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Graduate education and social stratification

Graduate and professional education play an increasingly important role in economic inequality and elite formation in the United States, but sociologists have not subjected stratification in and through graduate education to the same level of scrutiny recently applied to undergraduate and subbaccalaureate education. In this review, we discuss how prominent stratification theories might be extended to studies of the role of graduate and professional education, and we review research about stratification at junctures along student pathways into and through postbaccalaureate education to the labor market. Especially in doctoral and professional education, we find persistent stratification, including pronounced educational inheritance and disparities in participation and degree attainment by race/ethnicity and gender. We propose future directions for inquiry, highlighting unanswered questions and conceptual issues concerning how the field of and pathways through postbaccalaureate education contribute to social stratification.