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When we make you an offer, you will be invited to visit the Department of Chemistry and Twin Cities for a weekend; however, if airfare is needed, we only pay for flights within the United States. We do not pay for international flights. If you would like to arrange a non-paid visit or tour prior to your offer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following list of questions to ask and things to observe has been compiled from graduate student feedback over the years, and will offer a starting point for you as you prepare for your visit.
Suggestions for what to observe and ask
Things to observe: are they approachable, willing to answer questions, enthusiastic about their work.
- Where do your graduate students find jobs or post-doctorate positions after graduate school?
- Do you take an active part in helping your students find jobs or post-doctorate positions after graduate school?
- Typical length of graduate education in your group?
- How often are your students allowed to present at national chemistry meetings?
- How long is a student typically a teaching assistant in your group?
- How many students do you typically take in your group/year?
- Tell me about the process of choosing a research adviser.
- By what date do I need to choose an adviser?
- Do your provide monetary support for the summer months?
- Do you encourage and support students in applying for graduate school fellowships?
- Tell me about the size of your lab and how your lab is structured?
- Do you have regular group meetings and, if so, how are they organized? Large or small subgroups?
- What percentage of entering doctorate candidates graduate within 6 years with a degree?
- Ask about funding . . .
- Publications—tell me about your students' publications (How many? In which journals?)
of graduate students
Things to observe: Do most of the students look happy? Do the students have balance in their lives?)
- Tell me a little about your first year of graduate school.
- How many hours are spent in class and/or studying?
- Is there collaboration or competition among students in the classes?
- Are the professors helpful in answering student questions?
- Tell me about the difficulty of the classes compared to college classes.
- How many classes will I need to take?
- Are there entrance exams to pass?
- How many must be passed?
- If not all are passed, do I have a chance to retake the exam or do I need to take a class in the area of the exam?
- What are preliminary exams like?
- When are they taken?
- Are there cumulative exams (written tests) to pass?
- How many must be passed and what is the time frame for passing the exams?
- On what is the preliminary oral exam based?
- Original research proposal relating to research or totally independent of research?
- Once prelims are passed, how many hours do you typically work/week?
- What do you do outside of the lab?
- Do the graduate students have some balance in their lives?
- Are there department events that promote community building; i.e., annual picnics, softball, or bowling leagues?
- Do graduate students interact with each other well or is there competition between research groups?
- How often are students allowed to present at national chemistry meetings?
- How long is a student typically a teaching assistant vs. a research assistant?
- What are the responsibilities of a teaching assistant?
- How many hours/week are committed to this responsibility?
- Are there clear chains of command in case of problems?
- What are the tuition/fees per year of graduate school?
- Is the graduate school stipend enough to afford a decent place to live, have fun, pay fees, etc.?
- Will I need to take out a loan for basic living expenses?
- How is health insurance covered here?
- What type of premium will I pay?
- Is the student health center any good?
- What do you do for fun?
- What types of cultural experience are available in the area?
- Describe the night life.
- Is housing affordable in the are surrounding the university?
- Ask for typical rent for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment.
- Do most graduate students live with a roommate?
- Is there a program through the department that provides help in finding a roommate and/or place to live?
- How safe is the area surrounding the university?
- Is it necessary to use the campus escort service after dark? What is the crime like in the city?
- Overall, what is the political environment of the department?
- Is there graduate school union?
about a specific professor you're interested in
If you want to know about a specific professor whom you want to work with in the future, here are some questions to ask graduate students:
- What is the reputation of the professor?
- What is the chain of command in his/her research group?
- How many years to receive a doctorate in his/her group?
- What is his/her relationship, formal/informal, with students in his/her group?
Prospective Graduate Students
Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies
135 Smith Hall
Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies
115 Smith Hall
- Director of Graduate Studies in Chemistry
- Professor Philippe Buhlmann
- Director of Graduate Studies In Chemical Physics
- Professor Aaron Massari