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Questions to Ask on Visit Days


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Hi Folks. Let's start a thread to aggregate our questions to ask at an Open Houses and visit days.


I always ask professors and students the following questions:

What do you like most about the program/department? (Or for professor, What do you think is the program's greatest strength?)

What do you like least about the program/department? ( similarly, what's the program's biggest weakness?)


What do you hear OTHER people complain about or praise?

Do you have a list of recent placements?

What is the climate like in the department?


What questions have you asked? What questions were the most fruitful? What questions do you ask individual faculty, the DGS, or grad students?



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Never got the chance to attend visit days, but the questions I've asked through email have been something like:

What is the typical timeline (milestones, etc.) of completion for a PhD? How long does it usually take to complete the program? Have you worked with/what do you think of [professor]?

What are the graduate assistantships like? What are the typical responsibilities of a TA? Is finding a balance between coursework and your TA/RA duties a particular challenge?

How is the cost of living in [city]? Is it possible to live relatively comfortably on your stipend? Where do grad students typically live? How is the public transportation system?

Edited by Tahoma
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When you want to initiate a conversation: What are you currently working on?


Also ask them what their worst experience was while in the program (i.e. professor sabotaging a student's research, etc.).


Edit: And when I mean "them," I mean grad students.

Edited by Gauche
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What types of professionalization workshops do you offer, like grant writing?

What about a sixth or seventh year of funding?

Do you offer advance training in qualitative or quantitative methods?

Do you offer money for traveling to conferences?

Is there a class structured in the curriculum for you to produce a publishable paper?

How often do faculty publish with students?

Is summer funding available? How often are students externally funded? Is there any money given for relocation?

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I'd also try to talk with students who work with the faculty you'd like to work with and ask specifics about the faculty's advising style. Do they collaborate with students on research? Are they more hands-on or expect students to work independently? How easy is it to meet with them? This can really vary professor to professor so it's ideal to find someone working with the person you're considering.

I heard a really good question on a visit - are there any types of students for whom this program is a bad fit?


What is it like to live in ___________? Location isn't everything but it was important for me to hear, without being too leading, what students thought of the area.

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