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Questions to Ask During a Graduate School Interview

by Kristie Sweet, studioD

When you apply to graduate school, particularly schools of medicine and business, you may need to interview as part of the process. The interview allows the school to learn more about you as a potential student, but it is also an opportunity for you to decide which school is best for you. Preparing questions can alleviate your anxiety regarding the interview and help make the choice of school easier.


Your questions should show your enthusiasm and knowledge about the program. Learn about the school, the specific program and the faculty within the program to which you are applying to develop appropriate questions. Just as with a job interview, establishing that you know something about the program demonstrates your interest and indicates that you have conducted some research. For instance, if the program lists internships in the course catalog, ask for examples of where students worked in the past. For programs requiring dissertations, ask how long students typically take to finish them.


You can learn about how to fund your graduate degree outside of traditional financial aid by formulating questions about opportunities and past successes in the program. Create questions about teaching assistant options, fellowships and research projects you might take part in. Indicate that you know the number of required credits but want to know how long most students take to graduate. Ask if the school sets limitations regarding other employment while attending and how successful students may be if they work. Inquire about career options after graduation and the number of graduates able to land jobs in their chosen field. Find out where past graduates are working.


You can get an idea of how rigorous the program is by asking how many students stay in the program for the duration. Questions about faculty-student ratio, academic assistance, library and lab facilities, mentors and advisers help you determine the amount of support you might expect from the school. Ask about possibilities for conducting, presenting and publishing research to illustrate your enthusiasm about the field and willingness to learn and share with others. Inquire what sets this program apart from others of its kind to learn more about the school.


The delivery of your questions affects the impression you make. Practice phrasing your questions so they are grammatically correct. If necessary, write them out in a small notebook or on index cards and refer to them during your interview. Asking follow-up questions or those based particularly on a question or comment from the interviewer demonstrates your critical thinking skill and comfort in social situations, both of which may be important for entry into the program. Listen attentively to responses and take notes to convey your interest.

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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