I am currently looking for a PhD-position and I am in touch with a professor already for some weeks. We had two zoom meetings and discussed about possible topics. The official call for the application starts soon. The professor now also said that he helps me writing the research proposal.

Now, within the same research group, there is also another professor, which is doing research in quite some different direction. I also wrote him an email some time ago (before I become in touch with the prof mentioned above) and he said that he has a free position. Now, I would like to ask him for a meeting in order to discuss about possible topics.

Obviously, I can only apply once for the same university, but still I would like to know about all possibilities. Now, my question is the following: Is it "impolite" or "ungratful" to ask the second professor for available topics? I do not want to give the first professor the feeling that I do not like his topic and I am looking for something better, because in fact, I really like his research program. As I say, I just would like to see all possibilites before applying.

1 Answer 1


I think it depends on how you approach the situation. For example, if you talk to the second professor about your "shared research interests" and mention openly that you have also been in touch with the first professor, it is probably all right. Professors from the same research group/department can talk about their applicants- and so better that they hear it from you. Another possibility is that if you like the topics from both professors, you could explore being co-advised (if there is any way to find common ground between the topics, or that one of the professors later serves as a committee member). I think it is very important to pursue what you find the most interesting, but also to communicate openly about your options, and usually professors know (and understand) that at that stage you are exploring your options.

  • 1
    agree with above. Would add that of course they (the professors) would (/should) assume you are scoping out options, as no future is secure in academia.
    – Chloe
    May 9, 2022 at 9:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .