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    Master’s Admission Attribute Study

    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


    In collaboration with:



    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.