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Questions to Ask A Graduate Program

Going for a campus visit or preparing for an admissions interview with a graduate program? Bookmark this page (or download it as a PDF) to make sure you ask the right questions that will help you decide if the program is right for you.

Graduate Student Support

  • Is there a diverse group of students, faculty, and administrators?
  • Is there support for the needs of students from all backgrounds?
  • Are there regular followup meetings with graduate students?
  • Are there symposia on issues pertaining to graduate students?
  • Are there graduate education workshops for undergraduates?
  • What kind of social events does the graduate school or university sponsor each year?
  • How is the access to faculty and graduate school administrative staff?
  • Are there comprehensive wellbeing services with a professional staff equipped to serve a diverse student population?
  • How robust is the communication between the graduate school and students (e.g., newsletters, social media)?
  • Do the program, the graduate school, and the university focus on mentoring for student success?
  • How much professional development programming is there for graduate students?
  • Are there active student groups that appeal to me?
  • What kind of resources and support are there for students with children?

 

Financial Support for Graduate Students

  • Is the award merit-based or need-based?
  • What are the standard eligibility requirements (e.g., citizenship, residency, field of study, career goals)?
  • What types of awards are available? (e.g., teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships)
  • What is the stipend amount? Does the award cover tuition and fees?
  • What is the duration of the award? Is the stipend guaranteed over the life of the award?
  • Can the award be held concurrently with another award? Can it be used as a supplemental award? 
  • What are the academic requirements? (e.g., student must maintain good academic standing, must make satisfactory progress toward the degree, etc.)
  • What are the teaching and research requirements? How many hours per week are expected?
  • What are the penalties (if any) if you fail to complete the degree?
  • What are the payback provisions? Does the award require anything of you upon completion of the degree? 
  • How do you apply for the award and how are the recipients chosen? Competition (nationwide, statewide, university-wide, or departmental) or nomination by the department at the time of admission?
  • Is the award available to both master’s and Ph.D. students?
  • What kind of dissertation support funding does the university provide?
  • What kinds of travel grants does the university provide for conference participation and research?
  • Does the university provide funding support for emergencies (e.g., short-term loans, hardship assistance grants)?

For External Awards from Outside the University

  • Is the award portable (may be used at any institution to which you are admitted) or institutional (may only be used at the awarding institution)?
  • Do you have to be admitted to a school to be eligible for award consideration, or can you apply for the award before seeking admission to graduate school?

 

Academic Support for Graduate Students

  • What kind of formal and informal support networks exist in the department, the graduate school, and the university?
  • Does the campus and departmental culture encourage mentoring?
  • What research opportunities are there for graduate students?
  • What opportunities exist for scholarly discussions among students and faculty in a multidisciplinary setting?
  • Do curricula address ethnic, racial, gender, and cultural issues?
  • Are there robust English language resources for international students?