Note: I saw this link, however I'm hoping to get wider range of opinions to help me make my decisions.

Problem statement: I sent an enquiry email to professor A of faculty X at university Y. Today, I saw another PhD offer posted on the web for another PhD position with professor B of same faculty X at same university Y.

Questions: Is it ethical to send enquiry email to professor B? Should I mention that I've sent an enquiry email to professor A earlier?

3 Answers 3


Yes, it's ethical. Everyone applies to multiple positions. Everyone knows this. At least this is my impression from the US. You don't say which country, so it's unclear who might be funding your position if you're eventually accepted. It's also unclear if you apply to the university, department, or professor directly. This might have some slight influence on whether you tell A and B about your cross applications. If they are going to be meeting together in committee to decide about applications, it might be better if everyone knows that you've applied to work with two different professors but really only once to the university. If each professor has sole discretion as to whom they hire, and only they see the application, then it probably doesn't matter.

  • Dear Bill Barth I'm applying to a university in Europe, Switzerland.
    – Alireza
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 18:53
  • Is it also reasonable? If I mention that I've sent an email to the first professor A. How would affect my application with professor B?
    – Alireza
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 19:10
  • 3
    @Alireza As Bill Barth implies, there should be no harm in telling the first professor that you've also applied for another position in the department. It's really just a courtesy so that paperwork doesn't get doubled up, and no one gets any surprises. If it comes to the interview stage, and you're travelling for an in-person interview, it will be a lot easier to schedule the interviews if both professors knew about this from the start, rather than having to say "oh, sorry if you didn't know already but I'm actually interviewing with Professor A on April 1st – are you free then?"
    – Moriarty
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 19:27

At my university you can only apply to two programs at the same time using the same application if they have a joint program already in place.

Otherwise, it is physically impossible. You can only file only one application to the university in any given year.

  • 2
    I believe you, but that policy is surprising and may be unusual. While reading another recent question about application fees, I looked up the case at my own university. In fact they give a discount for applications to multiple departments: see grad.uga.edu/index.php/prospective-students/…. Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 17:06
  • 1
    My university also allows simultaneous applications to any number of graduate programs, as long as you separately pay the application fee for each program.
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 17:25

Ethical and reasonable might be, but smart it is not. You will come across as someone who is "fishing" for an angle, rather than someone who is focused and understands the priorities of the department...

  • 2
    I disagree with the implication that this is an absolute fact. My own experience tells me: YMMV! I openly expressed interest in two different positions with different supervisors, had a simultaneous interview, and ended up with both offers. Remember that this is for a PhD position, not a postdoc: it's very likely that a candidate is equally qualified for (and interested in) more than one position. It's only fishing if you really are just fishing.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 19:17

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