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2 schools I applied to accepted me in early Feb.

The other schools I applied to have yet to respond and their sites say their admission decisions typically occur mid-march.

Is it accepted to contact the departments ahead of time requesting information on your app status given that you don't want to make the other schools wait too long?

My apologies if this is the incorrect forum to ask this question.

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When do you have to let the other schools know? – StrongBad Feb 26 '13 at 18:19
@Daniel E. Shub They have not given me a solid deadline because they know my predicament as well, but they wanted it within the first 2 weeks in march. – user 3235 Feb 26 '13 at 18:23
In that case I think they will understand if you ask to wait until mid-March, when you will hopefully have heard back from the others. It is probably preferable to them to wait a bit longer rather than have you accept an offer and then retract your acceptance once you get an offer you prefer. – Tara B Feb 27 '13 at 10:28
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Most graduate schools in the U.S. follow a policy that accepted candidates are not required to make a decision until a set date agreed upon by the schools (April 15th, I believe). This means you can (and should) take as much time to make your decision as you need. It sounds like you do need to make your decision earlier than that deadline (but it might be worth finding out if the other schools do follow that policy and simply asked you to make a decision earlier), so contacting the other schools is probably a good idea.

Remember, however, you are making a decision that will at the very least directly affect the next four to six years of your life, who you work and collaborate with, future contacts, where you live, and what your future employment prospects are! So, I'll reiterate: take the time you need, and get as much information as you can if you are up against a hard deadline.

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As Chris mentioned, USgraduate programs have a common deadline. International programs have different deadlines and operate on a very different system. Sometimes this is unfortunately used as a cudgel to get students to commit to a particular group by giving a short window in which the offer is valid.

That said, if you are faced with such a dilemma, I would recommend accepting the best offer you have at the time when the decisions are due. If a better offer comes along, u can reconsider your decision. You should note, however, that rescinding your acceptance is not something that is appreciated, particularly if you are planning to join a particular professor's research group as part of the admissions process.

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