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During graduate studies online application submission period, is there any preference given for an applicant if he/she submits his application at the beginning of that period compared with someone who submits his/her application couple of hours before the deadline?

Or as long as the applications are complete there is absolutely no difference!

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Look at all the application rules and guidelines. Unless the registration/application is specifically described as first-come first-served (which would be unusual), the date of submission doesn't matter as long as the submission is complete before the deadline.

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    There may not be any formal preference given, but for example, might a committee begin looking at applications before the deadline, or read the applications in the order of submission? Being one of the first or last applications to be read could conceivably be slightly advantageous (or disadvantageous, I'm not sure which). – Nate Eldredge Nov 24 '13 at 21:18
  • @NateEldredge I don't know of any committee that actually starts looking at the files before the deadline, but maybe it does happen in some places… I don't think it's likely, though. People wait for everything to be filed, then divide the work and plough through! – F'x Nov 24 '13 at 21:36
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    In our university, the PhD deadline is usually in December. The committee doesn't start looking at application packets until everyone "gets back" in January. Anecdotally, I have heard that this is typical for most departments in the USA. – Shion Nov 25 '13 at 0:47
  • My department is the same as @Shion's. Although it's theoretically possible to sort applications by their application date in our review system, nobody actually does. – JeffE Nov 25 '13 at 2:04
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Here's some empirical evidence from my experience - having done three very late applications in the past which all ended with success.

Short answer

According to my past experience. No problem applying late - even the last hour.

Long answer

Jobs 2013: I have made last hour applications for two job posts recently, one for Computational Biologist at ICL and one for Bioinformatician at ICL. Both led to interviews followed by acceptance. Remarkably, the Computational Biologist post stated that "it is essential that the post holder has a PhD", which I did not have! I have now started this job.

MSc Course 2012: I was the last applicant of the Bioinformatics and Theoretical Systems MSc with CISBIO - most people applied during their BSc e.g. many on the course applied February but I applied in October after finishing my BSc! Not only was I accepted, but I got a scholarship that I did not even apply for! In the interview panel was a chair of BBSRC research grant, who set me up with the scholarship after the interview.

Good luck!

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