I have a situation. I want to apply for Ph.D programs in the United States at the end of this year. And right now, there are many programs in Europe open for application. Hence, I wonder if I should try to apply to them, get accepted and then refuse the scholarships.

Is it ethical? I am worried that it could affect my reputation and my LoR would no longer be appreciated in the future, leading to mistrust in my lecturers who wrote my LoR. On the other hand, getting accepted may prove my competence and prowess.

If the answer is yes, should I put it in my CV for future application?

Thank you for your help

  • 12
    You are not only wasting your own time (which is up to you), but also the time of those who go through the applications, meet and discuss who should be selected. Moreover, you are decreasing chances of applicants who actually want the scholarship.
    – Mark
    Apr 24, 2018 at 7:32
  • 3
    @user2768 A valid reason for refusing a scholarship would be that you applied for two scholarships in parallel (as supported by some scholarships programs), got accepted for both and can only use one. Apr 24, 2018 at 8:46
  • 1
    @lighthousekeeper Yes, that's a valid reason, but that doesn't appear to fit within the OP's context. They seem to want to achieve some advantage simply by applying/refusing. I'm confused on this point, perhaps I have misunderstood, which is why I have been trying to clarify the OP's intent.
    – user2768
    Apr 24, 2018 at 9:12
  • 6
    Is it a plus in my CV?NO! If anything, it's a minus. First, the acceptances are impossible to verify, so you might be lying. Second, it makes the reader wonder why you rejected all those offers without accepting something else. Are you just collecting acceptance letters? Are you going to treat us the same way?
    – JeffE
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:37
  • 1

3 Answers 3


Do not do this.

Programs in the US generally do not care if you've been offered admission to programs in other countries. You are judged on your aptitude for research and to make future contributions in your field. If you cannot convince an admissions committee this between your record, your statement of purpose and personal statements, and your letters of recommendation, then how will you get an offer in Europe—when generally the same materials are needed to get you through the process?


Unless you're genuinely interested in the scholarships offered in Europe; I would discourage you from doing this. Your application (as it is not done to the true intentions of the scholarship) will in all likely waste other people's time, resources and energy. Perhaps you may even delay or deprive another worthy applicant because of your 'strategy'. I hope you will reconsider even if you think it will advantage your application (I don't think it will at all).


As other answers and comments have said, this is a bad idea. A risk/benefits analysis shows this clearly. You risk your reputation/self esteem for very few benefits.

First, let's say you go ahead and apply for these programs, you're accepted and you turn them down as planned. What are the benefits? I don't think you can realistically add them to your CV because they're partial achievements (you didn't attend/complete the program). Even if you could, don't you have greater/better achievements that could take up that space on your CV? So, what do you gain? Experience in the admissions procedure (which may or may not help in a different continent), an "aside" to mention in an interview. You should only mention it at an interview if the offer is still open, otherwise you may be seen as more likely to turn down an offer or, worse, naive for rejecting a decent offer.

Second, let's say you apply for these programs and are rejected. Fear of failure is never a good reason to avoid something, but rejection is a real risk and will probably impact your ego. A needless rejection that you would have turned down anyway has no benefits and absolutely risks your self esteem.

The only reason to apply for these positions is to benefit yourself. If you want a back-up position and the dates work out, then apply. If you want experience and feedback from the application procedure, then it might be worth a trial application, but you should make it one that you would at least consider accepting. Otherwise, spend your time more wisely on things you CAN add to your CV - volunteer for charity, give up your time to moderate a web forum, read....

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