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I am trying to reach out professors in my research area of interest. Some professors say on their (lab) web page that prospective grad students should submit an application for admission...

In this case, would it be beneficial to contact that professor so he/she can support my application? Does that mean that the school rules don't let the professor get involved in the process of admission? What does that mean exactly? I am asking about US schools

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    It depends on where. In the US, departments handle admissions, not the profs. – Sean Roberson Nov 2 '18 at 5:34
  • @SeanRoberson it is in the US – hbak Nov 2 '18 at 8:35
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I assume the note on the web page is to avoid misunderstandings about the application process. In some places (not the US generally) it is the professor in charge of admissions and he/she actually hires students for the lab. If students from around the world expect that to be the case, the professor may have to deal with too many individual situations, so just makes a general statement.

It isn't, I suspect, a statement that you should not contact him/her, but a warning that you need to go through the administrative admission procedures first before you can be considered.

You can contact the prof for information or to express interest, of course, but be clear that you are also making a formal application through proper channels.

The contact isn't necessary, however. There will be time for that after you are accepted to the program.

  • "In some places (not the US generally) it is the professor in charge of admissions and he/she actually hires students for the lab." - one would hope the information on the professor's website is a bit more explicit about what to submit to whom than what was stated in the OP's question. In my place, professors more or less do hire students for their lab, and the procedure is precisely that "prospective grad students should submit an application for admission" ... to the professor, rather than the department. – O. R. Mapper Nov 2 '18 at 20:52
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    @O.R.Mapper, is that in the US? What field? I think it is pretty rare in the US. Even if the prof has external funding. – Buffy Nov 2 '18 at 20:55
  • No, I'm in Germany. Last I time I checked, that counted as "some places, not in the US" ;) – O. R. Mapper Nov 2 '18 at 20:56
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    @O.R.Mapper, then it is exactly as I wrote. – Buffy Nov 2 '18 at 20:56
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    @O.R.Mapper The language you typically see is "prospective grad students should submit an application for admission to the department of Really Cool Studies" etc etc, I think OP just left that part out with their ellipsis, the rest of their question makes it seem like there is no lack of clarity in where to submit applications but they are wondering if its okay to also contact the professor directly or if that statement is meant to be a social cue not to bother them individually. – Bryan Krause Nov 2 '18 at 21:13

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