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Alexandria Walton Radford

Program Director, Transition to College

Alexandria Walton Radford, PhD, is a leading expert in sociological issues surrounding postsecondary education and students' transition to college. Her newest book, Top Student, Top School? How Social Class Shapes Where Valedictorians Go to College, challenges the assumption that high achievement in high school automatically translates into students' attending postsecondary institutions that match their academic ability.

Her previous work, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admissions and Campus Life, won the American Sociological Association's 2011 Pierre Bourdieu Award for the Best Book in the sociology of education. It examined how race and class shape the postsecondary experience at each stage—from application and admission to enrollment and student life on campus.

Her other publications, which draw on years of research for the US Department of Education and other clients, have examined college counseling, college choice, college coursework, online education, remedial education, military students, education tax benefits, persistence and attainment, and subbaccalaureate students' labor market outcomes.


  • PhD, Sociology, Princeton University
  • MA, Sociology, Princeton University
  • BS, Foreign Service, Georgetown University (graduated cum laude and with honors)

Latest Publications

Radford, A.W., Coningham, B., & Horn, L. (2015). MOOCs: Not just for college students—How organizations can use MOOCs for professional development. Employment Relations Today, 41 (4):1-15.
Radford, A.W., Robles, J., Cataylo, S., Horn, L., Thornton, J., & Whitfield, K. (2014). The employer potential of MOOCs: A survey of human resource professionals' thinking on MOOCs. Durham, NC and Research Triangle Park, NC: Duke University and RTI International.
Radford, A.W. (2013). Top Student, Top School?: How Social Class Shapes Where Valedictorians Go to College. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Radford, A.W., Lew, T., & Shaw, S. (May 2013). Today's baccalaureate: The fields and courses that 2007-08 bachelor's degree recipients studied. Web tables (NCES 2013-755). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
View all publications by Alexandria Walton Radford (28)


  • High Achievers
  • College Choice
  • College Counseling
  • Postsecondary Persistence and Attainment