I am a senior who is graduating in December 2020. In May, I contacted a potential PhD advisor at my own university, and he was interested enough to offer early admission (in Spring as opposed to Fall). It took the professor 2 hours to respond.

I emailed him 4 days ago about confirming the offer still existed, along with the possibility of starting research in Fall (why not get a good start?). If he does not respond for another couple days, would it be appropriate to do a "walk-in" during his designated "office" hours? I don't expect him to immediately reply, however I am a bit anxious to make sure everything is good-to-go.

  • 3
    Four days ago, so at the weekend? Give him a bit longer to respond! Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 7:14
  • How long did it take for him to respond to your question in May?
    – Jeroen
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


Yes, if you have the opportunity to visit for a few minutes in person, you should do that. Ask if there are any further steps you should immediately take.

For an email reply, a few more days of waiting is better, but a quick visit is likely fine. Express your excitement about the future, etc.

In these perilous time, few now have the opportunity to do this sort of thing in person, but it is the preferred way. And, your situation isn't very typical since you probably already know the person and you are an "out of cycle" applicant.


Speaking from the other side of the fence (a possible advisor...), I receive about 50 emails per day. 30 can be deleted straight away (newsletters, invitation to bogus conferences...). 20 need reading, out of which 10 need no further action (or perhaps a brief acknowledgment such as "sure, here is the photo"), leaving me with 10 that require anywhere between 5 mn and 5 days to answer (look up a reference, set an appointment, do a calculation, read a document...).

If for some reason I skip a day's worth of email (teaching, travelling, in the field, on leave...) that's then 10 + 10 = 20 emails waiting for me to process.

So - for something for which the reply is not immediate, surely a few days lag, up to a week in busy times, is not unexpected. In your case, your request probably needs some thinking (is it administratively feasible, do I have other applicants, do we need to discuss the project together etc) so your mail will go to the "reply latter" pile to give me time for an articulate answer. The delay is a good sign in a way: if it was a straight "no", it would be in the "process immediately and get rid of it" pile.

In which case I'd be actually glad to see you popping in - discussion in person, unless particular circumstances (language issues...) is so much more efficient than waiting for an email conversation! And it will be one less email to answer :-)

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