Example Campus Climate Survey Questions for Higher Education

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Climate Surveys, Higher Education

Universities looking to achieve diversity objectives often implement campus climate surveys to assess student and faculty life and comfort. A campus climate survey measures how students, faculty, and staff feel supported within a university environment regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status.

A campus climate survey is one of the best ways universities can achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. However, these surveys are only as effective as the questions they ask. This article will help you discover the methodology for creating and categorizing effective campus climate survey questions to ensure success. 

Purpose of Campus Climate Surveys

Campus climate surveys provide a high-level overview of how comfortable students feel within a campus. This survey aims to assess how students, faculty, and staff feel about their campus experience to determine opportunities for improvement, allowing universities to effectively meet their diversity objectives.

Using campus climate surveys is one of the best ways to improve a university and foster a safe, welcoming environment for all visitors. Asking the right survey questions can unveil things about your institution that other methods won’t allow you to discover.

Survey Focus

Clarifying the purpose of your campus climate survey is the foundational step for any initiative. Are you primarily measuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts to ensure a welcoming and supportive environment for all? Perhaps you’re focusing on addressing issues of sexual misconduct to foster a safer campus environment. Alternatively, mental health (both problems and flourishing), drug and alcohol use, or general campus safety may be the primary focus. Understanding the specific goals of your survey allows for the tailored development of questions and the targeted collection of data relevant to addressing these issues effectively.

A different dimension of survey focus may also involve determining which populations in your community should be surveyed. Do you want to explore your students, staff, or faculty? Are you concerned with on-campus, off-campus, or remote experiences? 

Categories of Campus Climate Survey Questions

A campus climate survey explores various dimensions of campus life, measuring response rates based on different categories of survey questions. Some categories that you can measure with this type of survey include:

  • Academic environment. This category includes the quality of resources like libraries, the availability of student support services, and how well minority students are represented in the school curriculum.
  • Social interactions and inclusivity. This category measures factors like campus diversity and inclusion clubs and initiatives, interactions between diverse student populations, and students’ sense of belonging within the community depending on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status.
  • Discrimination and harassment. This category covers issues that students – particularly those of a minority population – experience on campus. It includes incidents of harassment and bullying, reporting outlets for students who experience discrimination, and how aware students are of policies that address discrimination.
  • Institutional policies and support services. This category measures students’ awareness of university policies, access to support services like counselors, and the perceived effectiveness of campus safety solutions to protect diverse student populations.
  • Overall satisfaction and well-being. This category broadly measures students’ overall satisfaction with their campus environment, including their mental and emotional well-being, sense of community, and how safe they feel on campus.

Types of Questions in Each Category

Each category within a campus climate survey asks specific questions to assess students’ overall well-being and satisfaction with the university experience. Below are specific questions for each category most relevant to the student experience within the DEI context.

Academic Environment Questions

Questions about a student’s academic environment are relevant because they explain how well-represented students feel within their university. Some questions you can ask within this category include:

  • How effectively do you feel you can utilize school resources like the library?
  • To what extent do you feel engaged with your classes?
  • What aspects of the curriculum lack diversity and representation?

Social Interactions and Inclusivity Questions

Promoting an inclusive environment is paramount to a university’s long-term sustainability and success. Asking questions about social interactions and inclusivity allows universities to assess whether students feel generally comfortable within their educational environment.

Some questions to ask within this category include:

  • Does the behavior of other students on campus and your interactions help or hurt your learning?
  • How satisfied are you with your school’s inclusive clubs and social events?
  • How comfortable are you engaging with diverse student populations on campus?

Discrimination and Harassment Questions

Preventing discrimination and harassment is essential to ensuring the safety and well-being of students, especially those belonging to a minority group. While these questions might be more sensitive, they’re critical to an effective campus climate survey. Some questions to ask in this category include:

  • Have you encountered discrimination based on your race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability on campus from students or staff members?
  • Do you feel you have a way to report instances of discrimination and harassment, and are you confident that your reports will be taken seriously?
  • Do you find the current policies in place to prevent discrimination and harassment are effective?

Institutional Policies and Support Services Questions

Ensuring your school’s policies and support services are effective is critical to guaranteeing student safety. Questions you can ask in this category include:

  • How fair or unfair do you feel the rules are for students, and do you feel the rules are easy to follow?
  • Can you rate your satisfaction with your school’s support options, such as counseling and health services?
  • How well-informed do you feel about your school’s policies regarding discrimination and harassment?

Overall Satisfaction and Well-Being Questions

Protecting a student’s mental well-being is one of the main objectives of a campus climate survey. Questions to ask in this category include:

  • How satisfied are you with your school’s overall campus environment?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how safe do you feel on campus?
  • How would you consider your mental and emotional well-being at university?

Challenges and Risks

When creating a campus climate survey, the main challenge you’re likely to encounter is that some questions are naturally more sensitive than others. For instance, questions relating to experiences of discrimination based on one’s identity or questions about a student’s experience with things like sexual harassment aren’t always easy to answer. However, these questions are integral to getting the best survey results and making concrete changes within a campus.

Because of the sensitive nature of many questions, creating a campus climate survey is best when handled by a professional, such as the team at SoundRocket.

Effective Question Design

Creating clear, unbiased, and impactful questions is vital to the success of your campus climate survey. Using specific language and avoiding ambiguity in your questions will help students provide helpful responses that shape your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts moving forward.

Designing effective questions is also possible by making some questions open-ended so students can respond and offer specific examples of situations they’ve faced on campus. Encourage your respondents to provide examples to better understand how well your university serves their unique needs.

Additionally, for categories like overall mental well-being, allow students to provide recommendations on improving your university’s services. Allowing this will provide clearer directions on reshaping campus policies to better protect students.

Professional survey methodology services from SoundRocket can help you create an effective questionnaire and study design that addresses sensitive subjects with the utmost care and respect.

Real-World Examples

Higher education institutions often use campus climate surveys to address issues with the university’s overall environment and its impact on student well-being. For instance, the University of Michigan implements a campus climate survey to measure satisfaction for students, faculty, and staff members, using these reports to make actionable changes that help the university thrive.

Additionally, institutions like the State University of New York use campus climate data to implement effective changes, promoting the betterment of student and faculty life and fostering a safe environment for people regardless of their background.


Thoughtfully designed campus climate survey questions are critical to maximizing these surveys’ benefits. Through careful questions and selecting respondents of diverse populations, your university can uncover essential information about student life and improve its campus climate significantly, fostering inclusivity and diversity.

If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of campus climate surveys, resources like SoundRocket have exactly what you need. Explore our resources and readings on campus climate surveys.

About the Author


Understanding human behavior—individually and in groups—drives our curiosity, our purpose, and our science. We are experts in social science research. We see the study of humans as an ongoing negotiation between multiple stakeholders: scientists, research funders, academia, corporations, and study participants.