Applicant and Faculty Characteristics in the Doctoral Admission Process: An Experimental Vignette Study

The purpose of this research was to examine whether decisions made at one stage of strategic and graduate enrollment management, the admission phase, depend on both applicant and faculty characteristics. Faculty participants (N=62) were randomly assigned to read one of four vignettes of a prospective applicant to their doctoral program. They then rated the likelihood that they would interview and admit the applicant, and they also completed other surveys. Participants’ empathic orientation and first-generation college student status and higher Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores were associated with more favorable admission decisions. Participant and applicant characteristics also interacted to predict admission decisions. The results have implications for strategic and graduate enrollment management professionals.

Ambika Mathur is Associate Provost, Office of Scientific Training, Workforce Development and Diversity; Dean, Graduate School; and Professor of Pediatrics. She served as Associate Dean, the first director of the Wayne State University M.D./Ph.D. program, first director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, founding director of Wayne Med Direct program, and is PI of both the NIH-funded WSU-BEST Program and the NIH-funded ReBUILDetroit Program that support the development of underrepresented students who seek to pursue careers in biomedical research.

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