I was considering writing Emails to professors in US universities regarding PhD opportunities at their departments, however I noticed there is a formal PhD application with deadlines in December to follow. So what is the point in contacting professors for placements in their team when there is already an application process similar to undergraduate programmes? Thank you
In many departments, when it comes to accepting students, it's good to have a professor put their hand up and say that they would want to work with you and put you on their funding. By the time it gets to accepting students, because there are so many good applicants, the pool has become mostly indistinguishable. Having someone advocating for you at these meetings can make all the difference in the world.
From my experience, it depends on the type of school that you want to go to. If you are attending a physical school in person they tend to follow the traditional schedule and have deadlines. However, online universities (of which there are many), often have less stringent application deadlines, or they accept applications all year long.