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Understanding perceptions of graduate admissions from multiple stakeholders can cultivate an improved understanding about the process of graduate induction, the role that admissions plays in restricting diversity in physics, and contribute to more informed practices for all involved. Prior studies in graduate admissions have reported on how certain admission criteria weigh in the consideration of applicants primarily from faculty perspectives. Motivated by the concept of multivocal knowledge, in this article, we report on prospective students’ perspectives of the importance of the same admission criteria—a stakeholder group that is critical but underempowered in the admissions process. We identify a substantial agreement between students and faculty regarding the importance of recommendation letters, undergraduate math or physics GPA, and standardized exam scores (GRE). On the other hand, students rated several criteria, including personal statements, prior research experiences, publications, and familiarity with department as significantly more important than did faculty. A perceived “overimportance” of criteria may be detrimental to students’ admissions-related decision making and reduce their chances of success, so these results emphasize the importance of taking students’ perspectives into account in the admissions process.

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Originally published in Physical Review Physics Education Research.

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