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One supervisor of a university accepted me as a student and ensured me funding. I accepted this offer.

Is it ok to still contact and seek funding from supervisors of other universities?

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    The edit message says: "clarification from comments." And indeed, this information was provided in the comments, edited into the main post, and then the obsolete comments were deleted.
    – cag51
    Apr 25, 2023 at 0:19

3 Answers 3

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If you have accepted an offer then you should honor it, but until you do you are free to talk to others.

Even after accepting, if you get a better offer it is good to discuss the earlier one with the original person to back out. And "better" can be hard to analyze as it depends on your values. It isn't just money.

Ethically, however, you should honor any agreements you make.

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  • Ok, thanks for your response. Apr 24, 2023 at 21:25
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If you accepted the offer, you are bound by it. There are several risks in continuing to talk with other potential advisors:

  1. You don't know if the professor with whom you have an agreement made a difficult decision between you and another applicant that was almost as qualified as you. Say you get a better offer and come back to negotiate better terms (e.g. you want an RA instead of TA first semester, etc.), the professor might just give your spot to the other candidate. I know I would. If the second offer fails to materialize, you'll be left holding an empty bag.

  2. It sets a really bad tone to start a 4 to 5-year professional relationship with your advisor by breaking your word, ie accepting an offer when you are still shopping around.

None of this is to say that you can't or shouldn't negotiate terms, or try to get in to the best program you can. It's that the time to negotiate is before you accept the offer.

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I agree with the answers above that the the time to shop around and/or negotiate is before you accept an offer.

Ask yourself WHY you are (or would consider) still contacting other places (which sounds like the start of a search, not a concrete offer that is pending)? Do you have any doubts about the position you accepted? If so, talk to the supervisor whose offer you accepted and discuss your doubts about their specific offer.

If you are searching just to see what else is out there and you consider jumping ship once something better comes along, that will not reflect well on you - as stated by other answers.

By the way, it's not clear whether you are talking about a PhD or a different position. If it's a PhD, then it is important that you are all in from the start. Both you and your future supervisor will put in a lot of time (multiple years of both your lives), effort and energy (and in the case of your supervisor: funding) into your training and research, so this will only work if both parties are committed.

If we're talking about an MSc or BSc internship then the dual commitment still holds, but it will have less of an impact on your life and future career as we're talking about months - so ideally you would just stick to the agreement and take the position - but only if you are sure that you will give it your 100%. If not, then my advice would be to still decline the offer - but do so quickly and gracefully before you start as others may take your place in this person's lab.

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