So it is the season where PhD offers are doled out (for US universities anyway). I am lucky enough to have received a number of offers via email. These typically comprise of a polite email from a member of faculty, normally the director of postgraduate study (or similar), along with an offer letter attached.

My question is, are replies to these emails expected? I felt compelled to respond with a quick thank you - I wish I could have asked some insightful question about the program but I couldn't reliably find something to ask.

How should one respond to these offers? What about schools that I will not likely attend as I was offered a school I prefer - should I decline at this stage?

  • 7
    If you know you are not going to accept an offer, please, do tell them as soon as possible, so they can pass it on to the next person on the waiting list.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 12:12
  • To piggyback, all of the rejection email suggestions I've seen include a "I have chosen X instead" or similar line. Is there a polite way to let them know that their school is not in consideration even though I haven't yet made a final decision?
    – Roger Fan
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


If you already know, for sure, which school you are going; simply respond to others by thanking them and telling them that you already chose your school. Something like the following:

Dear Sir/Madam, 

Thanks for the offer. However, after extensive consideration, I chose the university X for my Ph.D. 

Kind Regards, 

Your Name
  • 3
    'Loads of consideration' is quite informal; 'considerable' or 'extensive' consideration would be more appropriate.
    – JNS
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 12:24

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