Holistic Graduate Admissions

Higher education institutions across the US are moving towards more holistic graduate admissions processes, and UCLA’s Division of Humanities is proud to be a leader in this national conversation. Since 2018, UCLA Humanities has partnered with UC Davis and USC on the AMIGA project (Alliance for Multicampus Inclusive Graduate Admissions), funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Through faculty trainings and peer-to-peer mentoring, AMIGA has supported the development of holistic review methods among participating humanities and humanistic social science graduate programs at UC Davis and UCLA. As we widen the conversation to the rest of the division and campus, the menu on the right gathers useful information and resources for departments reflecting on their own practices and seeking to make their admissions processes more holistic.
Holistic, or “whole file,” review is the systematic examination of multiple types and sources of information about applicants. Their achievements are then considered in the context of what has been possible for them. Because it encourages us to be comprehensive and systematic, and because it contextualizes student achievement, whole file review can foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in graduate admissions. In addition, a growing body of research suggests that whole file review gives us more meaningful information about applicants and directs our attention towards qualities that are more accurate predictors of graduate student success than GPAs and standardized test scores. So, if a department doesn’t rely on GPAs and test scores, what can it rely on? How can it ensure the most equitable use of traditional metrics? And finally, how can departments begin the process of reflecting on their admissions practices while honoring diverse faculty perspectives?