As an undergraduate in the admissions process for a PhD program, should I disclose my status as a finalist for a separate and prestigious fellowship that would fund a Master's program? (I have already completed my applications, so any disclosure would occur after having been made an offer by a PhD program.)

If so, when is the appropriate and responsible time to disclose this information?

Importantly, if I were to receive the MA fellowship, I would certainly accept due to its prestige.

My concerns are twofold:

1) I do not wish to lessen my bargaining power by disclosing this information too early in the admissions process (i.e. during negotiations over PhD funding or prior to an official offer).

2) I do not wish to provoke the ire of admissions boards and department faculties by withholding this information until too far into the admissions process. Particularly because I intend to complete my PhD after the MA program, should I happen to be awarded the fellowship.

In terms of a timeline, notification for MA fellowship recipients will be made between March and late April. Most PhD programs expect a decision notification in April.

  • To my knowledge, PhD students have little or no leverage negotiating funding. Having external funding would save them money, so that would only increase your chances.
    – Davidmh
    Feb 10, 2015 at 8:29
  • @Davidmh While admittedly PhD students have little leverage other than (in some cases) competing offers, nearly every resource for prospective graduate students I have read suggests appealing funding amounts if necessary. Additionally, in this case the external funding is not towards the PhD, but rather towards a non-affiliated MA program.
    – Noktasizi
    Feb 10, 2015 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


If we're talking about a program such as a Marshall or Fulbright scholarship, such awards are usually considered sufficient grounds to postpone enrollment while the fellowship is being pursued.

On the other hand, I wouldn't raise this possibility until it becomes an actual issue. You're introducing unnecessary obstacles in the admissions process that way. If an offer comes along from a school or one of these fellowships, you can deal with it then

  • The program is indeed one of the Marshall/Fulbright/Rhodes tier, so your answer is quite useful. That these programs are typically considered grounds for deferral is especially helpful. Thank you!
    – Noktasizi
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:30

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