Julie R. Posselt

  • Professor of Education

Research Concentration

  • Higher Education


PhD, Higher Education, University of Michigan


  • Equity & Diversity in Higher Education • Organizational Theory • Sociology of Education • Research Methods
Download CV
Julie R. Posselt

Contact Information

Websites and Social Media


  • Yasmin Kadir

Research Center


Dr. Julie Posselt is a Professor of higher education in the Rossier School of Education, Executive Director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research Policy and Practice, Associate Dean in the USC Graduate School, and President of the Sociology of Education Association. Rooted in sociological and organizational theory, her research program uses mixed methods to examine 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. She was the recipient of the 2018 American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award, the 2017 Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Early Career/ Promising Scholar Award, and was a 2015-2017 National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation postdoctoral research fellow. 

Her first book, Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping (2016, Harvard University Press), was based on an award-winning ethnographic study of faculty judgment in 10 highly ranked doctoral programs in three universities. In her second book, Equity in Science: Representation, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change in Graduate Education (2020, Stanford University Press) Posselt offered a comparative case study of equity and diversity efforts in STEM, revealing subtle ways that exclusion and power operate in disciplinary cultures and organizations, as well as strategies for systemic change. She and Adrianna Kezar co-edited Higher Education Administration for Social Justice and Equity (2020, Routledge) with top education scholars and equity-minded administrative professionals.

This work has led to thriving research-practice partnerships with universities, disciplinary societies, graduate schools & academic departments. Dr. Posselt founded and directs the Equity in Graduate Education Consortium (EquityGradEd.org), a national professional learning community of 24 universities and graduate programs. The consortium has been replicated in England, and partners in both countries are transforming both individual and organizational practice. They are realizing significant gains in diversity, while adhering to legal restrictions on race-conscious admissions. 

In total, Posselt has been awarded more than $20 million in grants and contracts over her career. Her current scholarship, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, critically examines strategies for increasing diversity; the potential and limits of disciplinary societies as organizations driving change; and the role of disciplinary cultures in shaping access, opportunity, and wellbeing of historically excluded groups.

Posselt's research is published in the American Educational Research Journal, Science, Nature, Annual Review of Sociology, Research in Higher EducationJournal of Higher EducationTeachers College Record, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others. Her work has been highlighted in Science, The Atlantic, New York Times, Slate, Times Higher Education (UK), Inside Higher Ed, among others. She is past Associate Editor of the Journal of Higher Education’s and is a member of numerous editorial review boards and advisory boards. 

Posselt earned her PhD from the University of Michigan.

Awards and Grants

Forbes magazine. Higher Education Admissions Influencer. 2019.

American Educational Research Association, Early Career Award, 2018

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

Courses Taught

ED 653: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods 1

ED 654: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods 2

ED 688: Institutions, Organizations, and Equity in Education

ED 708: Advanced Student Development Theory

ED 707: Administration in Higher Education



Professional Affiliations and Memberships

Associate Dean, USC Graduate School, 2021-Present

Professor, University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education, 2023- Present

Associate Professor, University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education, 2019-2023

Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education, 2016-2019

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Education, 2013-2016

Assistant Director, McNair Scholars Program, University of Northern Colorado, 2003-2007


My team and I examine institutionalized inequalities in higher education and academia, as well as efforts to reduce inequities, increase diversity, and improve wellbeing in these sectors. This work informs public policy and institutional practice — at USC, nationally, and internationally. I have advised the Biden-Harris administration on their STEM equity and educational opportunity agendas, served on three National Academies consensus studies, and have developed impactful research-practice partnerships with universities and disciplinary societies. In these activities, and as President of the Sociology of Education, Associate Dean of the USC Graduate School, and a mentor to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, I offer relational, adaptive leadership and a commitment to walking the talk of inclusive excellence. 


“Collaborative “INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network”; Principal Investigator.” 2018-2024. 2018 USC award $1,498,324; 2022 supplement $75,199; 2023 supplement $119,870.

"Building Capacity of the Sloan Centers for Systemic Change: A Partnership with the Equity in Graduate Education Consortium,” Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Trustee Grant, 2024-2026, $1,200,303.

“Examining the Potential and Limits of Rubrics as Tools of Racial Equity in Graduate Admissions: A Sequential Mixed Methods Study”, National Science Foundation, 2023-2027, $1,279,774.

“Equity in Graduate Education Consortium”, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Trustee Grant, 2022-2024, $563,088.

“Service Agreements for Equity in Graduate Education Consortium Memberships,”  2022-2024, totaling $266,000.

"Alliance for Multicampus Inclusive Graduate Admissions" (a.k.a., AMIGA). Mellon Foundation. (Assessment Lead & Senior Advisor; Subaward from the University of California), 2018-2022. $1,200,000.

"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

 “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.

“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.



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