Julie R. Posselt

Julie R. Posselt

Assistant Professor of Education

PhD, Higher Education, University of Michigan

Contact info

posselt@usc.eduPhone: 213-740-6865Waite-Phillips-Hall-702FCurriculum Vitae


Higher Education


Equity & diversity in higher education; Organizational theory; Sociology of education; Research methods


Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Workshop on Quasi-Experimental Design, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; August 2012

Julie R. Posselt

Dr. Julie Posselt is an Assistant Professor of higher education in the USC Rossier School of Education and a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation postdoctoral research fellow. Rooted in sociological and organizational theory, her research program examines institutionalized inequalities in higher education and organizational efforts aimed at reducing inequities and encouraging diversity. She focuses on selective sectors of higher education— graduate education, STEM fields, and elite undergraduate institutions—where longstanding practices and cultural norms are being negotiated to better identify talent and educate students in a changing society.

Posselt is author of the book Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping (2016, Harvard University Press), which is based on an award-winning ethnographic study of faculty judgment in 10 highly ranked doctoral programs in three universities. This research has led to partnerships with departments, graduate schools, and other associations that are re-examining graduate admissions practices, including the University of California, American Physics Society, and Council of Graduate Schools.

Her other current work includes a multi-institutional comparative case study, funded by the Spencer Foundation, of organizational conditions and institutional practices in highly-ranked STEM graduate programs that have been successful enrolling and graduating women and students of color.

Posselt also holds a National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellowship for the first national study of graduate student mental health. This project identifies factors associated with depression and anxiety; investigates the roles of discrimination, competitiveness, and faculty support in graduate student wellbeing; and measures disparities within and across academic disciplines.

She has published or forthcoming research in the American Educational Research JournalResearch in Higher EducationJournal of Higher EducationTeachers College Record, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others. She is a member of the Journal of Higher Education’s editorial review board.



My research group strives to understand institutionalized racial and gender inequities, especially in graduate education and the disciplines. By advancing theory and evidence about the core cultural and structural forces that institutionalize inequalities in departments, disciplines, schools, and universities, we can more effectively work with practitioners to develop locally resonant, effective strategies for resisting the status quo and creating more inclusive educational institutions.

Honors and Awards:

Association for the Study of Higher Education, Early Career Award, 2017

USC Rossier School of Education, Outstanding PhD faculty member, 2017.

National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2015-2017

American Educational Research Association, Outstanding Dissertation Award, Doctoral Education Special Interest Group, 2014

University of Michigan School of Education, Dimond Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2014

Emerald Publishing Group, Highly Commended Award Winner, for “Developing the research identities and aspirations of first-generation college students: Evidence from the McNair scholars program”, 2013

American Educational Research Journal, Outstanding Reviewer, 2013


ED 654: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods 2

ED 790: Institutions, Organizations, and Equity in Education

ED 708: Advanced Student Development Theory

ED 707: Administration in Higher Education



"A National Network for Access and Inclusion in Physics Graduate Education", (a.k.a., Inclusive Graduate Education Network, IGEN). National Science Foundation INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot, (Co-Principal Investigator; Subaward from the American Physical Society), 2016-2018. $300,000.

"Fieldwork Inspiring Expanded Leadership for Diversity" (FIELD). National Science Foundation GOLD, (Principal Investigator; Collaborative Research project), 2017-2020. $400,000.

"Active Societal Participation in Research and Education" (ASPIRE). National Science Foundation GOLD, (Principal Investigator; Collaborative Research project), 2016-2018. $400,000.

“Transforming Graduate Admissions.” Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Subaward from University of California). 2015-2016. $150,000.

“Competitiveness, Equity, and Mental Health in Graduate Education” (Principal Investigator). National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship, 2015-2017. $75,000

“Competitiveness and Support in STEM Graduate Education” (Principal Investigator). Seed grant from Institute for Research on Women and Gender, 2014-15. $7,030.

 “How can STEM Graduate Programs Diversify in a Post-Affirmative Action Context?” (Principal Investigator). Spencer Foundation, 2014-2015, $49,983.

 “Merit and Diversity in Doctoral Admissions: Examining the Dynamics of Faculty Judgment” (Principal Investigator). Rackham Predoctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2012-2013, Competitive selection, $28,200.

 “Merit and Diversity in Doctoral Admissions: Examining the Dynamics of Faculty Judgment” (Principal Investigator). National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals, 2011, $2,500, competitive selection

“Merit and Diversity in Doctoral Admissions: Examining the Dynamics of Faculty Judgment” (Principal Investigator). Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies, University of Michigan, 2010, $6,000; competitive selection.

“Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program,” U.S. Department of Education program grant for the University of Northern Colorado, (Co-author with Kim Black). $1,011,384.

Selected Publications

Edit Profile