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Questions to Ask When Applying to Graduate School


You've probably heard before that an important aspect of your acceptance to grad school is whether they think you are a good fit for their program.


It’s also up to you - and in your best interest - to assess if their program is a good fit for you.


It can be hard to differentiate between programs when you're just looking at websites all day. A great way to assess fit is to talk to people at the program! This includes both faculty and current graduate students.


Below I’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask both faculty and grad students at the programs you’re applying to. You can reach out to them independently, or you can use them as a guide during your interviews!

 

20 Questions for Faculty


Note: it's important you do proper research before asking questions to faculty, whether that's in your grad school interview or you've reached out independently. Don't waste their time by asking questions that can be easily answered online.

  1. What is your mentorship style? Do you tend to be more hands-on or hands-off?

  2. How often do you meet with your students?

  3. What qualities are you looking for in research assistants?

  4. Where do your students typically end up? Academia? Clinical work?Industry? Something else?

  5. How long does it typically take your students to complete the program?

  6. How do students earn authorship opportunities in your lab?

  7. Are there collaboration opportunities with other labs?

  8. What do funding opportunities look like?

  9. Is summer work expected?

  10. How many hours a week do students work at your lab? Is this the same in the summer?

  11. What are the larger goals of your research? How do you see your research evolving over the next 10 years?

  12. To what extent would my research be a continuation of an existing line of research? And are there opportunities to spearhead projects that fit in with the broader goals of the lab, but that may not already be existing lines of questioning?

  13. How many of your students work in addition to their course load and research?

  14. When do students typically choose their advisor?

  15. Is funding guaranteed? What does financial aid look like?

  16. How do you feel about non-research careers (if this is what you want!)?

  17. Are there opportunities to attend conferences?

  18. [FOR ASPIRING CLINICIANS]: What is the average licensing exam pass rate here?

  19. [FOR ASPIRING CLINICIANS]: What practicum opportunities are offered?

  20. [FOR ASPIRING CLINICIANS]: What is the match rate to APA-accredited internships?

 

20 Questions for Graduate Students


  1. How do you feel about living in [city]? What does housing look like?

  2. Why did you choose this program?

  3. What is the cost of living like here, and how does that match up to your stipend?

  4. How would you describe your advisor in 3 words? Do you like them? Why/why not?

  5. If making the decision again today, would you still choose this program? Why?

  6. How is the social life here? Are there opportunities to meet friends, significant others?

  7. How much free time do you have?

  8. To what extent are your professors understanding, caring, and compassionate?

  9. How would you describe the academic environment here?

  10. How supportive is this community for underrepresented minorities and POC? What kinds of resources are available for my community?

  11. How would you designate this program’s emphasis on clinical experience vs. research vs. teaching?

  12. Are you friends with other grad students in your program? Is the climate friendly or competitive?

  13. What do your courses look like each year?

  14. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of this program?

  15. What kinds of projects are you working on? Are these ones that have already been developed, or did you develop them yourself?

  16. What are your mentor’s expectations of their students?

  17. Do you collaborate with other research labs?

  18. What if I want to switch advisors - is this possible? Do people do this at your program?

  19. What do you wish you knew before starting? Any advice for me as I prepare?

  20. What do you want to do post-grad, and how is the program supporting these goals? Do you feel equipped for that?

 

Sources


Dr. Mitch Prinstein Grad School Advice (aka holy grail - listen to his interview on Psych Mic)

Post-grad questions (Ryan Rubenzahl)

Grad School Interview Questions

Prospective student questions to ask

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