This is a follow up question of my previous post.

In short: I had an interview for a PhD position almost 2 months ago. I only heard from them a month later and they said they have not made their final decision yet.

As I am still a master student, they asked when I will finish my degree and whether I can send them my thesis. I finally sent them my thesis a few weeks ago and asked whether they can tell me the final result. They said they will get back to me in a week. But there was no any update.

A week after that, I emailed them again and asked if the final decision is ready. They said they have not come to a conclusion yet, but I am one of their preferred candidates. They asked for an extra week, and after a week, unfortunately there is no response.

It's been about 2 months now that I have been waiting a response from them. I feel like I sent them the same email too many times asking whether they have made their final decision and every time I got a response that they have not.

Since it is a long time to decide, I have a feeling that they are in contact with the most preferred candidate and they are not telling me a decision because perhaps they want to make sure the other candidates are still in line in case the best candidate reject the offer. But this would mean that they are not telling me the truth, which I don't believe (and hope) is a common thing in academia.

What would be the reason that they cannot give me an answer? Why would 2 months not be enough to make a decision? And is it possible that they are not being honest with me (and have chosen their favorite candidate)? Should I just forget about this position?

It is very important for me to know the result because I have other things (which are affected by this) to do. But I also do not want to send them the same email over and over again.

P.S: There is not any underlying funding and other problems that could cause delays.

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    "I am one of their preferred candidates" is not the same as "I am the most preferred candidate". So they can say that your are one of the preferred candidates and start negotiating with their most preferred candidate without lying. Aug 6, 2021 at 11:09
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    If they keep you hanging (rather than say "no"), they likely have not made up their mind yet. (I think if they know that they don't have a position for you, a "no" would be common courtesy). Nonetheless, you are most likely not the primary candidate, so better to look somewhere else. Aug 6, 2021 at 11:10
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    What country? . Aug 6, 2021 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Either they have a more preferred candidate than you or they are uncertain about funding (despite what you say about it) and are still unsure whether the position actually exists.

In either case, it's fine to keep contact with them and find out what happens if you are interested in the spot, but you should not count on it.

You should be making other plans and pursuing other opportunities while you wait. You are not beholden to this position. They have not given you an offer which you have accepted, so you can take an offer anywhere else.

I don't think they are lying to you, but they haven't told you or signalled anything more positive than (paraphrasing) "it is possible but unlikely we will offer you a position". I see no reason to be more optimistic than this.

If you have other offers but are waiting for this one, you could tell them this and give a deadline. Maybe this will make them simply say "sorry, we can't offer you the position by then" but then you will know where you stand.

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