Are Grad Students Happy?

One of the most important issues facing prospective graduate students, is choosing the right program. To hone in on the best practices for doing so, we asked our respondents to report on their satisfaction in our national survey of current graduate students.

As you can see in the figure, our respondents indicate overwhelmingly that they are satisfied with their decision to attend graduate school, and with their current graduate program. This data is in stark contrast to many of the gloomy reports seen published widely across the internet.

While the majority of grad students are satisfied, 10% of our sample are unhappy with their current graduate program. That number is too high and is probably the costly basis for the known rates of attrition. If we extrapolate our data to the over a million new graduate students across the nation each year, this suggests that in the upcoming months tens of thousands of students will be choosing the wrong program!

Of the small fraction of unhappy graduate students, 70% say that knowing what they know now they would have chosen a program at a different school, while only 11% say they wouldn’t go to graduate school at all.

This data underscores the importance of choosing the “right” program and the “right” school. Indeed, 79% of these students indicate that if they were to do it over again, they would change the way they researched graduate schools/programs.

We know that communication between prospective students and faculty and/or administrators who really know their program, is the best way to find out if a program and a school is the “right” fit. And our respondents agree, 82% of all students surveyed indicate that communicating directly with faculty or program administrators would have improved their ability to make an informed decision about graduate school and prospective graduate programs. Over 70% of students went on to say that these interactions would have made them more likely to apply to, and accept an admission offer from a graduate program or school.

These data reveal that current students recognize the importance of communicating with faculty and program administrators before choosing a graduate program, even if they didn’t do so as a prospective student themselves. Only 64% of our respondents indicated they contacted faculty or program administrators at their current program as a prospective student. But, of those who did, 92% reported that this interaction was influential in their decision to apply.

These data support the need for direct communication between programs and students. Matriculation of a student into the “wrong” program isn’t just difficult on the student, it is extremely costly to the program!

In addition to a fast and reliable method for finding suitable graduate programs, Gradschoolmatch offers students and programs a mechanism for direct communication.


Check out the other articles on our current graduate student survey:

Survey of Current Graduate Students

Graduate Student Survey – Demographics and Fields of Study

Students Don’t Apply to Many Graduate Programs

Getting Into Grad School – How to Improve Your Chances

How to Choose the RIGHT Graduate School