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I'm a master's student applying to PhD programs this round, and a few schools will be bringing in new professors in my field of interest starting from 2021. When I sent in my applications and checked off faculty of interest, I chose "Other" and wrote their names down.

I'm just curious if these professors have any say in the admissions process? Does the school grant access to the information for those professors even if they're not yet officially affiliated with the institution?

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    As far as I know, my department does not ordinarily involve future faculty in the admissions process for graduate students. On the other hand, if a future faculty member told us "I understand that student X is interested in working with me and I'd be really pleased if you'd admit her" then that would certainly carry some weight with the admissions committee. If we had nothing from the prospective adviser but the student had said "I'd like to work with Prof. Y", then an alert member of the admissions committee might email or phone Y and ask about that student. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 5:31
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    I'm incoming faculty for 2021, and I have been given access to the admissions system and asked to review relevant students. So it seems like the correct answer is that it varies from school to school!
    – JHare
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 7:29
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    @JHare I think both your situation and the OP's are not standard for the US: in many schools, the hiring for Fall 2021 is not yet done, and would not be finalized before we start reviewing PhD students. Though things might also vary quite a bit by department not just school.
    – Kimball
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 15:18

2 Answers 2

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The US does not have a national higher education system. Policies vary by State by institution, and possibly even by field. Moreover, what is appropriate in one field may not be in another. There are likely also different policies in place for the consideration of candidates with baccalaureates only, vs those with masters degrees.

My guess is that the most common system is to have a committee review all candidates to attempt to assure fairness and even treatment. Such committees will have policies set, perhaps, at the department level or, perhaps, at a higher level. In most fields, professors don't sponsor candidates as they do in some other countries.

Such policies might include the opportunity for exceptions in some cases, or at least taking informal advice from outside the committee. But it is also possible that policies are strictly observed - fairness, again.

On the other hand, if a new faculty member expresses an interest in a particular person, especially in a field in which the advisor needs to be chosen at entry, then their views would probably be considered and even have some weight. How much weight is impossible to say.

On the third hand, I think that if the new hire were at an entry level, Assistant Professor with no prior experience, that they won't have any leverage at all, other than a sense on the part of more senior faculty that a collegial atmosphere is good to establish.

Thus, I would expect that at most institutions, the "boost" such an applicant would get would be small and tenuous. But possible.

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As far as I know, in most schools there is a committee made up of professors and administrators that decides on which students get invited for interviews (or gets offer letters). While the committee members may take your interest into account, I do not think that the newly recruited professors would be part of this committee, so they likely wouldn't be directly involved in the process.

However, again depending on the university, the committee may ask different faculty members to review students and I assume newly incoming faculty might be included in the process. And even if the new faculty may not be an official reviewer, the committee may still reach out for their opinion.

So I'd say it won't hurt to include the new professors in the 'faculty of interest' category, but I would not have this be my only choice--just in case that at his university incoming faculty member opinions are not considered.

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