2013 Graduate Studies Survey

On August 13, 2013 by Grad Forum


The Graduate Studies Office, in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research, recently conducted the fourth annual survey of graduate students at Dartmouth. In February 2013, the survey was sent electronically to 569 doctoral students in Graduate Arts and Sciences and the Thayer School of Engineering.

This year, the survey was revised in order to allow Graduate Studies to benchmark survey findings with Graduate Studies programs at several of our peer schools. “We took the opportunity to partner with several peer schools to gather information about our graduate students’ experiences, satisfaction with their program, and outcomes,” said Lynn Foster-Johnson, acting director of Institutional Research. “The results will inform leadership about Dartmouth Graduate Studies strengths and distinctive characteristics relative to our peers. We’ll also learn more about the experiences of graduate students at peer institutions.”

The response rate to the survey was 58% over a period of three weeks. This rate was slightly lower than last year’s response rate of 64%. Seventy-eight percent of respondents were continuing graduate students, while 22% were first-year graduate students.

Overall, respondents were pleased with their graduate student experience at Dartmouth. Eighty percent of respondents indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their graduate education. Almost 60% of the respondents rated their academic experience at Dartmouth as very good or excellent, and more than half also rated their student life experience at Dartmouth as very good or excellent.

Students also expressed satisfaction with the quality of advising in their departments. More than half of the respondents rated the quality of academic advising and guidance as very good or excellent. 63% of respondents reported interacting on a weekly basis or more with their advisors, and the majority felt that they had the right amount of contact with their advisors. However, 12% of respondents did observe that they would like to have more frequent contact with their advisors.

Most students were also satisfied with their experience during qualifying exams. Ninety-one percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the conduct of qualifying exams was fair. Most of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the qualifying exams were useful in consolidating their knowledge, and the exam topics were relevant to their training.

With regard to scholarly productivity, more than half of the respondents attended a professional conference in the past year. Thirty-two percent of the respondents are published, and 37% have scholarly work accepted for publication.

In terms of future career plans, most respondents planned to seek positions in academia or industry after graduation. Almost half of those who had teaching assistantships noted that these teaching appointments increased their interest in teaching in the future. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents stated that their programs were preparing them adequately for their current career goals.

Thus, students were generally pleased with the quality of courses, advising, research opportunities, career preparation, physical facilities, and financial support. Some students did, however, express concern regarding health insurance coverage. This concern has in part been addressed by the recent addition of BASIX dental. Students also mentioned a desire for more help with academic writing. The Institute for Writing and Rhetoric offers writing support and can assist in generating ideas, developing research strategies, and providing feedback. Multilingual graduate students can also contact Dr. Michelle Cox for help with writing papers, articles, theses or dissertations, and grant applications and also for assistance in preparing presentations.

The Graduate Studies Office would like to thank Lynn Foster-Johnson and the rest of the Office of Institutional Research for their work in collecting and analyzing the survey data.

All PhD students who completed the survey were entered into a raffle for a $50 gift card to Canoe Club. We will individually contact the winners of the raffle.

Thank you to all students who participated!



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