Alexandria Walton Radford

Senior Director, Center for Applied Research in Postsecondary Education (CARPE)

Alexandria Walton Radford is a senior director at AIR. Dr. Radford's primary responsibilities include leading a team and working with partners to improve today’s students access to postsecondary education, postsecondary degree completion, and subsequent labor market outcomes. She is dedicated to using research, evaluation, and technical assistance to provide insights and evidence that inform both policy and practice.

Dr. Radford has 20 years of experience conducting quantitative and qualitative studies and evaluations on postsecondary persistence and attainment and transitions into and out of postsecondary education. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Radford was the director of the Center of Postsecondary Education at RTI International. There she published 18 postsecondary publications for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and served as the content expert and publications author for NCES’ Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009.

At AIR, Dr. Radford oversees AIR’s postsecondary portfolio and its Center for Applied Research in Postsecondary Education (CARPE). She serves as a senior advisor on AIR’s multi-million-dollar portfolio of postsecondary evaluation projects with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’ Postsecondary Success team. Other project work includes serving as the principal investigator for the Post-9/11 GI Bill project which links previously siloed federal data to analyze veterans’ use of benefits, completion of postsecondary credentials, and labor market outcomes. She also leads and has led projects focused on military students’ receipt of credit for military learning, high school students’ transition to college and careers, free college tuition programs for adults, student loan borrower behavior, and industry-led public-private partnerships’ initiatives with postsecondary institutions. 

Dr. Radford is also an accomplished author. Her first book, which she co-authored, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admissions and Campus Life (Princeton University Press) won the American Sociological Association’s 2011 Pierre Bourdieu Award for the Best Book in the Sociology of Education. Her second book, Top Student, Top School? How Social Class Shapes Where Valedictorians Go to College (The University of Chicago Press) analyzes original survey and interview data she collected in five states. 

Dr. Radford’s work has been cited by NPR’s Marketplace and Morning Edition, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The AtlanticThe Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and many other mainstream and trade publications.

Alexandria Radford headshot

Ph.D. and M.A., Sociology, Princeton University; B.S., Foreign Service, Georgetown University