Grad School, Special Projects

What are admissions committees looking for in a graduate student?

When reviewing graduate students’ applications, admissions committees look for more than just GPA and test scores — they’re looking for a well-rounded student with a clear passion to complement their department.

Graduate Studies at Long Beach State offers several credential programs as well as master’s and doctoral degree options for students who currently hold a bachelor’s degree. CSULB’s admissions committees are typically made up of faculty and occasionally other graduate students, alumni and program staff.

According to Jody Cormack, vice provost for academic programs and dean of Graduate Studies, and Bryan Rodriguez, director of Graduate Studies Resource Center, graduate applications are reviewed first for minimum requirements, such as a 2.5 GPA with a Bachelor’s degree and test scores, and then sent to the appropriate department for further consideration.

“Graduate admissions committees at CSULB, similar [to] other graduate institutions, often look at candidates holistically,” they said in an email. “Admissions committees are not considering any singular item per se, but instead consider many factors when making admissions decisions.”

In addition to test scores and letters of recommendation, Graduate Studies administrators said that they consider “an applicant’s ‘fit’ with the program,” based on their “research or professional interests,” as well as academic qualifications, statement of purpose and work experience.

According to Affordable Colleges Online, graduate school programs are looking for students with academic compatibility with peers and professors within their department, originality, investment and commitment to the program and passion for their field of study.

“They also tend to seek students who are organized and have clearly defined objectives and demonstrate potential to make positive contributions to their area of study,” CSULB officials said.

Research done by the University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education found that although “good grades and the GRE scores help,” the “prestige” of a student’s recommenders or their undergraduate institution “might end up being the ultimate clincher.”

Julie Posselt, researcher with the Pullias Center, found that graduate admissions committees had favored applicants who had recommendation letters that were written by individuals the reviewers knew personally. Posselt found that since “the committee members tended to trust whom and what they already knew, they ended up making decisions based on those personal biases.”

“CSULB welcomes students with diverse experiences, backgrounds and perspectives to consider graduate studies at the Beach,” campus officials said.

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