I have heard that it is impolite and improper to apply to a masters/PhD program and ask more than one professor at that university to be your supervisor. In other words, when you apply to a single program, you should have determine who you want your supervisor to be and apply upon the prospect that if that professor doesn't want you/need you, you will need to apply again at a later date with a different supervisor.

What about applying to different institutions at the same time however?

Would it be harmful in any way to apply to programs in different universities, either on the same country or internationally?

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    As has been explained in answers to many other questions, circumstances vary between institutions, disciplines, and countries. In many disciplines in the US, students are admitted to a graduate (MS or Ph.D.) program without being assigned an advisor immediately. It's reasonable to apply to as many such programs as possible. In other cases, you apply to work with a particular professor on a particular Ph.D. project (this is, for example, the traditional approach to the PhD in the UK.) In that environment, it might look bad if you applied simultaneously to work on several projects. Feb 24, 2019 at 20:48
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    Actually, in the US you probably will get an advisor but only a temporary one to give you advice in the short term. There is no expectation that you need to stay with that person. It is just a way to see that you get course advice and such until you find a permanent advisor. Don't be bashful about switching.
    – Buffy
    Feb 24, 2019 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


Actually it is good to do that. You want to maximize the chances that you get in to a program that will work for you. Applying one at a time means that it could literally take years to get accepted if your top choices don't accept you.

Don't waste people's time with superfluous applications, but definitely apply to places that you find attractive and that you think might find you a good candidate.

Whether you need to pick a supervisor as part of your application depends on both place and field. Do that if you must or if there are attractive opportunities, but keeping your options open might be a better choice if it is possible to do that.

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    In all honesty it was shocking tome to learn you are not supposed to ask multiple professors at the same institution to be your supervisor. I may have read about your work and be talented, but maybe I am not what you are looking for in your team, and I have no way of knowing that when I send my application. So if you reject me I have no fallback, even if another professor would accept me. It seems kinda to unbalanced, since I don;t see what harm comes to the professor if a prospective student asks one of his colleagues for an opportunity as well. However I apply, so I have the bias.
    – Makogan
    Feb 24, 2019 at 21:15

If you apply to a Master’s degree, you shoud apply to more than one program, as you cannot be sure to get accepted in the one you prefer the most. When I first applied to Master’s degrees, I applied to roughly 7.

When applying to PhD programs, that’s another story. I guess, if you are applying to graduate schools or structured degrees where you don’t have to find a supervisor immediately, then apply to as many as you can. If finding a supervisor is a requirement, then you should only apply to those programs you are most interested in. But I guess applying to just one program is not such a great idea, as things can unfortunately go bad!

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