I've received an offer from university A and I'm waiting for a decision from university B (both prestigious).

Would it be sensible to inform university B about my offer from university A and tell them that I would still be interested in their program, or would university B think that I would probably not accept their offer and hence not make me one.

To clarify, I haven't yet decided which university I would choose.

  • What country? . – Azor Ahai -him- Feb 19 at 21:12
  • A is in the UK, B is in the US. – hanoi72 Feb 19 at 21:12
  • US schools will not care about other offers you've received, it wouldn't even make it past the dept secretary. I don't know about the UK. – Azor Ahai -him- Feb 19 at 21:18
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    @AzorAhai-him- This is not true. For top PhD applicants, elite universities will attempt to outbid each other. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 19 at 22:13
  • My advice is: decide what conditions would cause you to choose B. Then say to university B: I have an offer from A. I would really like to come to your university, especially if you can ... then list what you want. If what you want is not reasonable, then don't bother. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 19 at 22:17

We can’t predict the effects of your telling B about the acceptance to A. This can depend on small details, including the precise way you phrase your email to them.

However, broadly speaking, departments try to recruit the best students; have some flexibility to offer better terms to some applicants than to others; and use that flexibility in a strategic manner based on information that they have about the applicants’ situation. The knowledge that you were accepted to A is certainly relevant to that sort of strategizing, and can in theory affect department B’s decision on how attractive of an offer they want to make you. In some situations it could lead to a more generous offer.

  • I interpreted the question as being about admission to a PhD program, not faculty appointment. Do we have different interpretations here? Perhaps the OP will clarify. – Buffy Feb 20 at 11:39
  • @Buffy we have the same interpretation, where did I suggest otherwise? Where I said “offer I’m referring to an offer of admission to a grad program, just like you are. – Dan Romik Feb 20 at 16:37
  • "More generous offer" seems odd to me. Aside from a few fields in the sciences (grant funded positions), most starting doctoral students get the same deal, usually a TA. And I think it is a coin flip whether saying this would help or hurt unless the person has some evidence that they are being actively pursued. The humanities are worse, I suspect. – Buffy Feb 20 at 16:39
  • @Buffy I don’t know what’s odd about what I wrote. There are funded offers, unfunded offers, offers with four years of support, offers with five years of support, etc. For superstar candidates there are various additional perks that may be included. That’s true in mathematics and various other disciplines I’m aware of. So yes, it’s certainly the case that some offers are more generous than others. – Dan Romik Feb 20 at 17:18

You really only need to tell the "other" university when you accept an offer and won't consider another.

The effect of telling B is unknown, but also unnecessary. Don't confuse issues. When you accept an offer, then inform any others out of courtesy.

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