Though master’s programs and degree recipients have thrived, there has been scant research on the processes by which students gain admission into master’s programs. Recognizing this gap in our understanding of master’s admissions, in 2017 CGS, with support from Educational Testing Service (ETS), embarked on a project to better grasp how graduate programs evaluated applicants’ cognitive and noncognitive attributes and reviewed application materials. Improved understanding of master’s admissions would help graduate deans and their admissions teams put transparent processes in place to better identify promising candidates for admission and avoid unfair biases.

Project Goals

In December 2018 CGS released Master’s Admissions: Transparency, Guidance, and Training, which investigated master’s degree admissions practices. Information about master’s admissions was gathered through regional focus group discussions; from surveys completed by graduate program directors and graduate deans; and from discussions during a colloquium convened in September 2018 with graduate deans, employers from business and industry, and representatives from professional associations focusing on the admissions process. The data collected from these three sources were then distilled into Master’s Admissions: Transparency, Guidance, and Training, including its key findings, practice implications and directions for future research. This report is designed to enhance our understanding of current master’s admissions processes and chart a path to their future improvement.

Press Release

In Master’s Degree Programs, Admissions Processes Prioritize Retention (Dec. 4, 2018)

Additional Materials


Enyu Zhou

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