How to Ask About Someone’s Education in English

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

People are usually uncomfortable talking about their educational qualifications if there is no valid reason. However, if you are an interviewer, you may need to ask the candidates about their education. Also, there are other unavoidable circumstances when you may need to ask about someone’s education.

In this post, I’ll discuss different situations when you can ask people about their education. I’ll also share some expressions and tips to ask about someone’s education. So, Keep reading the post.

As a general rule, you can say, “What is your latest degree?” or “What degree did you pursue?” or “Which university did you go to?” To ask someone about their education, you may ask about their level of education, their degree, and the place they studied.

Are you looking for a book or a guide to help you learn and improve your English? You may try English Made Easy Volume One: A New ESL Approach: Learning English Through Pictures (Amazon Link).

Table of Contents

4 Tips to Ask About Someone’s Education

Some people may feel offended if you ask them about their education. Therefore, you must handle this question with utmost sensitivity as you do it while asking someone about their age. You must not ask them about their qualification in such a way that it makes them uncomfortable.

Here I’ll give you some tips to do so.

Be Indirect, Whenever Possible

You may need to ask people about their educational qualifications in different situations. Sometimes, you cannot directly ask people what their education level is. In most cases, when you meet someone for the first time or you are in a formal setting, you should ask people indirectly about their education.

However, I would always suggest you not to ask about someone’s education if you don’t need to know or if you don’t have a good reason to ask.

However, if the situation allows you to ask anything directly about someone’s education, you certainly can do it.

For example, if you are looking for some English graduates to form an ESL Advice Community to help ESL learners, you can surely ask interested people about their education.

Compliment Them First, Then Ask

On many occasions, we may feel curious about someone’s education for so many reasons. For example, suppose you meet a man for the first time and find him very knowledgeable about English literature. In that case, you may feel like asking whether the person has studied literature at college or not.

So, here you should first appreciate him for his knowledge of literature. Then you may ask him in a tone of asking for permission if it’s ok to ask him about his education.

People like compliments more than anything. So, if you can compliment them on something and then ask about their academic interests, they might not get offended.

Be Polite in Your Words, Tone and Body Language

Politeness is the key to any conversation. Whether you are talking to someone for the first time or talking to someone younger than you, you must remain polite. Now, the question is, how can you ensure politeness?

Well! While we talk to someone, there are three core areas that we can focus on to ensure politeness, and they are choice of words, voice tone, and body language.

Consider the Formality of the Situation

Context is crucial while you talk. For example, asking someone about their education in a job interview differs from asking someone you meet at your friend’s birthday party.

You should first understand where and to whom you are talking to. Once you know whether the situation is formal or informal, act accordingly.

Remember! When you ask someone about their education, they are not bound to answer. So, make sure you politely request them rather than force them to respond.

In the later part of the post, I’ll share some expressions you can use to ask someone about their education.

General Expressions to Ask About Someone’s Education

  • You speak English very well. May I know your educational background?
  • I find your ideas regarding marketing unique. Are you a business graduate?
  • I think philosophy was your major in college. Your words are of good depth.
  • Did you study literature in university? Your references are outstanding.
  • I think you pursued a degree in this. Am I right?
  • You seem to know so much about science & technology; what did you study in college?
  • Would you please tell me about your recent academic accomplishments?
  • Is it ok if I ask you about your academic interests?
  • Is it possible for me to ask you about your educational background?
  • Would you mind if I asked about your education?
  • Do you mind telling me about your qualification?
  • What are you studying at university?
  • What do you study?

How to Ask about Someone’s Level of Education

  • May I know your educational qualification, please?
  • Would you mind telling me about your education?
  • What is your qualification?
  • Do you have any certificates of higher education?
  • What is your educational background?
  • Did you attend university?
  • What level of education are you currently in?
  • What is your level of education?
  • What is your educational background?
  • Can you share your educational details?
  • What is your education level?
  • Do you mind if I ask about your education?

How to Ask about Someone’s Degree

  • Would you mind telling me what your latest degree is?
  • May I know what your major is?
  • What degree did you pursue?
  • What’s your recent degree?
  • What is your Degree?
  • You speak very strongly – have you studied this subject?
  • You seem to know so much about this topic; what did you study in college?
  • What was your major in college?
  • You speak very confidently-have you studied this topic?

How to Ask about Someone’s Place of Education

  • Your English is excellent – where did you learn it?
  • Which college did you go to?
  • Which university are you studying in?
  • Which college did you attend?
  • Your English seems so polished. Where did you learn it?
  • Where did you complete your education from?
  • Which institution did you attend?

Sample Conversation: Asking About Someone’s Education in English

Situation: At a networking event, Maya, a software developer, meets Liam, a business analyst. They engage in a conversation about their educational backgrounds.

Maya: Hi Liam, it’s great to meet you. I’ve always been curious about the educational path for a business analyst. Where did you go to school?

Liam: Hello Maya! It’s a pleasure. I went to Stanford University and majored in Business Information Systems. How about you? What’s your educational background?

Maya: Oh, Stanford! That’s impressive. I studied Computer Science at MIT. Did you also pursue any postgraduate studies?

Liam: Yes, I did. I got my MBA from Harvard. It really helped me understand the business side of things better. What was your experience like at MIT?

Maya: It was challenging but rewarding. The tech environment there is unparalleled. It’s interesting how our fields intersect in many ways.

Liam: Absolutely! It’s always beneficial to have a holistic perspective, understanding both the technical and business aspects.

In Conclusion

In many cultures, asking about someone’s education can be very offensive. And many people don’t feel comfortable talking about their education. So, you should not ask someone about their education if it’s unimportant.

However, if you need to do so, you should use the above English expressions and follow my tips.

Thanks for reading.

Happy learning!

1. Why might someone be interested in asking about another person’s education?

Asking about education can help understand a person’s academic background, interests, and potentially shared experiences or alma maters.

2. What are some common ways to inquire about someone’s education?

You can ask, “Where did you go to school?”, “What did you major in?”, “Did you enjoy your college experience?”, or “Have you pursued any advanced degrees?”

3. How can tone influence the way I ask about someone’s education?

A friendly and genuinely curious tone ensures that the question comes across as an attempt to know the person better rather than prying.

4. Are there situations where it might be inappropriate to ask about education?

In settings where academic achievements might be a sensitive topic, or if it’s irrelevant to the conversation, it’s best to avoid such inquiries.

5. How can I share my educational background without sounding boastful?

Be genuine and share your experiences as part of the conversation, focusing on experiences and learnings rather than accolades.

6. Are there cultural nuances in asking about someone’s education?

Yes, in some cultures, discussing personal achievements or academic backgrounds might be reserved for closer relationships or specific contexts.

7. How can I ask about someone’s education if I’m considering them for a job role?

In a professional setting, you can ask, “Can you tell me about your educational background and how it prepared you for this role?”

8. Is it okay to ask follow-up questions about someone’s education?

Certainly! Asking about specific courses, professors, or extracurricular activities can lead to a richer conversation.

9. How can I handle situations where someone’s educational background is vastly different from mine?

Approach the conversation with curiosity and openness, focusing on learning from the other person’s unique experiences.

10. Why is it essential to respect all forms of education and not just formal degrees?

Every educational experience, whether formal schooling, vocational training, or self-taught skills, brings value and unique perspectives. It’s crucial to recognize and respect diverse educational paths.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 7 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

Leave a Comment