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### 2023 Survey Reveals Latest Graduate Student Insights

The gradSERU survey, conducted biennially, explores the graduate students’ journey comprehensively, revealing a general satisfaction with certain aspects while pinpointing areas necessitating enhancement.

The outcomes of the 2023 survey have been released.

The analysis unveiled that despite students expressing a strong sense of belonging at CU Boulder and contentment with the guidance, educational opportunities, and research exposure they receive, there exist areas earmarked for improvement. These encompass the remuneration structure and the overall campus atmosphere for individuals of diverse ethnicities or those with disabilities.

Conducted from March 13 to May 5, 2023, this biennial evaluation aimed to delve into the entirety of students’ graduate experiences. It was distributed to all graduate and professional students (excluding those in business administration and law programs) enrolled in the spring semester of 2023, totaling 3,848 students. In total, 1,395 students partook, yielding a response rate of 36%—an increase from the 28% recorded in 2021.

E. Scott Adler, the dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate affairs, expressed gratitude to all who engaged with the gradSERU survey last spring. He emphasized the critical role of this feedback in enhancing the understanding of the graduate student landscape at CU Boulder.

“We are continuously refining the services and support provided to our graduate students, hence it is imperative that we gain deeper insights into their identities and career aspirations. The insights derived from such findings steer our strategies and undertakings within the Graduate School and the broader university.”

The Graduate School has initiated several changes following the receipt of the survey results, including:

  • Addressing student concerns regarding the cost of living and compensation through stipend increments, enhanced benefits, and the waiver of obligatory fees.
  • Prioritizing the physical and mental well-being of graduate students by embedding counselors across all schools and colleges, alongside eliminating the insurance co-pay for community providers in this year’s insurance scheme due to the escalating demand for counseling services.
  • Recognizing the significance of the advising relationship in the well-being of graduate students, the Graduate School has launched a new advising and mentoring initiative, featuring a collaborative working group tasked with identifying and advocating for mentoring best practices. Additionally, the Graduate School secured funding to advance its mentoring program for both faculty and students.
  • Appointing a faculty director for diversity, equity, and inclusion to coordinate, promote, and bolster such efforts within the college and departmental programs. The Graduate School also welcomed a new entity from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement (ODECE) dedicated to fostering a diverse student community.

The gradSERU survey is a biennial undertaking, with the inaugural survey in 2021 and the subsequent one scheduled for 2025. These assessments afford CU Boulder the opportunity to monitor shifts in graduate programs and compare student experiences across time.

Highlighted below are key findings from the 2023 survey.


  • Satisfaction with financial support from all quarters was reported by 68% of funded graduate students.
  • Approximately one-third of financially supported graduate students indicated that their stipend adequately covered living expenses in the Boulder area.
  • Concerns about housing costs troubled more than half of the respondents (54%), with 28% expressing worry about food scarcity due to financial constraints.

Academics and Advising

  • An overwhelming 89% of respondents affirmed the efficacy of their advisor’s assistance. Moreover, 86% expressed willingness to choose the same advisor again, with 84% indicating a preference for CU Boulder.
  • The majority of respondents expressed contentment with their research opportunities (90%), program quality (85%), and access to quality advising (84%).
  • A significant proportion of graduate students acknowledged fair treatment by faculty members in their respective programs (91%).

Teaching and Research Experience

  • Students engaged in research activities reported high levels of confidence in conducting research within their fields. Over 85% felt competent in adhering to best practices of integrity and reproducibility in scientific research, critically evaluating existing literature and data, and applying research methodologies.
  • A substantial percentage (77%) expressed satisfaction with their ability to conduct independent research, while others were content with supporting faculty research (63%) and collaborating with peers (63%).
  • Nearly 75% of students undertook teaching responsibilities, with satisfaction levels high among those who received training (75%).
  • The consensus was that teaching enriched their academic journey and contributed positively to their professional development.

Health and Well-being

  • Among the obstacles hindering degree progress, “course load” was identified as the primary concern by 38% of graduate students, a shift from 2021 where “emotional health problems” took precedence. “Mental health problems” emerged as the second most cited obstacle (35%).
  • A significant proportion of students felt a sense of belonging within their programs, with 84% affirming their belongingness and 85% acknowledging the program’s creation of a supportive and collegial environment.
  • Regarding awareness of mental health and wellness services, 93% of students indicated familiarity with [ppp1].

Career Plans

  • The inclination towards non-academic career paths among graduate students continued to rise. Predominant career interests included industry or for-profit sectors (74%), higher education institutions (63%), and government or non-educational organizations (55%).
  • A considerable percentage (77%) found their primary advisor instrumental in offering guidance on academic career options, with 61% acknowledging assistance in non-academic career paths.
  • While only 38% perceived communication on post-completion non-academic career options from their programs, 72% felt supported by their departments in exploring non-academic avenues.

Equity and Diversity

This segment of the survey gauged perceptions of the climate for various identity groups compared to others.

  • Respondents largely believed that the climate for females was at least as favorable as that for males (76%), with a similar sentiment reciprocated by 96% of respondents.
  • LGBTQIA+ students indicated comparable climate experiences to heterosexual peers (76%), while the overall perception of the climate for LGBTQIA+ students was positive (85%).
  • Students with disabilities were divided in their assessment of the program climate, with 58% feeling parity with their non-disabled counterparts, while 69% of non-disabled students perceived an equitable climate.
  • Students of color expressed mixed views on the program climate, with 54% feeling parity and 66% of all respondents perceiving equitable treatment for historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups.

The Graduate School views the diverse data sources on students and programs as pivotal in ongoing planning and decision-making processes. The institution remains committed to updating the graduate student community on its progress in addressing critical issues identified in the data. Further details can be accessed on the [ppp2].