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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Linda Isbell

Second Advisor

Brian Lickel

Third Advisor

Holly Laws

Fourth Advisor

Joshua Kaiser

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


This dissertation explores the collateral consequences of criminal record stigma within the realm of higher education, an important institutional domain that is recognized as facilitating social mobility and providing opportunities for individuals with criminal histories. I develop an integrative theoretical framework and present two empirical studies. Study 1 investigates the relationship between criminal screening in undergraduate admissions applications and campus crime rates, as well as Black undergraduate enrollment rates. Using the Common Application's removal of criminal history questions as a natural experiment, I employ propensity score methods and estimate a series of latent growth curve models using structural equation modeling. Study 1 results show no statistically significant difference in changes in campus crime rates over time as a function of institutional criminal screening practices. However, I find that higher education institutions that did not collect criminal history information in 2019 experienced a significantly greater increase in Black undergraduate enrollment rates over time compared to colleges that continued to ask criminal history questions. These findings highlight how the potential racially disparate impact of criminal history screening may perpetuate existing racial inequalities in higher education. In Study 2, I examine the social stigmatization of college students with criminal records by their peers using a vignette-based experiment. I find that participants report the least stigmatizing responses to a fellow student with a record for a nonviolent drug or property offense, with more stigmatizing responses to a student with a record for a violent offense, and the most stigmatizing responses to a student with a record for a sexual offense. Participant political orientation, racial resentment, and belief in redeemability consistently moderate these attitudes. Although participants express support for individuals with criminal records having access and admission to higher education institutions, over half indicate their college should ask about applicants’ criminal histories during the admissions process. Study 2 findings extend our understanding of undergraduate students' attitudes about pursuing higher education alongside individuals with criminal records, and how these attitudes differ based on the type of offense documented in a criminal record. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of limitations, implications, and suggestions for future research.


Available for download on Friday, March 01, 2024