I have recently contacted a professor in a reputable university in the hopes of discussing our common research interests and to apply for PhD under his supervision, and he just replied that he is not going to take anybody for the next year. What should I do now? Is there a reason why I should still apply to this university assuming there are no other professors who share my research interests?

I adopted the suggestions in (How much detail to include in first email to potential PhD supervisor?) when I reached out to the potential adviser.

More info about the department: When I contacted the department's graduate office showing my interest part of their reply was:

If there is a particular professor you wish to work with, you may wish to contact him/her prior to applying and discuss your application further with them.

  • 4
    If the department is good, yes, I would apply. Something to think about - really, how well do you know what research will interest you? Many people here seem very definite about what interests them, but frankly you have not seen enough at a deep enough level to really know. Maybe I'm weird, but lots of things interest me, and the more I look the more things look interesting. And that is after 30+ years doing research.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 2, 2015 at 19:35
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    @JonCuster as far as I understand, a department will not offer acceptance if there is no one to supervise you and since all the research experience I have is focused in one topic therefore I am trying to match my interests with potential advisers to increase my chances of acceptance. So in my case "research interest" is the only research that I have experience doing.
    – The Hiary
    Nov 2, 2015 at 19:43
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    Some departments accept PhD students that are later distributed amongst professors; some require some period of study before you are assigned one; others don't. Do you know the specifics of your case?
    – Davidmh
    Nov 2, 2015 at 20:29
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    And all departments are quite used to accepting people that don't align immediately and directly with their research - if you are good, interested broadly in the field, with demonstrated success in one area, than you should be rated pretty well. What you have seen so far is barely scratching the surface of any field.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 2, 2015 at 20:56
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    @JonCuster This really varies on a field-by-field basis. If you are in certain fields, you'll have no choice but to interview at such institutions. See the discussion at academia.stackexchange.com/questions/42546/…
    – Corvus
    Nov 3, 2015 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


You may have answered your own question in the comment above, I fear.

In many disciplines, as you say,

a department will not offer acceptance if there is no one to supervise you

In those disciplines, offers tend to me made only if a particular faculty member advocates for a student. If the faculty member you would like to work with is not taking students, it seems unlikely that you would be admitted. So if yours is one of those disciplines, save your money.

For further discussion, see this question.

  • Downvoter, could you let me know the reason? What I've written here is well-known fact, whether or not you like it that the world works that way.
    – Corvus
    Nov 3, 2015 at 2:22

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