential for success, and other criteria that may be used to provide a more contextualized picture of a student’s ability. The webinar will end with information about the proposed action item to pilot holistic review in STEM/biomedical graduate admissions. 

Speakers

Courtney Ferrell Aklin, Ph.D., Chief of Staff, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Julia Kent, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Communications, Advancement and Best Practices at the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)
Ambika Mathur, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Scientific Workforce Training, Development and Diversity, and Dean of the Graduate School at Wayne State University
Keivan G. Stassun, Ph.D., Stevenson Endowed Professor of Physics & Astronomy and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research at Vanderbilt University

Background

The pathway to becoming a scientist leads through graduate school, and graduate admissions committees are the gatekeepers. How they choose to evaluate applicants to their programs impacts the development of the future research workforce. Holistic review is a university admissions strategy that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores. Robust evidence supports the use of holistic review in undergraduate admissions and in the health professions, but the extent to which graduate programs are using the practice – and how they are using it – is less well-known.

This webinar, co-hosted by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), is part of a series intended to stimulate discussion and engage university leaders around topics from the recent report Increasing Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce: Actions for Improving Evidence, supported by the NIH. The webinar will explore existing evidence for the promising practice of holistic review and critical gaps in evidence that need to be addressed. Speakers will discuss the challenges associated with holistic review in graduate admissions, with a particular focus on STEM and the biomedical sciences where scholars from diverse backgrounds are underrepresented. The webinar will close with information about a proposed action item to pilot holistic review in STEM and biomedical science graduate programs.

Click here to view the PPT slides. 

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