Session #2: Inclusive Pathways: Spotlight on Graduate Admissions

Session #2

Inclusive Pathways: Spotlight on Graduate Admissions

October 19, 2021

Charmaine Williams, Vice-Dean, Students, SGS
David Burnes, Associate Dean, Academic, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Ruth Childs, Professor, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE
Elizabeth Page-Gould, Graduate Chair, Psychology

Highlights from the panel discussion

Barriers or challenges to inclusive graduate admissions

What programs are doing to mitigate these issues

Processes and practices

  • Adjusting admissions practices to become more welcoming, such as waiving applications fees for international and/or under-represented students.
  • Hiring Indigenous experts to review admissions materials to evaluate what is communicated and emphasized, how the materials might look and feel to Indigenous applicants.
  • Changing the admissions review scoring process to address implicit bias and add value to the benefit of different experiences.


  • Focusing on targeted outreach through programs such as the Canada Summer Research Opportunities Program, and Summer Mentorship Programs for Black and Indigenous youth.
  • Creating a dedicated admission stream for Black and Indigenous applicants where applications are reviewed by Black and Indigenous faculty members (which necessitates having a diverse faculty compliment).
  • Creating or promoting support systems for students from diverse backgrounds once they have been admitted.

Informed decision-making

  • Collecting demographic and admission data to evaluate the impact of changes.
  • Researching how other programs at other institutions are transforming their admissions processes: what is asked, how materials are handled, what other types of indicators are considered beyond the GPA, and how they handle large applicant pools.

Perspective from SGS

Role in recruitment

Planting the idea of pursuing graduate studies in students’ minds through recruitment initiatives focused on undergraduate students

Hosting recruitment talks that address the “hidden curriculum” (i.e., socialization students may not be aware of).

Looking at the path to entry through Master’s programs where possible.

Supporting a diverse graduate student population

Creating programming for under-represented students through our Centre for Graduate Mentorship and Supervision, Center for Graduate Professional Development, and Centre for Graduate Academic Communications.

Increasing the diversity of the graduate student, faculty, and administrator populations so that prospective students can see themselves in graduate education.

Thinking about how we bring students into our spaces by considering and changing our “rituals” upon entry and throughout graduate studies.

Future conversations

Resources relevant to the session

SGS Non-standard Admission Process [PDF]

SGS Future Students

You belong here – Recruitment video for Indigenous graduate students

U of T Student Equity Census

Application Fee Waiver Program – Department of Psychology

Faculty of Social Work – Diversity & Equity

Canada Summer Research Opportunities Program

Summer Mentorship Programs for Black and Indigenous youth

Related research