HomePhysicsA Holistic Strategy to Graduate Admissions

A Holistic Strategy to Graduate Admissions

• Physics 15, s166

Physics-education researchers have discovered {that a} rubric-based analysis technique is a simple and sensible means to assist combat inequities within the physics-graduate-admissions course of.


It’s no secret that college physics departments have a range drawback. Girls, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous college students are underrepresented in any respect ranges of physics, with a steep drop-off on the graduate stage. To attempt to fight the inequities of graduate admissions, the physics division at Michigan State College (MSU) carried out a candidate-review course of known as rubric-based holistic evaluation. After analyzing the educational and demographic knowledge of physics college students admitted over the previous three years, Nicholas Younger and his colleagues at MSU conclude that the tactic is a promising path towards a extra equitable admissions course of [1].

Discovering an unbiased approach to consider potential graduate college students is a notoriously thorny drawback. Undergraduate grades can differ broadly primarily based on the place a scholar research. Moreover, the scores of a take a look at generally taken by US college students after they apply to graduate faculties skew larger for male college students.

Rubric-based holistic evaluation elements within the conventional metrics, reminiscent of grades and take a look at scores, however doesn’t weigh any of them too closely. Relatively, it locations the emphasis on evaluations of “noncognitive” expertise, reminiscent of conscientiousness and perseverance, which might be important to success in graduate faculty. Younger et al.’s research reveals that rubric-based holistic evaluation is a sensible different to test-based analysis strategies for graduate admissions. The holistic evaluation seems to not introduce new inequities into the method, and it requires no additional work for the admission committee members. Younger hopes to see rubric-based holistic evaluation adopted by different establishments, however he notes that it’s only a part of the method. He says that different elements, reminiscent of the range of the committee itself, should even be addressed to create a really honest admissions course of.

–Katie McCormick

Katie McCormick is a contract science author primarily based in Sacramento, California.


  1. N. T. Younger et al., “Rubric-based holistic evaluation: A promising path to equitable graduate admissions in physics,” Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 18, 020140 (2022).

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