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Discontinuing the Use of the GRE in Rackham Ph.D. Admissions Decisions

Motivated by Rackham’s ongoing commitment to holistic admissions practices in order to recruit, admit, and foster the success of the best students in Ph.D. programs at the University of Michigan, the graduate school has announced that it will discontinue the use of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test in Rackham Ph.D. admissions, beginning with the 2022–2023 admissions cycle.

Below, you can find details on the process for the decision and support that Rackham will provide to programs that will be changing their admissions practices, along with further background information.

Decision and Process

Announcement of the Decision

Rackham announced the decision on February 23, 2022. “Through dialogue with faculty colleagues, including those both for and against the proposal, I have arrived at the conclusion that the costs of using the GRE in Ph.D. admissions outweigh the benefits,” Rackham Dean Mike Solomon said. “By leaving these scores behind, the rich information of the doctoral application can be reviewed in ways that are truly holistic and responsive to the broad demographics of our applicants.”

The decision was made after the Rackham Executive Board, the elected faculty governing body of the graduate school, considered input of Ph.D. programs and graduate faculty that had been collected in fall 2021; after discussion, the board was unanimous in support of the decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which programs will be affected by Rackham’s decision? What data and research did Rackham review prior to its initial proposal? What steps were taken to solicit feedback from graduate programs and the broader U-M community prior to reaching a decision? Find responses to these questions and others.

Rackham Support for Programs

Rackham recognizes that the discontinuation of the GRE presents a particular challenge for the small number of programs that have relied upon the GRE in doctoral admissions. In addition, we understand that the development and implementation of truly holistic admissions practices requires ongoing work for all doctoral programs. To address these needs, Rackham has developed mechanisms to support individual programs in the development and implementation of holistic admission best practices.

Summer Funding for Rackham Programs to Support GRE Discontinuation Transition

For the summer of 2022, Rackham will provide funding for up to three faculty to work on revisions of their program’s admissions process; the level of funding is salary or stipend equivalent of up to two weeks of summer effort.

Holistic Admissions Consultation

Beginning in May 2022, a team of holistic admissions experts will work with the admissions committee of individual programs to evaluate current admissions practices and provide guidance and recommendations tailored for a program’s goals and needs.

Holistic Admissions Best Practices

Holistic admissions practices evaluate the skills, experience, knowledge, and potential of an applicant by considering the academic, professional, and personal record along multiple dimensions. Through these practices, components of the graduate application that are most reflective of an applicant’s accomplishments and promise are identified and used for admissions decisions.

Data Collection and Analysis

Rackham’s Institutional Research team will continue to collect and analyze data on recruitment, admissions, and the student life-cycle as part of their research program; in this way, changes across many dimensions that correlate with GRE general test discontinuation can be identified. Rackham data can also be made available to individual doctoral programs or faculty for their own research purposes. For more information please contact Rackham Institutional Research.

At the conclusion of the 2024–2025 admissions cycle, the impact of removing the GRE in doctoral admissions will be evaluated using all generated data. The effectiveness of the support structures for admissions committees will also be assessed.

Background Information

Slide Presentation from November 2021 Faculty Forums

In addition to discussing the proposal with the chairs and directors of Rackham programs at their regular fall 2021 meetings, Rackham hosted two open faculty forums on the topic in November 2021. The slide presentation includes data and research Rackham used to engage in dialogue with doctoral programs and graduate faculty. A form to submit feedback electronically was also made available to faculty and to other campus partners.

Original Rackham Proposal

To formulate the proposal, Rackham engaged in discussions with graduate admissions committees through its admissions workshops during the academic year 2020–2021, the chairs and directors of Rackham programs during its regular winter 2021 meeting, and the Rackham Executive Board.

White Paper

As part of formulating the proposal, Rackham Associate Dean Anna Mapp and Assistant Dean Ethriam Brammer authored a white paper to examine the data regarding the efficacy of the GRE as an assessment instrument, the inequities inherent in the test, and the impact of cost and access on  applicants.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, please contact the Michigan Public Affairs team at [email protected].