Julie R. Posselt

  • Associate 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
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Julie R. Posselt

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  • Yasmin Kadir

Research Center


Dr. Julie Posselt is an Associate Professor of higher education in the USC Rossier School of Education and was a 2015-2017 National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation postdoctoral research fellow. 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 and the 2017 Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Early Career/ Promising Scholar Award.

Her 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. This work has led to thriving research-practice partnerships with universities, disciplinary societies, graduate schools & programs, and other associations that are re-examining how we evaluate students and scholars for key academic opportunities— and support those who are in the system. Partners include the University of California, American Physics Society, and the Council of Graduate Schools.

Her current scholarship, funded by three grants from the National Science Foundation and one from the Mellon Foundation, examines movements for equity and inclusion in graduate education and the humanistic and physical science disciplines. Posselt recently completed a National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellowship for the first national study of graduate student mental health. This concurrent mixed methods project identified factors associated with depression and anxiety; investigated the roles of discrimination, competitiveness, and faculty support in graduate student wellbeing; and measures disparities within and across academic disciplines.

She has published research in the American Educational Research Journal, 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), Insider Higher Ed, among others. She is a member of the Journal of Higher Education’s and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education's editorial review boards, and is program chair for the 2019 Sociology of Education Association meeting.

Posselt earned her PhD from the University of Michigan.

Awards and Grants

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 Professor, University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education, 2019-Present

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, Univeristy of Northern Colorado, 2003-2007


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 embed inequities in departments, disciplines, schools, and universities, we can more effectively work with practitioners to develop locally resonant, effective strategies for creating more equitable, inclusive educational institutions.


"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

“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.



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