As I browse the Internet, I observe that a U.S. phd program may send its offers to the applicants at different time points.

However, does this difference imply the difference in favor? I mean, does getting an offer earlier imply getting a better offer?

  • What country? It makes a difference, although there can be differences even within universities, let alone between nations.
    – Dɑvïd
    Feb 17, 2015 at 16:54
  • No. It just means they're interested, it has nothing to do with the quality of the offer.
    – Mast
    Feb 18, 2015 at 2:09

3 Answers 3


I'll assume you are talking about a department that admits students via a single admissions committee (rather than offers from individual professors or groups, in which case all bets are off regarding the timing).

As a general rule, getting an offer earlier is a sign that the committee is more interested, but that doesn't mean the actual offer will be better in any concrete sense. Often there will be a first wave of offers, which may be followed by additional offers depending on how many people seem likely to accept. Sometimes the further offers are explicitly described as a waiting list, but sometimes the only distinguishing factor is that they come later in time.


Probably not. My institution has different sources of phd funding - for instance, from national bodies, overseas collaborations and agreements, internal scholarships in order to promote different initiatives (for instance we might have an agreement to fund 5 scholarships for students from Asia) etc. In addition, research projects might have PhD scholarships attached and these happen all the time. Therefore, we recruit new PhDs throughout the academic year. (and occasionally have new PhDs start outside of the standard start of the academic year)


In general, most graduate departments have "flat" offerings to their incoming graduate students—everybody gets essentially the same level of financial support. There may be some differences based on the students' abilities to secure their own funding (for instance, a "bonus" or "premium" if they bring in an external fellowship).

Now there are some cases where graduate students have special fellowships for outstanding graduate students, but these are often highly competitive and require an additional round of review before the awards are made. However, the one example I am aware of announced the decisions at the same time as the admissions decision itself. So, unless you've been told at the time of admission that something like this might be possible, I would assume that your offer is going to be essentially the same as all other graduate students coming in. The school likely just wants to move quickly to get a better chance at retaining students it thinks are especially qualified.

  • In my department also, we can sometimes arrange fellowship awards for special candidates, and as I recall, we can inform these candidates around the time of their admission offers. Unfortunately, these awards are rather small, and this+standard offer is still less than many other departments' standard offers.
    – Kimball
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:05
  • In my application process, I have seen or heard about several schools using "small fellowships" as additional incentives for their top students. Usually an additional payment for their first year on the order of $3-5k.
    – Roger Fan
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .