Curriculum Vitae

Josipa Roksa


To what extent does education amplify, preserve, or reduce social inequality? This has been the central question guiding Professor Roksa’s scholarly inquiry.  In addressing this question, her recent endeavors have focused in particular on understanding how students’ experiences in higher education produce observed disparities.

More specifically, Professor Roksa’s recent and on-going work has encompassed three areas of inquiry: a) inequality in the development of critical thinking skills during college (funded by the Spencer Foundation, with Ernest Pascarella and Charles Blaich), b) the role of financial aid in fostering academic success and persistence of low-income students in STEM (funded by the NSF, with Sara Goldrick-Rab), and b) inequality in research skill development among graduate students in biology (funded by the NSF, with David Feldon).  Each of these projects illuminates the role of students’ experiences, including interactions with faculty and peers, inside and outside of the classroom, in fostering student success.

In a similar vein, Professor Roksa has been keenly interested in understanding how educational institutions compensate for (or amplify) inequalities in family resources.  After considering the role of cultural capital in K-12 education and transition into college, she is currently focusing on the role of family resources in facilitating success after students enter higher education.  With a prolonged transition to adulthood, “emerging adults” today rely extensively on their families both during and after college.  While Aspiring Adults Adrift, co-authored with Richard Arum, provides some indication of family support after degree completion, it does not speak to parental influences while students are in college.  During her sabbatical year (2016-2017 academic year), Professor Roksa is considering how family resources in general and parental involvement in particular translate into educational success during college, and how higher education institutions can decrease inequality by engaging productively with parents as well as minimizing the influence of family resources.

Alongside her faculty appointment, Professor Roksa has served in several administrative roles, including Special Advisor to the Provost (2012-2016) and Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2012-2015).  She has also collaborated with Richard Arum on convening faculty in six disciplines to articulate learning outcomes and assessment strategies.  The resulting edited volume (Improving Quality in American Higher Education) aims to offer resources to departments and institutions as they grapple with the difficult questions about defining and measuring student learning.  All of these endeavors, as well as Professor Roksa’s scholarship, aim to make higher education just a little better tomorrow than it is today.

Selected Publications


Selected Recent Articles

Roksa, Josipa, and Richard Arum. 2015. “Inequality in Skill Development on College Campuses.”  Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 39: 18-31.

Potter, Daniel, and Josipa Roksa. 2013.  “Accumulating Advantages over Time: Family Experiences and Class Inequality in Academic Achievement.” Social Science Research 42: 1018-1032.

Roksa, Josipa, and Melissa Velez.  2012. “A Late Start: Delayed Entry, Life Course Transitions, and Bachelor’s Degree Attainment.” Social Forces 90:769-794.

Roksa, Josipa, and Daniel Potter.  2011.  “Parenting and Academic Achievement: Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Advantage.” Sociology of Education 84:299-321. 

Roksa, Josipa, and Tania Levey.  2010. “What Can You Do with That Degree? College Major and Occupational Status of College Graduates over Time.” Social Forces 89:389-416.

Roksa, Josipa.  2010.  “Bachelor’s Degree Completion across State Contexts: Does the Distribution of Enrollments Make a Difference?” Research in Higher Education 51:1-20.

Roksa, Josipa, and Melissa Velez. 2010.  “When Studying Schooling is not enough: Incorporating Employment in Models of Educational Transitions.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 28:5-21.


University of Virginia Sociology Department
Randall 206
P.O. Box 400766
Charlottesville, VA 22904

Office Hours


Phone | Fax

(434) 924-6528 | (434) 924-7028



Undergraduate Level

  • SOC 3130 (311/313) – Introduction to Social Statistics
  • SOC 327 - American Public Education: Successes & Challenges
  • SOC 3370 (337) - Schools & Society
  • SOC 3371 (3559) - Merit, Privilege & American Higher Education

Graduate Level

  • SOC 5100 (510) - Research Design Methods
  • SOC 5120 (512) - Intermediate Statistics
  • SOC 5370 (8559) - Inequality in Higher Education
  • SOC 5420 (542) - Social Stratification
  • SOC 7130 (711/713) - Intro to Social Statistics