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To the editor:  

The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill has worked hard on initiatives relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion for more than a decade in order to provide better access to graduate education and to serve as a model for excellence in graduate education in our state and beyond. As dean of The Graduate School, it is my priority to support current and prospective graduate students by reducing barriers to graduate education, including those mentioned in the recent column on applying to graduate school, which highlighted inequalities that can affect prospective graduate students, such as application fees and the GRE. 

The Graduate School expanded its fee waiver eligibility from five categories for 2021 admissions to 10 eligible populations for 2022 admissions and has also expanded eligibility within existing fee waiver categories. Typically, The Graduate School approves several hundred fee waiver requests each year; some academic programs also have fee waiver programs that complement The Graduate School’s fee waiver process. The details of our application fee waiver process can be found on The Graduate School’s website

In 2020, The Graduate School began a five-year pilot program to not require the GRE in applications. This decision was made to reduce barriers in the application process with the goal of enhancing access to graduate education on our campus. The decision to require the GRE now rests within our graduate programs. Only 10 percent of graduate programs UNC administered by The Graduate School are requiring the GRE for the 2022 admission cycle. Not requiring the GRE is part of a national trend among institutions of higher education, and a decision accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affected underserved communities.  

The Graduate School and its staff work tirelessly to continue our long-standing commitment to increasing access to graduate education in our state. Importantly, our commitment extends beyond the phases of recruitment and admissions to include those who matriculate at Carolina for their graduate studies. Several initiatives, including our Diversity and Student Success program, established more than a decade ago, support student success and complement the training which graduate students receive within their departments. Our ultimate goal is to position all graduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill to successfully complete their programs and to enrich our University community with the variety of viewpoints, backgrounds, and lived experiences they represent.  

Suzanne Barbour, Ph.D.
Dean, The Graduate School


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