Policies for Graduate Program Admissions Committees

Graduate College Policies on Program-Specific Admissions Procedures

Because graduate education involves specialized mentoring and advising and requires discipline-specific skillsets, the Graduate College recognizes that decisions about admissions to graduate programs should largely be the responsibility of program faculty. However, to ensure certain University-wide standards are met and to ensure compliance with local, state and federal law the college has the following policies governing program-specific admission procedures

  1. Minimum and Suggested Requirements: 
    1. A list of Graduate College minimum admissions requirements and documentation can be found at: https://grad.arizon.edu/admissions/requirements
    2. The Graduate College recommends that programs set additional requirements for admission in addition to these minimum requirements (e.g. higher GPAs, test scores, statements of interest, letters of recommendation, sample work, portfolios). Programs seeking to change their program-specific requirements must consult with the Graduate College to ensure that they are consistent with University policy, best practices in admissions, and local, state and federal Law. 
    3. All Program-specific requirements must be listed on the Program’s entry on the Graduate College Program Description Guide (http://grad.arizona.edu/catalog)
  2. The Application Procedure
    1. All applicants must submit an application through the Graduate College Graduate Application (GradApp) website and pay the required application fee. 
    2. Secondary applications (such as fillable PDFs, paper applications, program-specific websites, discipline-specific “single-app” websites, third party applications or email applications) are not permitted without prior approval of the Graduate College. Note that the Graduate College Application system is fully customizable for program-specific needs and in most cases secondary applications should no longer be needed. The Graduate College is also equipped to help in designing marketing and recruitment materials. Programs which have current contracts with vendors of secondary applications can contact the Graduate College to discuss approval and/or accommodations to this policy.
  3. The Composition of Program-Specific Admission Committees
    1. Each program must assemble an admissions committee of at least 2 (preferably 3 or more) faculty to review packets and make recommendations for admission.
    2. Students may not serve on Admissions Committees. However, they may be involved in the recruitment process, so long as they are not given access to the prospective student’s application packet or record. 
    3. Program Staff (such as program coordinators) may participate in the admissions committee as support personnel and in organizing applicant data but should not participate in the decision-making process. 
    4. All participants on the Admissions Committee must complete FERPA training and adhere to FERPA policy. 
  4. The Evaluation of Graduate Applications
    1. Graduate Applications should be evaluated holistically and not rely on a single factor like GPA, GRE scores etc. 
    2. Each application should be reviewed by more than one person. 
    3. If the student is being considered for funding, the committee should evaluate whether the student’s qualifications are sufficient to receive that funding. For example, Graduate Teaching Assistant positions require a higher level of English Language Competency than the minimums required for admissions. 
    4. Graduate Admissions Committees should adhere to all institutional anti-discrimination policies  http://policy.arizona.edu/human-resources/nondiscrimination-and-anti-harassment-policy
    5. While certain records may be downloaded as spreadsheet files, special care must be taken to protect the privacy of applicants. The circulation of such files should be tightly controlled and under no circumstances should an application ever be downloaded, printed or circulated outside of the GradApp System. Faculty who have taken the FERPA exam have access to the protected electronic copies on GradApp and can enter their confidential electronic evaluations there.
    6. To protect the integrity of the decision-making process, the Graduate College strongly recommends that admissions committees make use of the evaluation tools available in GradApp.
    7. Program-specific committees make recommendations to admissions to the Graduate College. Final decisions about admission are made by the Graduate College. 
  5. Communication with Applicants & Funding Offers
    1. Programs are encouraged to directly respond to inquiries about admissions to programs, but should refer questions about college-level requirements to the Graduate College. 
    2. If the program notifies students about their recommendation for admission, it should be made clear that they are only providing a recommendation and the final decision rests with the Graduate College.
    3. Multi-year funding offers are permitted. However, programs should use the template for such offers provided by the Graduate College. Please contact the college to get the most recent version
    4. All program-specific letters of admission or funding offers must be approved by the Graduate College. 

Approved: Graduate College Management Team, August 18, 2017
Approved: Graduate Council, August 25, 2017
Approved: Andrew Carnie, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate College, August 31, 2017
Effective: November 1, 2017