Graduate Student Experience in the Research University (gradSERU)

The School of Graduate Studies is administering the 2023 gradSERU survey from March 14 to May 9. Check your U of T inbox for a survey invitation!

Participants will automatically be entered into a draw for one of our prizes.

What is gradSERU?

GradSERU, which stands for the “Graduate Student Experience in the Research University,” is one of two comprehensive surveys of graduate students at the University of Toronto. This survey provides a powerful way for students to tell us about what’s working well, and what not so well, in classrooms, labs, and campus life.

The University of Toronto takes the results seriously in order to enhance programs and curricula, improve student services and policies, strengthen research and scholarship opportunities, and ensure a vibrant and supportive environment for all students. Learn more about how your responses shape graduate education at U of T.

Initiated by the Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) and the University of Minnesota’s Office of Institutional Research, gradSERU is a comprehensive, longitudinal study designed to help answer questions about the potential relationship between graduate education experiences, program characteristics, and development outcomes of master’s and doctoral students at leading research universities across the globe. Learn more about gradSERU.

gradSERU 2023 prizes

Week 11 x iPad Air (256 GB)
Week 4 2 x $250 gift cards
Week 65 x $50 gift cards
Week 810 x $25 gift cards

2023 Survey Administration – Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate students asked for a way to provide anonymous feedback about their experiences; gradSERU is an avenue to do this.

We have taken extra steps to ensure that your responses remain confidential.

The University of Toronto is committed to the protection of privacy.

The following text is taken from the 2023 gradSERU survey:

Consent Form

Welcome to the Graduate Student Experience in the Research University (gradSERU) Survey, co-sponsored by the University of Toronto, the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Minnesota.

The gradSERU Survey is your opportunity to provide the campus with critical information about your graduate student experience—what is important to you, what is working well, and what is not working so well. The University uses this information to improve our programs and services for graduate students. The survey will take about 20-25 minutes to complete. Your answers will be held in strictest confidence and will be analyzed and reported in aggregate only.

Your participation is voluntary, and you are free to choose not to answer any question or withdraw from the survey at any time. A withdrawal notification should be communicated via email to Once the withdrawal notification is received, the participant’s data will be removed from all data sets.

The survey includes some open-ended questions that allow you to provide a unique response. These responses will not be reviewed by University of Toronto researchers until after the survey has closed.

Potential risks in participating are minimal. Your survey responses are confidential, and your decision to respond will not affect your relationship with University of Toronto, the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, or the University of Minnesota.

We highly recommend that you complete the gradSERU Survey on a laptop or desktop computer—the survey does not function well on a smartphone.

If you agree to complete this survey, we would ask you to do the following things:

  • Click the “Agree” button
  • Fill out the gradSERU Survey, which will take approximately 20-25 minutes
  • Click the submit button at the end.

For disability services, access requests, or access-related survey support, please contact the Assistant Director of SERU Survey Research and Operations, Erin Tower, at 612-626-1875 or  

If you have questions or concerns, you may contact the Managing Director of the SERU Consortium, North American Division, Daniel Jones-White at 612-624-4851 or

If you would like to talk to someone other than the researcher(s), you are encouraged to contact Brian Desrosiers-Tam, Assistant Dean, School of Graduate Studies at

All degree-seeking graduate students who started their program during or prior to Fall 2022 are eligible to take the survey. New students as of Winter 2023 are not eligible to participate in this edition of gradSERU.

gradSERU is one of two comprehensive surveys of graduate education at the University of Toronto. gradSERU is more comprehensive than other surveys and includes a wide of range of questions specifically focused on graduate and professional student experiences at research universities. Additionally, gradSERU is readily customizable, allowing the introduction of questions specifically tailored to the University of Toronto. Learn more about how we measure our performance.

Yes. If you exit the survey before you’ve completed it, when you log back in to take the survey you’ll be directed to the place where you left off.

The survey works best if you take it using a desktop or laptop computer.

Results are reported to academic departments and administration at the University of Toronto and are used to improve our graduate programs and services. We also share our data with other universities in the gradSERU consortium to improve our understanding of educational best practices at leading research universities. The collected data is used by researchers, professors and students from various countries to gain a better understanding on how to improve the graduate and professional student experience.

gradSERU takes about 20-25minutes to complete.

Yes, we will publish a data dashboard when the aggregated data is available. You can also see the 2017 gradSERU report and 2021 data dashboard above.

Participating North American gradSERU institutions:

  • Michigan State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Participating international gradSERU institutions:

  • University of Bremen (Germany)
  • University of Gottingen (Germany)
  • Lund University (Sweden)
  • Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Contact us at

Past participation


Sponsored by U of T’s School of Graduate Studies, the gradSERU survey was most recently administered from February – April 2021. Explore the data through our public dashboard below.


The University of Toronto participated in gradSERU for the first time in Spring 2017. The 2017 gradSERU survey achieved a 20.7% response rate, with participation from 3,521 graduate students – 1,350 doctoral, 1,449 professional master’s, and 722 research master’s.

The 2017 version of the core gradSERU Survey contained 12 sections:

  • Your program
  • Entrance and Initial Experience
  • Financial Support
  • Advising
  • Research Experience
  • Teaching Experience
  • Program Climate
  • Career Plans
  • Obstacles to Degree Progress

  • Proficiency levels
  • Overall Satisfaction
  • Demographics

Three modules—Health and Wellness, Professional Development, and International Student—posed additional questions.

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