I have applied to a professor from another university - and from another country, in case that is relevant - about doing my undergraduate thesis under him.

He said he liked my profile and asked me for some documents (transcripts, recommendation letters, etc). After I sent him these documents, he stopped responding.

Before this I used to keep him updated about the process (when I will get my transcripts, when my recommenders will send him the letters, etc) and during this time he would always acknowledge the receipt of my mails. After my recommenders sent him their letters, he stopped responding. I know how this might look, but I have no reason to suspect that my recommenders might have anything bad to say about me. I have used their recommendations to get a scholarship previously.

This hiatus in communication took place in December last year, so this might very well be because he was on leave during this period. I verified that his university began its semester last week and mailed him, again to no response.

How do I interpret his silence? There is of course no certain answer to this. So the more important question is, should I keep politely following up - say, dropping him a mail every week or so asking if he's made a decision yet?

Note: This question on Academia.SE has a comment which says that "treat a non-response as the (reasonably expected) negative response" about emailing a professor at a foreign university. However, I don't think that applies in my case as the professor had initially expressed his interest in hiring me, so I thought he would let me know if he had later changed his mind.

  • 3
    Christmas, New Years, holidays, semester just started... I would give him another week or two. I just came back from the holidays and did nothing but checking e-mails for a day and I´m not even a Professor.
    – asquared
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:32
  • 1
    Mr. Bond, patience is a virtue ... give few days more before jumping out of your skin and move on, I fully understand your situation as I am, not in exact, but in a similar one. So best you could is wait for few days more and you shall hear from him again
    – user85631
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 16:40
  • @JayFromA You make a good point, I guess he might be swamped with emails.
    – James Bond
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 16:59
  • @Veljko89 Yes, patience is the mother of all virtues :) But unfortunately if the prof says says then I need to arrange for my visa, which can take anywhere from 3-4 months. And since I am starting my thesis this May, that is a major point of concern for me.
    – James Bond
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 17:00
  • Well then you know exactly what to tell him in next mail that you'll write to him ... in a few days ...
    – user85631
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


This happens a lot to the super busy profs. They are too famous and receiving too many emails in their mailbox. They could easily forget about them especially if they are old. Sometimes when the email is hard to response (in your case, the decision is really hard to make), things will be getting worse. They will think about it for a moment, then something else comes up like a telephone call, and then they totally forget about your email.

Two things you could try:

  1. Ask him exactly what you need, like an appointment

  2. Ask his assistant about appointment

  3. Do not over estimate yourself. When talking face-to-face, many profs are always saying positive things about you just because they are polite.

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