Posted on March 29, 2021 by Christopher Reichert


The Culture, Literacy and Language (CLL) Ph.D. program received an honorable mention and $1,000 in the Innovation in Doctoral and Terminal Master’s Program Admissions award.

According to Jorge Solís, Ph.D., the Graduate Advisor of Record for the CLL program, the award is part of the graduate school’s efforts to identify ways to better support its students.

“The Innovation in Doctoral Admissions award is a way to recognize programs that have been doing good work in supporting and mentoring and, in this case, admitting and recruiting students to the Ph.D. programs,” he said.

Solís attributes this recognition to several factors, including the program’s background, its approach to admission, and the effects it has on the admissions and application process. For example, Solís says that despite the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the CLL program has seen a rise in recruiting, as well as an increase in the ratio of students accepted versus students enrolled.

In addition to a boost in enrollment, Solís says the program has successfully  sustained their  recruitment and admission of diverse PhD students in the past three years including more African American PhD students.  

“[This] is something that we feel proud about because we like to see ourselves as being able to recruit the most qualified students into our program,” he said. “We see a lot of diversity around language and sociocultural practices of learning.”

Solís also credits the program with recruiting often overlooked and marginalized Ph.D. students, such as those who work full time in schools or in non-profits and want to engage in educational research. 

 “Our program is meant to engage folks in high levels of research and practice,” he said, “so it’s a little more flexible in that regard. We’ve also been able to recruit folks who don’t fit the traditional academic mold, who have very diverse experiences but also highly relevant professional experiences. I think that’s something that we’re doing pretty well.”

As a part of the emphasis on non-traditional and first-generation candidates, the CLL program has begun to focus its admission criteria more on statements of purpose and letters of recommendation than on test scores or undergraduate performance.

“The way we like to think about it is we place special attention on the information that’s there, as a way to de-emphasize these other measures that we don’t see as predictive,” Solís said. 

Ultimately, Solís is honored that the department has received recognition through the award.

“It means a lot to us,” he said. “If anything, it’s very gratifying to hear from a faculty perspective that we’re on the right track and that we are being inclusive and recruiting the most qualified applicants into our Ph.D. program...I think this means that we’ve been able to communicate our research and expertise out there into the market of admissions, and applicants are seeing us as a place they want to be mentored.”

He says he looks forward to sharing news of the award with the department faculty and hopes to use the award money for recruitment, to better engage with incoming students, or even to support a fellowship for students.

For more information on the Culture, Literacy, and Language Ph.D. program, visit the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies .

- Christopher Reichert

— Christopher Reichert