In some countries, it is required for students to contact a professor and find an advisor before they start their application for that university. I have heard from some of my friends who are studying PhD that if a professor is eager to advise a student who has contacted him (because of his outstanding vita, publication, etc.), he will help that student to find a good scholarship or even offers some scholarships from funding providers he knows (maybe from industry, research institutes, etc.).

I am asking this because after I heard this comment, I feel that if a professor does not show support for scholarships, or if he says in emails

I will be happy to advise you on your PhD, please go to admissions webpage, also visit scholarships webpage and apply for one you are eligible for receiving.

it means that this professor is not strongly interested in advising me.

I mean, if the professor really wanted to have me in his research group as a PhD student, he would try to help me finding scholarships. If he is not helping and is not talking about it, he is not really interested in having me as a PhD student. He believes that I am not a strong student and I will not find any scholarships. So, this is a way to politely and automatically reject a PhD student. Is this really true?

  • 1
    Just a note: I understand what you meant, but "PhD candidate" usually means a PhD student that has passed some sort of mid-way exams. I can't think of a better word, though.
    – Davidmh
    Oct 7, 2014 at 17:25
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    @Davidmh Prospective PhD student? PhD Prospect?
    – Compass
    Oct 7, 2014 at 17:36
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    Related: Implications of being accepted without funding?
    – ff524
    Oct 7, 2014 at 17:51
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    What country is this professor in? What field? Funding practices differ widely among both. Oct 7, 2014 at 21:02
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    I don't think there can be a yes or no answer to this question. It has been my experience that it's up to the student to secure funding rather than the advisor holding the student's hand throughout the process. However, it's also been my experience that in applied sciences there is usually research funding available for PhD students and thus scholarships are not needed. Oct 8, 2014 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


It could be, as is usually the case in the UK, that the Professor has no direct influence on the awarding of scholarship money. It would, therefore, be irresponsible of him to mislead you about your chances of obtaining funding. I certainly wouldn't take it as a sign that he doesn't wish to supervise you.


That could be the reason, but I can think of a few alternatives.

  • He may have a deadline for a paper next week, or has heavy teaching, or any other very time consuming task.
  • He hasn't had a new PhD student lately, so he is not really updated in the funding sources available.
  • You know your eligibility much more than he does. For example, you might state in your CV that your were born in Colombia, so he knows you have that nationality, but you may also have a Spanish passport, and thus be eligible for funding for EU citizens.

I would guess that these applications require you to submit some sort of research plan; that should be done with your future supervisor. Once you found a suitable funding possibility, ask for help to write the proposal.


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