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I have applied to some US and European universities, which all have somewhat different acceptance timelines. I was offered a graduate student position with certain funding at a US university. There is a deadline by which I have to either accept or decline the offered position. The deadline is near, so I have to make a decision quickly. I'm inclined to accept the offer, but what happens if my circumstances change (such as if another university offers me a place after this deadline) and I'm not able to come? On the one hand, I don't want to look bad in such a scenario; on the other hand, if a better opportunity comes along, I wouldn't want to lose it. I understand that I could request to extend the response deadline, but the acceptance deadlines in some European universities may still go a little beyond that.

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If you accept an offer and then receive a better one, write to the first university with your apologies, and accept the other offer. This isn't ideal, of course; you are breaking an agreement. But:

  • They undoubtedly have a wait list, which they'll use, so it's not like they will have a free slot.
  • Nobody wants an unhappy graduate student.

That said, tell them as soon as possible to make it more convenient for them.

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  • "may" have perhaps, I know plenty of departments that don't keep a waiting list, although they tend to be well-ranked. Mar 28, 2022 at 1:32
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    @AzorAhai-him- truly? Can you explain how that works? Do they get 100% yield (i.e. everyone who is offered a position accepts)?
    – Allure
    Mar 28, 2022 at 2:27
  • I'm not sure what there is to explain. And no. My department shoots for a bit less than 50% yield. Mar 28, 2022 at 3:54

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