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Creating a More Equitable Path to Graduate Education at Dornsife

Mural in Nesbitt Hall

October 2, 2019

We are proud to announce that beginning August 2019, our School no longer requires the submission of GRE scores as part of applications to our masters programs. We see this as an important way to make our application process more equitable for an economically, socially, and culturally diverse range of students. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the mounting evidence that the GRE is not only an unfair barrier to a graduate education, it is also an ineffective way to identify students who will do well in graduate school, or in public health careers after graduate education.

Just taking the GRE costs more than $200 and test preparation courses – one of the few reliable methods of raising a score – may cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. This can be an insurmountable challenge for students with limited financial resources.

In addition, an analysis of the value of the GRE, published in Nature, reported what many educators have been discussing for years — the idea that the GRE is, in their words, “poor at selecting the most capable students and severely restricts the flow of women and minorities into the sciences.” A GRE score, they continue, is more likely related to a student’s socioeconomic status than “their intellectual capacity or academic preparation.” Several studies have confirmed these findings, and have motivated many prestigious graduate schools and colleges to reconsider the wisdom of requiring GRE scores as part of the admissions review process.

For these reasons, we have come to the conclusion that requiring GRE scores of applicants to our masters programs is inconsistent with Dornsife’s founding principles of social justice and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Equity is the foundation of our work as a school, but the concept also extends to how we engage with the world and our students. We are dedicated to offering all students who wish to study public health here at Dornsife a fair chance to be accepted into the program of their choice. Most importantly we know that a diverse workforce is critical to high quality and impactful public health research and practice.

At Dornsife, we already have the privilege of teaching, mentoring, and learning from students from all types of communities and countries around the world. We expect that our new policy will only increase this good fortune. As our School continues to grow and thrive, we look forward to broadening the types of students who graduate from our programs and become the next generation of health professionals who will go out into the nation’s communities and make a difference.