Emma D. Cohen

Emma D. Cohen

Graduate Student

About Emma D. Cohen

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology at Indiana University. My research examines the ways that higher education both reflects and shapes social stratification in the United States. In particular, I focus on two related questions: 1) how does the public perceive the purpose and value of college, and 2) how does stratification shape experiences in college, and the outcomes of those experiences. I also conduct research addressing issues of race and disability in K-12 settings. Taken together, these lines of research speak to classic status attainment and social reproduction literatures. I conduct quantitative analyses of large-scale secondary datasets, originally collected national survey data, and original experimental surveys. My work appears in Social Science Research, The Sociological Quarterly, American Educational Research Journal, and other outlets.

The centerpiece of my current research program is a series of original survey experiments. In one project, which forms part of my dissertation, I use a conjoint experimental design to examine social perceptions of college graduates based on the selectivity of their school, their college majors, and other college experiences and achievements. This study explores how different college experiences shape perceptions of graduates’ characters, which have implications for hiring and other post-college outcomes. In a second vignette-based study, I examine whether the public prescribes different college majors and experiences for students of different social class backgrounds, indebted and non-indebted students, and for men and women. This study investigates the social expectations that shape students’ varying pathways through college—pathways that often result in unequal outcomes. My research is funded by Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences, the Pathways through College Research Network, the Midwest Sociological Society, and the Indiana University Graduate School.
Dissertation title: "Investigating Horizontal Stratification in Higher Education: Persistence in and Outcomes from Fields of Study and College Selectivity."
Dissertation committee: Brian Powell (chair), Jennifer C. Lee, Andrew Halpern-Manners, Jessica Calarco