Associate Director and Professor of Higher Education

Contact Info

214 Meigs Hall
(706) 542-8729

Professor Hearn holds a Ph.D. in the sociology of education and an M.A. in sociology from Stanford University. He also holds an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and an A.B. from Duke University. Prior to initiating his academic career, he worked as a financial analyst at a major bank, as an administrator at a small private college, as a program research director at the American College Testing program, and as a policy analyst and project director at a Washington, D.C.-area consulting firm. In his subsequent academic career, he served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota and Vanderbilt University in addition to the University of Georgia.

At present, Professor Hearn serves as a consulting editor for Research in Higher Education.  In the past, he has served as an associate editor of the Educational Researcher and Research in Higher Education and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Higher Education, the Review of Higher EducationTeachers College Record, and Sociology of Education.  He has also served as a section editor for the annual volume Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research.

Professor Hearn is a past recipient of the Distinguished Research Award of Division J of the American Educational Research Association. In 2005, he was named a TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow. In 2014, he was presented with the Excellence in Public Policy of Higher Education Award by the Council on Public Policy in Higher Education of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

  • Ph.D., Sociology of Education, Stanford University 1978
  • M.A., Sociology, Stanford University 1976
  • M.B.A., Finance, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School) 1970
  • A.B., Duke University 1968
Other Affiliations:
Courses Regularly Taught:

Gándara, D. & Hearn, J.C. (2019).  College completion, the Texas way: An examination of the development of college completion policy in a distinctive political culture.  Teachers College Record, 121 (1).

Rosinger, K.O., Belasco, A.S. & Hearn, J.C. (2019). A Boost for the Middle Class: An Evaluation of No-Loan Policies and Elite Private College EnrollmentThe Journal of Higher Education, 90(1), 27-55.

Hearn, J.C., Suggs Jr., D.W., & May-Trifiletti, J. (2018). Taking the Field: Intercollegiate Athletics on CIC Campuses.Washington, D.C.: Council of Independent Colleges.

Hearn, J.C. & Ciarimboli, E.B. (2017). Institutional strategy and adaptation.  In C.C. Morphew and J.M. Braxton (Eds.), The challenge of independent colleges: Moving research into practice (pp. 204-228).  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hearn J.C., McLendon M.K., & Linthicum K.C. (2017). Conceptualizing State Policy Adoption and Diffusion. In Paulsen M. (ed.) Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, vol 32. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Hearn, J.C. (2017). Sunshine Laws in Higher Education. Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, State Policy Brief.

Belasco, A.S., Rosinger, K.O., & Hearn, J.C. (2015). The Test-Optional Movement at America’s Selective Liberal Arts Colleges: A Boon for Equity or Something Else? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 37(2), 206–223. 

Hearn, J.C. & Belasco, A.S. (2015). Commitment to the Core: A Longitudinal Analysis of Humanities Degree Production in Four-Year Colleges. The Journal of Higher Education 86(3), 387-416.

Hearn, J.C. & Warshaw, J.B. (2015). Mission-Driven Innovation An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges. Washington, D.C.: Council of Independent Colleges.

Research Interests:

Professor Hearn focuses his research on organization and policy in postsecondary education. His research has appeared in sociology, economics, and education journals, as well as in several edited books. 


Principal Investigator (2016). Workforce Flexibility and Strategic Outcomes in Colleges and Universities. TIAA Institute.

Co-Principal Investigator with E. Ness (2013-2016). The Distinct Role of Intermediary Organizations in Fostering Research Utilization for State College Completion Policy.  W.T. Grant Foundation.

Principal Investigator (2010). Emerging Developments in Faculty Career Contexts. TIAA-CREF.

Co-Principal Investigator with S. Slaughter (2009-2010). Centers, Universities, and the Scientific Innovation Ecology. National Science Foundation.

Co-Principal Investigator with Maryann Feldman (2007-2009). State Science Policies: Modeling Their Origins, Nature, Fit, and Effects on Local Universities. National Science Foundation.

Received for 2004-2006 funding from the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative for an analysis of governmental and institutional policy influences on student success in postsecondary education and for coordination of series of related student-success studies.

Received for 2003-2004 funding from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for a study of the financing of the humanities in U.S. higher education.

Friday, January 29, 2021 - 9:53am

In a broad survey of master’s and doctoral institutions spanning the decade around the 2008 financial crisis, Jim Hearn and Rachel Burns (PhD 2018) found no evidence that the tenure structure leads to inefficiencies in budget.

Monday, October 19, 2020 - 11:04am

In an essay, "Reframing Decision Making in the Current Crisis," published by the TIAA Institute, Jim Hearn challenges industrial production rubrics and labels often applied to gage the efficiency and effectiveness of higher education institutions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 11:46am

PhD student Ijaz Ahmad presented a paper with Jim Hearn at the 36th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium on July 2, 2020.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 3:04pm

The rapid rise in popularity and monetization of Esports (virtual simulations of sports, competitive games, and military operations) in American culture is drawing the attention of higher education leaders.

Monday, February 4, 2019 - 12:36pm

Kelly Rosinger (PhD, 2015), Andrew Belasco (PhD, 2014) & James Hearn examine the relationship between adoption of universal and targeted no-loan policies and the economic diversity at elite colleges.