Suggested Questions For Graduate School Interviews

Ask Your Graduate Advisor

Research Interests

  • What are your current research interests? (Be familiar with the person’s publications.)
  • What master’s level research projects do you have in mind? Do these projects involve strictly out/in-door research, or a combination? Travel…field sites in mind?
  • Do you have grant money to support your research?
  • If not, are you pursuing funding and do you think that you’re likely to get it?
  • What are your research facilities? (Laboratories, specific equipment, including field research equipment and vehicles)
  • Are you available when help is needed by their students?
  • Are you willing to assist students or is the person completely hands-off?
  • When is your next anticipated sabbatical? If within the next 2-3 years, how long will the sabbatical last (one or two semesters)? Where do you anticipate being located during that time? How will your plans change affect your advisement and availability to your students?

Student Financial Support

  • How many graduate students do you typically have?
  • What percentage of your students have teaching assistantships and research assistantships?
  • Is there a limit to the number of years/semesters of assistantships a student can receive? (This is important because some schools limit you to x years of support, but the average student takes x+y years to finish. If this is the case, you want to know how those students are supported for that extra semester/year.)
  • Do you financially support student travel to meetings, such as GSA and AGU?
  • Do graduate students receive a fee waiver, or does the graduate school pay the fees out of the stipend? How much are the fees? If the fees are paid (by the graduate school or the student) out of the stipend, are they in-state or out-of-state charges?
  • If the stipend is for 9 months, are students supported during the summer? How? If not, what do most students do to cover their living expenses?


  • What is the typical duration of time required to complete a master’s degree?
  • What are your graduates doing now?
  • Do people get along professionally and personally within the department?
  • What are the course requirements for the master’s program? How many hours? Any specific courses required of all students?
  • What are the other requirements for the master’s program?
  • If there is a qualifying exam, what is the procedure for the exam? When does the exam occur (semester and year into the program)? Is there some guidance provided as to the content of the exam, or is it anything goes?
  • Do you have field support (ie vehicles)?
  • What/how/where are the library resources?

Ask Other Graduate Students

  • Where do most students live?
  • Can you make ends meet on your stipend?
  • Do people socialize within the department? How?
  • What do people do for fun?
  • Do the faculty get along?
  • What do you like the most about the faculty member (with whom you want to work)?
  • What do you like the least about the faculty member (with whom you want to work)?
  • Is the faculty member liked and respected within the department? If not, why?
  • Is the faculty member a good advisor?
  • Is the faculty member available when you need help?
  • Is the faculty member willing to assist you or is the person completely hands-off?
  • Is there a central person within the department (office) that tackles or has the answers to the millions of questions, paperwork, and minor problems that pop up?
  • How is the morale among students within the department?
  • Do you like living in the town/city/area?