Recently I contacted a research professor at a major US university about being his student. After some days, I emailed the head of the school asking if research professors are allowed to supervise students, he replied no. Today I received a message from this research professor telling me that I need to send him CV and research statement, but why is that?

  • 4
    An answer to this will depend hugely on what "research professor" means, in your context. In the U.S., in many universities, being allowed to supervise grad students is "granted" as a separate thing from actual research work/function, and may be granted prior to tenure (for people on tenure track), but/and not to postdocs, for example. It's as much bureaucratic as it is scientific/intellectual. You should try to get some clarification... Oct 19 at 23:19
  • 3
    Seems like a question only this research professor can answer. The only options are: (1) he misunderstood your request, (2) the department head misunderstood your question, or (3) he is a jerk who likes wasting your time by having you submit pointless research statements...
    – cag51
    Oct 20 at 2:22
  • 5
    @cag51 Or (4), the research professor isn't officially allowed to supervise students, but has ways around that, for example by having another professor take that role while remaining a/the de facto advisor/mentor. Yes, getting clarification from the people or institution involved seems like the best path forward.
    – Anyon
    Oct 20 at 3:14

Normally in the US graduate admissions is up to a committee of the department, not to an individual professor. You need to be admitted before such conversations with a professor are meaningful. Perhaps the head of school just meant that it isn't in the professor's power to accept you and you need to apply normally.

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