53 Questions to Ask Grad Students

It can be difficult to ask the right questions when interviewing a grad student. Do you want to know about their research interests? Their previous coursework? About their future career plans?

All of these things are important, of course. But there’s more to a person than just their academic credentials. To get to know someone on a deeper level, you need to ask the right questions.

53 Questions that will help you get to know grad students better:

  1. What motivates you to keep learning?
  2. Who are your role models?
  3. What made you decide to go to grad school?
  4. How did you decide on a particular program/school?
  5. What do you think sets your research apart from other work in your field?
  6. What personal qualities do you think are essential for success in your field?
  7. What has been your favorite thing about grad school so far?
  8. What has been your least favorite about grad school so far?
  9. Can you tell me about the admissions process?
  10. How long did it take you to get a response after you applied?
  11. Was it worth the wait?
  12. What do you think about online/distance learning?
  13. What are your research interests?
  14. Have you had the opportunity to do an internship or research? If so, tell us about it!
  15. What kind of job do you hope to have after graduation?
  16. What do you think is the most important skill to succeed in grad school?
  17. How is your graduate school experience different from your undergraduate school experience?
  18. What has been the most challenging part of grad school so far?
  19. What has been the most rewarding part of grad school so far?
  20. How do you balance work and free time/family?
  21. Do you have any advice for undergraduates who are considering going to grad school?
  22. What was the biggest surprise about grad school, good or bad?
  23. Do you feel your program is preparing you well for your future career?
  24. How are your fellow students doing?
  25. Do they come from similar backgrounds as you or are they quite diverse?
  26. Do they share your interests and passions?
  27. How well do you all get along?
  28. Have you made any friends in your program? Tell us about them!
  29. What are your long-term career aspirations?
  30. How do you think your graduate program is different from others?
  31. What has been your favorite course or professor so far?
  32. Do professors seem passionate about their subjects?
  33. Are they engaging and interesting?
  34. Do they treat students with respect or seem condescending?
  35. Have you had particularly memorable experiences in class – good or bad?
  36. How involved have you been in extracurricular activities outside of class?
  37. Are there any clubs or organizations on campus that you are involved in? If so, which ones?
  38. Are you involved in any community service or volunteer work?
  39. What leadership roles have you taken on during your time in graduate school?
  40. Have you published any papers? If so, can you tell me about them?
  41. What student research projects have you completed so far?
  42. What courses are you currently taking?
  43. Do you already have teaching experience?
  44. Do you feel like graduate students are adequately supported by the administration at your school (e.g., psychological support, academic advising)? If not, what do you think could be done better?
  45. What do you like about the city where your school is located?
  46. What has been your experience with the housing situation around campus – have you found affordable housing that is both close to campus and safe?
  47. Who are the most influential people in your field of study?
  48. What are the most important publications in your field?
  49. What are the most important conferences in your field?
  50. What are the current topics in your field?
  51. How has your field changed since you studied it?
  52. What contribution will you make to your field of study at the grad school?
  53. Do you have any other comments or advice you would like to share about graduate school in general?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of graduate school?

Graduate school is an important next step for individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree. It provides an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in a chosen field of study and can lead to better-paying jobs. It can also be a stepping stone to furthering one’s education by earning a doctorate.

How many years does a graduate program take?

A graduate degree can be earned in many different ways, but it usually takes about two years. There are accelerated programs that can shorten the time to one year or even less, but these are rare. Some fields, such as law or medicine, may take more time. A graduate degree is an important investment in your future and can open up many opportunities.

What should a graduate advisor do?

A graduate advisor should be a resource for their students, helping them navigate the process of completing their degree. They should provide guidance on courses to take, suggest research opportunities, and help them decide on the next step in their education. Graduate advisors are invaluable resources and should be consulted regularly by students seeking advice and assistance.

What are the biggest challenges of graduate school?

The biggest challenge for most students is adjusting to the new academic rigor. Graduate courses are often more challenging than undergraduate courses and require more reading and independent research.

In addition, students often have to balance their coursework with a full-time job or other commitments. The workload can sometimes be overwhelming, but it is important to stay focused and push through. The graduate school offers many opportunities, so do not give up when things get tough. Seek out help from your professors and fellow students and make the most of your graduate education.


Grad students are some of the most passionate, dedicated, and hardworking people around. If you are thinking about pursuing a graduate degree or just want to know more about what it’s like, these questions are a good place to start.

From why they chose to go to grad school in the first place to their funniest stories, these questions will give you a comprehensive picture of what it’s like to be a grad student.

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