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Recently, I started sending cold mails to profs for upcoming PhD applications. Two of them replied instantly right after my mail:

Thank you for contacting me, I am planning taking graduate students and I have these two xx and yy projects fits your background very well. I strongly encourage you to apply our program and you can write my name as your choice of PI.

I definetly know that doesn't mean I am already accepted or anything, but at least really encouraged me since now I feel like I have a better chance for admission than I thought at the beginning.

Problem is, they haven't asked for an interview or anyhing. One of them even asked me to apply for his theorist collaborators too (I'm working experimental and it's on my CV) to make sure I have a better chance for admission. I replied them both that it would be great to work under their investigation and projects they offer are the best topics I could wish for. (That's not a lie actually, both them are quite on point by my side.)

Now I really feel that something is missing. Should I take any action afterwards? I'm open for all kinds of advice.

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  • 6
    What country is this for?
    – Buffy
    Oct 18 at 22:18
  • 2
    In many places, the system is that applications are reviewed by a committee of department faculty, not only by the PI. An interview may or may not be part of the process at all. Oct 19 at 1:23
  • 7
    I don't understand what you want to know. They encouraged you to apply. Oct 19 at 2:46
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" Thank you for contacting me, I am planning taking graduate students and I have these two xx and yy projects fits your background very well. I strongly encourage you to apply our program and you can write my name as your choice of PI."

As the professor's response indicates, the next action for you is to apply for the Ph.D. program and name this professor as your choice of PI. If there's no place on the application form to do that, then put it in your Statement of Purpose.

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  • 1
    This is country dependent. Field dependent in some places also.
    – Buffy
    Oct 19 at 12:07
  • 5
    Certainly, but the professors themselves have told the OP what to do next.
    – shoover
    Oct 19 at 18:14
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PI's have a limited amount of influence, in many cases, in the application process or acceptance decisions. The action they're suggesting you take is to actually apply for admission to the graduate programs at their schools. Aside from hiring you into a role that has nothing to do with your being a student, this is really all that they can do.

If you apply, should you get in, you will likely be subject to all the same factors involved in any graduate student being accepted into any lab. They don't owe you a slot in their lab, though they may be well predisposed to bringing in a student whose research interests align with theirs.

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    PI's have a limited amount of influence, in many cases - Even when I'm on the admissions committee and I get emails like this, if I give an encouraging reply doesn't mean I will push for admission. I need to look at the complete application, and compare with other applicants that year, before deciding on my rankings.
    – Kimball
    Oct 19 at 19:13

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