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The recent college admissions scandal has deeply shaken many Americans. It has captivated mainstream media headlines since the story broke a week ago. It also has many thinking. Could it be happening in graduate schools too?


Before we address this hypothetical, let us unequivocally state the following. Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise us. However, we are not aware of any current scandals. Furthermore, we sincerely hope there are none in progress.

Historic Precedent

About two years ago, there was an issue involving University of Connecticut. A graduate school diversity officer there resigned due to an alleged conflict of interest. Consequently, there is, unfortunately, a precedence for a graduate school admissions scandal.

Breaking It Down

Significant collusion would be required to pull off such a scandal at the Ph.D. level. After all, what professor mentor is going to want an unqualified student assisting with their prized research? These professors tend to value their tenure. We don’t believe they could be as easily bribed as a lower-paid college employee.

If a scandal was occurring, we believe it would most likely involve a larger and more diverse masters-level class size. If anyone questioned a particular student’s profile, it could be more easily written off. “He must have slipped through the cracks.” “Maybe it’s her diverse background in [athletics, a particular industry, etc.].”

Additionally, there are usually lower-paid admissions professionals involved with these larger masters programs. Bribery is more feasible here. Add in a rogue GRE test proctor and an applicant who manages to get accommodations and we suppose anything is possible.

Disclaimer (#2)

This said, please don’t consider this a “how to” piece on illegally gaining admission. That is not our intention. If ethics doesn’t sway you, consider the prison sentences facing the rich and influential individuals named in the college admission scam indictments. Admission to graduate school (or college) is not worth incarceration!

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