Guides, Reports

Innovation in Graduate Admissions through Holistic Review

Project Summary

Identifying talented students poised to succeed is the first step in building a strong graduate program. Graduate schools invest considerable resources and apply different methods to determine who among their applicants represents the best fit with the program. Holistic review of individual applicants includes non-cognitive and personal attributes, which some have also correlated with increasing access to graduate education and improving the success rates of master’s and doctoral students.

Implementing holistic review processes across all graduate programs can be challenging, however, due to the perception that it introduces new time burdens and inefficiencies. A recurring discussion among graduate deans is how to encourage programs and departments to engage in the review of a broader range of admissions criteria, rather than focusing simply on one or two indicators of potential student success. Innovations in graduate applications and enrollment management present an opportunity for graduate schools to collaborate with faculty to advance more comprehensive and thoughtful admissions processes to strengthen graduate programs.

Project Goals

With support from Hobsons, CGS launched a preliminary one-year study to better understand current holistic graduate application processes. CGS garnered input from its member institutions to explore the current state of holistic graduate admissions processes, future trends, and implications of new technologies for achieving improvements in graduate admissions and student success rates.

Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions: A Report from the Council of Graduate Schools



Julia Kent