What is Holistic Admissions?

The holistic admissions method looks at multiple sources of information to get the fullest picture of each applicant’s potential. By combining quantitative data like test scores and undergraduate GPA with more qualitative indicators such as letters of recommendation and work experience, you can be confident you have a more complete view of each applicant to fairly assess fit within your program.

Programs Conducting Holistic Admissions Typically:

  • Use evidence and information from multiple sources to gauge applicants’ knowledge, skills, experiences and personal attributes

  • Avoid using threshold (or cut) scores that are determined using only undergraduate GPA and GRE® General Test scores, as that may prevent candidates with other desirable qualities from being considered

  • Align weighing of various application components with program goals

  • Give thought to the order in which application components are reviewed, and who is reviewing them, to mitigate biases throughout the process

Benefits of Holistic Admissions:

  • Gain a clearer picture of an applicant’s potential fit
  • Identify applicants most likely to be successful in your program
  • Support fair review of all applications

Understanding and Balancing Components of the Application Packet

Being aware of the purpose, benefits and limitations of each component of a typical application can help you keep the process as equitable as possible in working to achieve your enrollment goals.

These resources describe the checks-and-balances approach that holistic admissions provide.

Can Holistic Admissions Help Increase Student Diversity?

Four graduate school deans discuss the role that holistic admissions, inclusive of GRE scores, can have in:

  • Balancing strengths and weaknesses of various components of the application packet
  • Being fair to applicants and achieving diversity goals
  • Recognizing disparities in educational opportunities
  • Mitigating reviewer bias
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Continue Your Journey

Developing an effective selection process is a complex task. Explore a range of resources as you consider implementing a more holistic admissions process on your campus.

Implementing Holistic Admissions