I have contacted a professor (in Germany) to ask if he would take me as a PhD student.

I have written to him a follow up email 7 days after the first contact, and now it's two weeks with no answer.

Is it appropriate or advised to make a phone call to the administrative office of the chair, and understand whether the professor is out of office due to e.g. holiday?

This way I would know if and when to try the third email.


3 Answers 3


I live in Germany half the year, and I can attest that these guys take their holiday time seriously. It's common for people to take a full month, even two months of vacation, and to them no email during holidays means no email. And we are straight in the middle of summer holiday season. So by all means contact the secretary, but be aware that he/she might be taking their own holiday.


Yes, it is fine to contact the office, such as the department secretary. You may or may not get the information you need, of course.

However, if you were responding to a call and it had a date for submission, then you might not get any communication from the professor until that date passes. They have other things to do, including, as you note, vacations. A few weeks at this season is probably quite short.

I wouldn't, however, contact the professor again for a while, unless you have some actual need to know, such as another pending deadline.


In general, I would not expect answers in July and August and only follow up after. Part of the summer people can be expected to be out on holidays, for the other half they are away at conferences, wrapping up the prior academic year or preparing for the next, or finally focusing on some core tasks like writing grants and papers after the teaching is done.

In either case, cold e-mails are likely to be less of a priority to respond with during that time.

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