I have applied to an interdisciplinary program in a very top US university. My undergrad is in one of the fields involved. Back in November, I contacted a potential PhD supervisor (sending him my CV). We had a chat over Zoom, and he told me that I "will get offers". He told me has spoken about me to a Prof at my current institution who knows me, and based on my background, we started discussion potential projects and co-supervisors. He encouraged me to chat with one of his current grad students, whose undergrad is on the same field as mine. When I chatted with the PhD student, he was really trying to "sell" me the university. He told me that it was very likely that I will get invited for an interview and get offers. It's now February and:

  • I haven't heard anything from the program
  • In gradcafe, at least 2 students mentioned that they were invited for interviews in December
  • I asked the PhD student if he knows anything, he said he doesn't.

Should I contact the potential supervisor, in case my application was overlooked and he can still do something? (He is not on the main committee of the program, though.) On the other hand, I am afraid of looking impatient or unpolite, and ruining my remaining chances of getting in.

(Note: I am an international student, studying outside the US. Is there any chance that international applications are processed later, or don't get interviews because of timezones?)

  • 2
    Do you have offers from other universities and are waiting to hear from this one before making a decision? It seems like you have nothing to lose by asking them. You can just send a short, polite email asking if there are any updates on your application. Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 12:16
  • Thank you for your answer. I am waiting to hear back from all of the other institutions too
    – mmm
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 12:20
  • In some cases, the department might consider your conversation with the faculty member your “interview” if there were no red flags with your application. In my program, there were generally a couple of applicants who were so strong they skipped the interview phase each year.
    – Dawn
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 2:11

1 Answer 1


From my experiences in an engineering program at a public university, I've heard that domestic applicants are processed first. I don't think it would hurt to follow up with the potential supervisor. I agree with astronat above about sending a polite email to follow up with the potential Ph.D. supervisor. You could also ask this professor when you can expect to hear back from the university.

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