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I'm a rising senior studying Psychology, and will be applying to PhD and Master's programs in the Fall. I have already shortlisted the advisors from the schools I would like to work with and whose research I find fascinating.

Would sending them a quick email now (late May) asking whether they are taking graduate students and expressing an interest in being a part of their lab in 2019 be too early? Should I wait until the term starts in September/October to reach out to them?

  • They generally reply when they have an announcement for a Ph.D. or M.Sc. position, otherwise, you should only contact if you have a strong reference who also know your potential future advisor. – user91300 May 24 '18 at 6:55
  • @GürayHatipoğlu That’s not true in the US and other countries where admission 8a handled at the departmental level. – aeismail May 24 '18 at 12:57
  • What does "rising senior" mean? I understand that "senior" is last year of undergrad, but "rising"? – user9646 May 24 '18 at 13:54
  • @NajibIdrissi It means they will be a senior next time they're in school, but are technically not a senior right now because they're on break, or are in the last few weeks of their junior year. – Azor Ahai May 24 '18 at 17:35
  • @aeismail I did not deny that, but check for instance aeesp.org/jobs – user91300 May 25 '18 at 7:21
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Assuming you’re talking about the US, the summer would be a good time to start contacting faculty about your interest, although the exact amount of funding and the availability of open positions more than a year ahead of time is murky at best. So you’re not likely to get a commitment at this time, but you will make yourself known to the research group, which could be of benefit in getting an admissions offer.

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In my experience, it's never too early to at least make yourself known to potential supervisors (or even potential research collaborators). Bear in mind, though, that different supervisors approach contact from potential students quite differently. For example, some are responsive, others won't respond until they have more information about whether taking students will be feasible, and some actively choose not to respond to potential students so as to ensure all applicants have a fair go.

Good luck!

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