The Positionality of Race in Graduate and Professional School Admissions: A Theoretical and Empirical Contribution for Race Conscious and Race Neutral Policies

Dissertation Summary

The literature shows a significant number of studies that address race in admissions including its effects on university practices in terms of structure, curriculum, and interpersonal interactions at the undergraduate level. A smaller proportion of the literature emphasizes these topics as they relate to graduate and professional education including the role of admissions decision makers and related stakeholders in admissions decision-making as they relate to race, ethnicity, and culture among the decision-makers themselves in race conscious versus race neutral states. Upon review of the literature there is little known about how graduate and professional education admissions is conducted and little is known about what training or incentives is available for professional development in this area, especially as it relates to race and other attributes.

My research direction considers race, ethnicity and culture in association with the goals of pursuing diversity for benefits in the educational environment as explored inBakke(1978) andGrutter(2003) with regard to diversifying all levels of society. Using interview case study, this research highlights stakeholder perspectives through social science lenses

The purpose of my research is to shed light on admissions public policy design, practices, and strategic responses to race conscious and race neutral policies. These topics are explored from the perspective of the expanded, second generation, Sociological-Critical Race Theorists (Sociological-CRT). Aligned with this perspective, institutions, admissions decision makers, and related stakeholders who influence admissions in graduate and professional education are studied. As the overarching theory in this research, Sociological-CRT is used to: understand identities (including race, ethnicity, and culture), recognize that diverse identities are at the center of social, political, and economic relations; and accept that views about social constructions shift over time. For the purpose of this study, racial, ethnic, and cultural implicit biases rather than racism are studied as part of the Sociological-CRT because research shows it is a proven biological operation of the brain.


Lutheria Peters is a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. Lutheria attained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health degrees from East Stroudsburg University in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She’s an alumna of the Duquesne University/American Evaluation Association’s Diversity Internship Program where it trains underrepresented minority graduate students to conduct culturally responsive evaluations that ensures a voice for marginalized populations in the conducting and reporting of evaluation findings.

Lutheria is excited about being a mentor with SisterMentors because it connects her to strong historically underrepresented scholars and youth seeking to make the world a better place!