Best Focus Groups for College Students in 2023

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I first got into focus groups when I was a broke college student working part-time at a VERY minimum-wage job at a spice manufacturer. 

So naturally, my ears perked up in one of my marketing classes when I learned that market research firms pay anywhere from $30-50 per hour for regular people like me to give their opinion!

I started searching everywhere I could to find these miraculous opportunities that can save me from scrubbing floors and toilets on my precious weekends. My eagerness led me astray, however, as I responded to a now obviously sketchy ad that promised a directory of local focus groups for a small fee of $45….

Needless to say – scam city. 

My goal now is to save people like you (and young Stans across the world) the trouble, hassle, and money (never EVER pay for focus groups). I have a special place in my heart for college students since this is when I discovered how great of a side-hustle focus groups are. 

But as I learned the hard way, navigating the industry can be murky waters sometimes. Stan’s Gigs takes all the guesswork out of market research by recommending the top focus groups in different categories, and tips to make it an easier and more enjoyable experience.

So – wanna participate in some of the best focus groups for college students? Look no further! Keep reading to find out!

Why Choose Focus Groups as a Student?

If anyone needs a side gig, it’s college students. Without a stable income or fully developed marketable skills (yet), finding a job that feeds your stomach without sucking your soul can be a rare find.

Focus groups are basically an outlet for you to share your opinions about brands and products you use. They typically run about 1-3 hours and you can earn almost as much (if not more) than your friends that spend their weekends at the local bar while you’re drinking at the local bar. Don’t brag, though. Just send them here 😉

Most groups are conducted during the week which works well for the flexible schedule of a college student. Plus – you don’t have to give up your weekends (it IS called beer money for a reason, and who wants to give up prime party time)?!

5 Great Focus Groups for College Students

Recommending specific sites is always tricky when addressing national audiences. BUT below I listed very high-quality firms that we are familiar with. Many of these companies offer online studies or have multiple branches in major cities across the United States. 

Plaza Research:
Don’t be discouraged from the ugly website – this group is one of the best firms you can sign up with. They have locations in 14 major cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tampa, Philadelphia, Dallas, and more!

Payout ranges from $50-200 cash, which is pretty average but the cash is definitely a plus. They offer refreshments so come thirsty and/or hungry for a snack.

To register, just fill out a basic form (no longer than 5 minutes). Someone will contact you with the info you provided when studies you qualify for become available. 

SIS International:
SIS can be a bit overwhelming when you first land on their page, but I’m here to tell you it’s worth it! Their physical location is in the NYC area, but they post and host studies from all over – including Europe. 

Focus Groups are available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC, Miami, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston and many other cities nationwide.

Their feed is disorganized, but the quality of opportunities are great. With interesting and relevant topics such as social media, lifestyle surveys, healthcare, etc, you will likely find something for you.

I’ve seen everything from $25-300 per study.

Alder-Weiner is a smaller firm with locations in SoCal and Chicago (prime college towns). Their LA location is right outside of UCLA.  

But they also have a national database where you can participate in online studies from anywhere! They have a very consistent stream of studies, so you won’t be left high and dry wondering when the next group will post.

Expect anywhere from $75-450. That’s a big gap, but I rarely see any other firms offering that large of a payout!

Fill out a short survey upon sign-up to be entered in their database. 

Prize Rebel:
Prize Rebel prides itself on being a bit more engaging than other survey sites. They gamify the process through diversifying ways to earn. You can take surveys (of course), watch videos, participate in contests & sweepstakes, complete random tasks on the internet, etc.

They also incentivize you to earn MORE points through tier levels. Rewards are in the form of gift cards and PayPal. 

It’s like Swagbucks, but better.

Fieldwork is a national firm that offers taste tests, product trials, in-home interviews, shop-alongs, and phone and online interviews. With at least 4 locations in every region of the U.S. Of course, you can also participate online or via phone if you are still not in one of their cities.

Topics range from breakfast to video games, so it’s unlikely you will be bored.

Other Places to Look

Other than looking at specific sites, there are some other great places for students to find focus groups to participate in.


Luckily, college campuses are a major hub of high-quality and interesting studies. Your neighborhood campus psychology, engineering, and humanities departments are usually buzzing with students eager to ace their next research project.

These opportunities come year-round and are available both online and in-person. Postings are typically on department bulletin boards, campus poll posts, and announcement boards.


Craigslist attracts students and academic professionals alike because of its accessibility and cost-efficiency, which helps attract people that are not typically found on campus.

It’s a great platform with, not to say your spidey senses are completely off.

Read our article about best practices when finding studies on Craigslist.


Who woulda thought the millenials’ almanack would also double as a resource for finding active studies? Well, Redditors apparently. 

Check out the subreddits r/beermoney, r/focusgroups, r/paidstudies and r/paidstudy for regular posts about firms recruiting, and user experiences – the good, bad and ugly.

Final Thoughts

No matter if you choose to sign up for specific databases or like to wander around until you find a study that calls to you – I hope this article helped you realize focus groups are a great way to make money without losing out on time, sleep, or parties.

The beautiful thing about focus groups is how flexible they are. You can still work, go to school, hang out with friends… all while making some extra cash to fund your lifestyle. There’s not a lot of side-hustles that allow for all of those things to stay balanced.

So… have I convinced you yet? Will you sign up for a focus group this quarter! Let me know any thoughts or questions you have!

Till payday!

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