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I finished my master in computer science about 2 years ago... And I just started to apply for PhD... I have received a prompt reply to one of my email and I really don't know what should I do!? here is the response :

"Dear Ali,

It is impossible for me to know over a year in advance whether I will take any students for Fall 2016. Your CV looks interesting and I encourage you to apply to the program so you are eligible for any potential openings."

I asked for admission on fall 2016 but maybe I could ask for winter 2015 too...

Should I ask for funding now or after applying? How should I reply him?

  • Where are you located? Can you find out what the usual procedures at your place is? Do prospective PhD candidates usually acquire their own funding, or do they apply for positions for which someone else has secured funding beforehand? Answers might vary considerably based on this information. – O. R. Mapper Aug 27 '15 at 13:00
  • What about Canadian universities? – Ali Aug 27 '15 at 14:49
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Your question really contains two parts: about funding and about what to do with the email. @vonbrand already answered the funding part, so I will answer the other half:

This is really a rather common reply. If you apply for the fall 2016, you will likely take courses for the first year, so you're looking for someone who may start to be your adviser in the fall 2017 -- two years from now. I have no idea how my funding situation will look like that far out, nor whether I will gain or lose any graduate students until then. In other words, I cannot promise that (i) I will be able to support anyone financially this far out, (ii) I will have the mental and time capacity to accept more graduate students this far out. At least in the US (and likely in Canada), you can't generally expect to have an adviser lined up before you even apply to a graduate program -- you have to apply and accept admission to a department in the hope that when you need one, an adviser will materialize.

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The issue of funding is clearly vital to you (and I dare say all prospective graduate students), so the school can't take exception on you asking for details on the matter. In fact, you should ask them for alternatives that might be available, and (if needed) where, how and when to apply for that.

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(I can only speak to the system in the U.S.) In the old days, you read the catalog. Nowadays, you read the department website. It will probably tell you at least 95% of what you need to know about how and when to apply for admission and funding. It will have a contact email to use for the remaining 5%.

Good luck!

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