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I'm looking to tour a few grad schools in the near future, but I can't find any dates for tours for any of the schools I'm interested in.

The school I attend has tours for potential grad students, but I'm not sure this is a thing all schools do.

Do grad schools typically have days where they hold tours? Should I contact the schools I'm interested in? If so, who should I contact?

(I have not yet applied, I'm about a year away from that.)

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"Tours" are different from "open houses". On "tours" there is zero chance you'll meet or hear from any faculty. At an "open house", there is 50% chance you'll hear from one or more faculty, and 25% you can actually talk to faculty during the reception. It would be very rare (and delightful) that a graduate applicant "open house" would have most or all of the faculty.

Regarding "open houses", there are three possible methods to find out about them.

First is to look at the Department's web site, and check under "Events" and/or "News". (Sadly) They might only give 2 weeks notice for "open houses".

Second, the department might have a mailing list where you can add your email address to receive regular (daily or weekly) emails on upcoming events.

Third, the open house may be not associated with the department but instead it might be hosted by the School, College, or equivalent. You may need to add your name/email to a mailing list for these events.

Remember: Departments are notoriously irregular in their "customer service" in this regard. Almost no academic departments have incentives to perform their operational processes effectively.

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If you are in the middle of the graduate school application process, they will generally tell you (upon acceptance) when their open house is. If you are thinking ahead (e.g., to next year), I would send an email to the office of graduate admissions, or perhaps to the chair of graduate admissions for the department you're interested in. They may not have organized large-scale tours for prospective graduate students who have not been admitted, but I imagine they might be willing to work with you to get you on a campus tour, set up a meeting with professors whose work you are interested in, etc.

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Most graduate schools will hold some sort of open day/evening/session. Where you can find out more about the course/program you are interested in and possibly meet faculty and current students and go on a tour or similar.

The way these things are organized varies from place to place and I have seen events organized at the university, department and group level. The smaller events tend to have greater interaction with faculty/students but may miss general impression of the institution.

Information about when these events happen is generally available on the university/school website. However, it is not always obvious and may be hidden somewhere in the graduate admissions or events section and may not be up to date.

If you can't find the information you want you could contact someone at the university. Whoever is in charge of graduate admissions is probably the best bet. But, if you can find any email that is to do with admissions enquiries they should be able to help.

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  • Any chance you could change that "most" on the front there? That was absent at 3 of the 4 graduate schools I've gone to. 3 in the US. 1 in Japan. We also don't run one for the potential graduate students where I am now.
    – virmaior
    Feb 24 '15 at 13:57
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Why not just set up the time yourself? Look through the faculty and find the professors that interest you, and then contact them. That's what I did - I met professors individually, spoke about my research interests, and asked them about theirs. They were almost always extremely kind and helpful, and I did this at about 5 schools. You could even call the department and ask if they have a department administrator or coordinator who might help you coordinate a scheduled day.

Not only did this help me get a sense of what the schools were like, but I found out later that, when my name came up in the admissions pile, it was recognized, and helped me get in.

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