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Columbia University Graduate Research Assistant Interview Questions & Reviews

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Easy Interview

Graduate Research Assistant Interview

Graduate Research Assistant

I applied online and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Columbia University.

Interview Details – Application Process: Reach out to the prospective professor(s) to determine funding availability and if there is a place for you. If you have a strong interest and are able to conceive of a possible proposal so much the better but this amount of experience in an applicant is rare. Needless to say anyone with NSF or other independent funding is a shoe-in.

As far as I know acceptance is finally determined by a vote of the faculty of the particular department. The culture of the university is heavily academically nepotistic, in that faculty tend to favor students from schools with a long history of Columbia association, usually with emphasis on association with that particular department's collaborative partner schools.

Acceptance is primary driven by: undergraduate school reputation and strength of recommendations. GPA is used as a minimum bar(typically >3.5). Past experience and your willingness to participate in ongoing research (perhaps not what you'd exactly like to do) and the faculty's awareness of your interest count for a lot. Many beginning doctoral acceptees are 24-26 and have work experience/specific well-aligned research interests.

A word about differences in the program from other schools:

One year to study for your qualifier exam instead of two. No preassigned research rotations, go looking early for a research adviser. Focus is on getting you to the research part fast.

Interview Question – There are none.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – There is none. Pay is fixed by the department for all students for the first year. Thereafter you're adviser's grant determines your salary. It tends not to vary much.


Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Graduate Research Assistant Interview

Graduate Research Assistant

Interviewed at Columbia University

Interview Details – Interviews with professors, no transparency. There is no true bar or a way to tell who gets accepted

Interview Question – I wasn't asked anything particularly difficult or unexpected.   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Graduate Research Assistant Interview

Graduate Research Assistant
New York, NY

I applied online and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Columbia University.

Interview Details – Application to the PhD program is standard. Three letters of recommendation are probably the most important, followed by research experience, then grades and reputation of undergraduate institution. There's also a personal statement and GRE scores.

Interview Question – There was no interview for my position, just the application.   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Graduate Research Assistant Interview

Graduate Research Assistant

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Columbia University in February 2008.

Interview Details – I met with 4 professors, and each of them spent an hour asking me questions regarding my background in science. They clearly expected me to be able to describe experiments that I have done in the past and put emphasis on the rational of my experiment design and ability to reason.
They are all very nice, and some of them spent more time telling me about their research than asking me questions.

Interview Question – Why didn't you do well in that course (you got a C)   View Answer

Negotiation Details – All graduate students get paid the same, so there is not need for negotiation.

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