I was wondering if someone who is reapplying to the same program after it was not accepted the previous year is seen as a negative thing.

If in the application form I am asked if I applied the program in the past, should I state that I did or would that look bad on my application?

Why is this question been asked? And does not really matter what my answer is? The university clearly states that all application material is destroyed after a few months. Thus the admission commitee look at this question?

  • 3
    Applying a second time shows that you are determined to become a phd student and do not give up at first hurdle... Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


Lying on an application form is a really bad idea, it would probably destroy any chance you could have to be accepted. So, if the question is asked, you probably should answer truthfully.

As for why it is asked, it also depends on how a program works. If it's a very competitive program, maybe your application was good, but there were just better candidates than you. In that case, it could be worth applying again. If, on the other hand, the committee just decided that your application was not good enough, then applying again is risky. In any case, you would have to demonstrate that you have significantly improved your application during the last year.

  • Unfortunately there is no way of knowing how the application was rated last year. Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 19:06
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    In that case, it's probably safer to assume the worst, in which case you really have to demonstrate how you've improved.
    – user102
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 19:23
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    In some cases, lying on an application can also get you kicked out if it's discovered after the fact.
    – aeismail
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 22:37

EMBL explicitly tells people who haven’t been accepted in the first go (but who passed the initial aptitude assessment) to apply again next year.

They do keep record of your application so lying about it would be very stupid, but re-applying definitely doesn’t harm your chances a priori. In fact, at EMBL you wouldn’t even need to re-take the assessment.

Certainly this is a quite institute specific answer but I’d think that it’s a good rule of thumb. Even if your particular University handles this differently (destroy application material), chances are, somebody will remember you.

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