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Who Are We Missing? Examining the Graduate Record Examination Quantitative Score as a Barrier to Admission into Psychology Doctoral Programs for Capable Ethnic Minorities

  • Gómez, Jennifer M.1, 2
  • Caño, Annmarie3
  • Baltes, Boris B.4
  • 1 & Family Development (MPSI)
  • 2 Center for Institutional Courage, Palo Alto, United States
  • 3 College of Arts & Sciences, Gonzaga University
  • 4 Department of Psychology, Wayne State University
Published Article
Training and education in professional psychology
Publication Date
Apr 05, 2021
DOI: 10.1037/tep0000336
PMID: 35528021
PMCID: PMC9075693
PubMed Central
  • Article


The field of psychology must racially/ethnically diversify to create a workforce that can meet the needs of education, training, and interventions in an increasingly pluralistic society. Systemic bias in psychology doctoral programs’ admissions process may partially account for relatively few psychologists being underrepresented minorities (URMs). The use of the Graduate Record Examination Quantitative score (GRE-Q) is one important modifiable barrier. The purpose of the current study is to go beyond replicating the association between the GRE-Q and desired doctoral outcomes by examining if a cut-off score for the GRE-Q as a proxy for potential to succeed in psychology doctoral programs disproportionately impacts URMs. Participants ( N = 226) were psychology doctoral students at a Carnegie-classified Highest Research Activity (R1) large Midwestern university, who were admitted to graduate school from 2001 to 2011. Our findings show that, while controlling for undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and prior master’s degree attainment, the GRE-Q predicted grades in two required graduate statistics courses and overall graduate GPA. Importantly, all students, regardless of their GRE-Q score, demonstrated competence in their statistics coursework, as assessed by their course grades. Moreover, we found that guidelines that bar admission into the psychology doctoral program for students with low GRE-Q scores would have disproportionately impacted URMs, resulting in 44% being barred admission versus only 17% of their White/Asian/Pacific Islander counterparts. Practical implications include introducing holistic review protocols into the admissions process, while educating faculty on how heavy emphasis on the GRE-Q contributes to inequitable exclusion of capable URMs.

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