Prudence L Carter

Prudence L. Carter is the E.H. and Mary E. Pardee Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Berkeley.  Dean Carter’s research focuses on factors that both shape and reduce economic, social and cultural inequalities among social groups in schools and society.  A sociologist, she examines academic and mobility differences influenced by the dynamics of race, ethnicity, poverty, class, and gender in U.S. and global society.  

Before being appointed Dean at Berkeley, she was the Jacks Family Professor of Education and Professor of Sociology (by courtesy) at Stanford University. She was also the Faculty Director of John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, and the Director of the Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 2007, she was Associate Professor of Sociology at Harvard University.

A product of public schools in the Mississippi Delta, Dean Carter received a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics and economics from Brown University; earned a Master of Art in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University.

Dean Carter’s award-winning book, Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White (Oxford University Press, 2005), engages with and interrogates cultural explanations used to explain school achievement and racial identity for low-income Black and Latino youth in the United States. Keepin’ It Real was recognized as the 2006 co-winner of the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award given by the American Sociological Association (ASA) for its contribution to the eradication of racism; a 2005 finalist for the C. Wright Mills Book Award, given by the Society for the Study of Social Problems; and an Honorable Mention for best book given by the section on Race, Class, and Gender of the ASA.

Her other books include Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, and Inequality in U.S. & South African Schools (2012) and Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give Every Child an Even Chance (2013), co-edited with Dr. Kevin Welner — both published by Oxford University Press. Her other publications have appeared in various journals and book volumes. Her research has also been featured in the Peabody Award-winning documentary “Mind the Gap: Why Are Good Schools Failing Black Students” by journalist Nancy Solomon and has been featured on dozens of National Public Radio (NPR) shows across the United States.

Dean Carter is an elected a member of the National Academy of Education; the Sociological Research Association; and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She also serves on the Board of Trustees and chairs the Program Committee of the William T. Grant Foundation in New York; and is a board member of SOAR (Support, Opportunities, and Rapport) for Youth.

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Carter, Prudence L. and Kevin G. Welner. Eds. (2013). Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give All Children an Even Chance. New York: Oxford University Press.

Carter, Prudence L. (2012). Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, and Inequality in U.S. and South African Schools. New York: Oxford University Press.

Carter, Prudence L. (2005). Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White. New York: Oxford University Press.

​2007 Distinguished Book Award, Honorable Mention, Race, Class, and Gender Section, American Sociological Association
2006 Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, American Sociological Association
2005 C. Wright Mills Best Book Award Finalist, Society for the Study of Social Problems

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles & Manuscripts

Carter, Prudence, Russell Skiba, Mariella Arredondo & Mica Pollock. (Forthcoming). You Can't Fix What You Don't Look At: Acknowledging Race in Addressing Racial Disparities. Urban Education.

Carter, Prudence L. (Forthcoming). “Educational Equality is a Multifaceted Issue: Why We Must Understand the School’s Sociocultural Context for Student Achievement.” Russell Sage Foundation Journal for Social Sciences.

Russell, Susan Garnett and Prudence L. Carter. (Under review). “When the Past is in the Present: The Paradox of Social Inclusion in South Africa and Rwanda.”

Carter, Prudence L. (2010). “Cultural Flexibility among Students in Different Racial and Ethnic School Contexts,” Teachers College Record 112(6): 1529-1574.

Carter, Prudence L., Jakeya Caruthers, and Jesse Foster. (2010). “Knowing Their Lines: How Social Boundaries Undermine Equity-based Integration Policies in U.S. and South African Schools,” Perspectives in Education, vol. 27(4): 351-364.

Carter, Prudence L. (2009). “Equity and Empathy: Toward Racial Achievement and Equality in U.S. Schools in the Obama Era,” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 79(2): 287-297.

Warikoo, Natasha and Prudence L. Carter. (2009). “Cultural Explanations for Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Academic Achievement: A Call for a New and Improved Theory,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 79(1): 366-394.

Carter, Prudence L. (2006). “Straddling Boundaries: Identity, Culture, and School.” The Sociology of Education, vol. 79(3): 304‐328.

Reprinted in Schools and Society: A Sociological Approach to Education, edited by Jeanne H. Ballantine and Joan Z. Spade. 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 151-162, 2008.

The Structure of Schooling: Readings in the Sociology of Education, edited by Richard Arum, Irenee Beattie, and Karly Ford. 2nd edition. Belmont, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., pp.295-312, 2010.

Squires, Catherine, Laura Kohn Woods, Tabbye Chavous, and Prudence L. Carter. (2006). “Evaluating Responsibility and Agency in Gendered Violence: Black Youth Talk about Violence and Hip Hop.” Sex Roles, vol. 55 (11-12): 725-737.

Carter, Prudence L. (2004). “Beyond Ascription: Racial Identity, Culture, Schools, and Academic Achievement.” The Du Bois Review, vol. 1(2): 377‐388.

Carter, Prudence L. (2003). “Black Cultural Capital, Status Positioning, and the Conflict of Schooling for Low-Income African American Youth.” Social Problems, vol. 50(1): 136-155.

Carter, Prudence L., Catherine Squires, and Sherrill Sellers. (2002). “Reflections on Race/Ethnicity, Class and Gender Inclusive Research,” African American Research Perspectives, vol. 8(1): 111-124.

Neckerman, Kathryn, Prudence L. Carter, and Jennifer Lee. (1999). “Segmented Assimilation and Minority Cultures of Mobility,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 22(6): 945-965.



Ph.D., MPhil Sociology, Columbia University

M.A. Sociology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Sc.B. Applied Mathematics & Economics, Brown University

Curriculum Vitae


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