I heard back from a potential PhD advisor from University ABC saying that I am accepted into their program and he also stuck his neck out for me for getting a fellowship as well. I am still waiting for results from the other universities (some of which I might choose over University ABC).

His tone from the mail was very happy and I feel I must reply back to him in a nice way. Is just saying "Thank you very much for your support and the great news!" enough?

Edit: I do not want to be too enthusiastic as I might have to turn down this offer based on the results from other universities and I am afraid it might come off as me leading him on when I might not even accept the position.

  • Welcome to Academia.SE and Congratulations on your results. However, I voted to close this question because it is vague. You either want to accept a program or not. Not being honest about your decision will be problematic. Postponing accepting a result for making a decision on another program, this is another story. I do not find this constructive.
    – enthu
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:42
  • > Postponing accepting a result for making a decision on another program, this is another story. This is exactly my story.
    – S P Sharan
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:56
  • 2
    @enthu I do not believe that honesty is being debated here. The OP should be honest that they are excited about being accepted, and they should not (and do not need to) say anything about whether they're accepting now. In my field (poli sci) in the US, programs understand that students apply to multiple programs, wait to hear back from other programs, and then choose one and decline the others. Telling a potential advisor that they're excited to be admitted to one program doesn't provide a guarantee that they'll accept after hearing from other programs. Jan 19, 2022 at 17:09
  • @Dr.Beeblebrox good information and sounds convincing to me. You correctly separated the points of being interested in a program and the right to hold an offer to compare all the options. Retracted my closure vote. Thank you.
    – enthu
    Jan 19, 2022 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


Firstly, a huge congratulations on your acceptance. That's wonderful news. As a faculty member, I can say that I don't think you need to worry about being too enthusiastic. I would encourage you to say a bit more in your response and let them know that you are very excited. Also, don't worry too much about the content of this email, you're in! For the time being just enjoy it, and when you begin a program, focus on doing great work (and remaining enthusiastic hopefully)!

Edit based on your edit: I would not temper your enthusiasm because you might go to another university. That's a given in any PhD admissions process that all advisors are aware of.


Rather than tempering your enthusiasm, I'd add to your message (after all the enthusiasm and thanks/appreciation is shared) that you plan to compare offers and respond with a decision once you've gotten responses from your other applications. If you know a date that you'll have those other responses by you can include that date, if not it's fine to be generic (and anyone should understand that a student applying for grad school does not control the timeline of other schools). You could ask if there is a deadline to respond if this isn't already clear.

It's possible this will sadden the professor a bit if they're very excited to have you, but frankly, they have no ownership over you no matter how much they've "stuck their neck out". You owe them an appreciation for their efforts, not to deny all other offers. Most likely they will understand this; if they are the kind of person who is deeply offended by this, though, I would urge you that you do not want this kind of person as a supervisor if you can avoid it. Therefore, you do not need to worry about their reaction too much; if they have a normal person reaction, they will completely understand that any applicant should consider all their options before making a decision. If they react badly, well, you now have dodged a situation that would only get harder and harder to get out of if you found out later in your studies what kind of person this professor is.

A final caution would be that at least where I am from in the US, official offers need to come from the institution, not the individual professor. An individual professor may very well have strong sway, but you need to have an official institutional offer in hand before you accept it and reject any others. It's possible things work differently if you are applying elsewhere and I can't speak to that.

  • Thank you very much for your awesome advice - my head feels much clearer now. And as for your word of caution, yes it is from a US university and the professor added on in his mail that I should most likely expect an official acceptance letter from the institution in the coming weeks.
    – S P Sharan
    Jan 19, 2022 at 19:20

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