Recently, one of my friends got admission into PhD program at a University, The chair emailed admission acceptance letter and then followed up with a personal email asking if there are any questions that he can answer about the school. He asked to call and ask if any questions. This post will have a list of questions you have to ask the School if you were offered PhD admission letter and you had to talk to the chair. The decision is much complicated if you have acceptance letters from multiple schools and these questions will help you decide.
Typically when you apply for PhD, you choose multiple schools and if your application is really good, you might be offered admission at multiple places. Once you get the offer letters of PhD admission from multiple schools, you will have to decide. In the process of deciding you might have to judge the school based on a set of questions and how others are rated on it. Here are the list of questions that can be used. PhD is a Four to five year commitment and you will have to be very careful when you choose the school. If you choose the wrong school that does not fit your interests and your lifestyle, you will hate it so much and regret your decision. So, be careful.
As an example, I am taking Computer Sciences(CS) as the PhD program and School as University of Massachusetts (UM) and the student was offered Teaching Fellowship.
Question to ask after PhD Admission offer letter :
- What are the research areas in CS at UM ?
- How much Coding / Theory is involved in CS research at UO ?
- How many professors are there in CS Department ? How many PhD students ?
- How many PhD students are assigned to a professor ?
- How is the interaction with Professor for PhD students ? Daily or Weekly ?
- Does school support and fund to attend CS Academic and Research Conferences in other countries or domestic conferences ?
- How many conferences do we get to attend as PhD student ?
- Are there any specific requirements on publishing Scholarly journals as PhD students ?
- Do we travel abroad for PhD research and research collaboration if any ?
- How long does it take for PhD to complete ? Typical time period ?
- When are the Qualification exams for PhD taken ? Which year ?
- Is there a dual program ? Will I get MS in CS and then PhD ? How does Dual degree work at UM?
- What are my options if I do not clear Qualifiers (just in case) ? Will I get Masters at least?
- How long will the funding be offered for PhD ? How many years after Qualifiers completion?
- How many students are in a typical class for Teach Fellowship(TF) ?
- Are there Research Assistantships available instead of TFs ?
- How is On-campus housing for PhDs ? Where do PhDs usually live?
- Do I get on-campus housing ?
- How does insurance work ? Does full insurance always come with TF ?
- How many Female/ Male PhD students are there in CS program ?
- If I am offered funding, when is the last date for me to tell the decision to accept the PhD and Funding offer ?
- Is there any contract that I have to sign as soon as I accept offer ?
- Do I have to come to UM and talk to professors before I accept the offer ?
- How is Student life at UM (you can get this of websites) ?
For some of the questions, you can get information on the website. You do not need to ask those kind of questions to the chair. But, rest of them you have to ask and clarify. If you have any questions that you can think of, add as comment.
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