A few days back I emailed a potential supervisor in one of the Top schools in Computer Science. To my surprise I got an instant reply from him mentioning that I should apply and he has funding for research assistants like me. He also mentioned a few questions about research topics so to follow up I sent him the answer and asked his opinion. However I didn't hear from him after that. Here I would like to mention that questions were not to test me but just general research questions which he is interested in, and my reply was also more like a discussion and asking his opinion. Now I am confused what I can get from this, and also should I ask him somehow to have Skype interview? He is really a great professor and has his own funding so may be he can even effect committee decision.


  • 1
    If it was a few days ago you sent him an e-mail I should wait a bit more, he probably has a busy schedule.
    – agold
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 7:49
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    Professors have a habit of forgetting about emails. If you don't hear back from him in a week, it wouldn't be rude to send one follow-up email.
    – Ric
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 16:56
  • @Ric - Very well put. Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 23:57
  • Please specify the country or the part of the world. We can't give a good answer without that. Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 0:00
  • As I mentioned in my comment below, university is in USA and one of top in area of Computer Science. One more thing to add here is that I send him 4-5 lines of proposal in my first email for which he instantly replied that he have funding for research as I outline.. Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 11:54

2 Answers 2


The professor encouraged you to apply --- so that's what he expects you to do next. It is nothing wrong in your attempt to establish a more substantial connection with him and to promote yourself in his eyes, it increases your chances to get selected. However, imagine that at the same time there are probably 100+ other candidates, trying to do exactly the same --- sending him several smart research questions, involving him in some discussion, and expecting to chat over Skype with him in a few days. How would you feel in his shoes?

Of course, professors want to be available for their potential PhD students, TAs and colleagues, and of course, they want to participate in the selection process. But many of them do not want to carry out all the communication themselves --- that's what secretariat, admissions, and HRs are for! I assume there is a formal route to submit your application, and I suggest exactly what your professor suggested --- prepare your application and submit as instructed.

If in a meantime you receive a message from him --- go forth and suggest a Skype meeting. If not --- assume that the professor is busy, and submit your application before the deadline anyway.

  • Thanks for reply but what I am thinking is the level of interest he have in my work do I have higher chance ? Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 8:18
  • You can put this in the Cover Letter, or/and in the Research Statement as a part of your application. If you application is shortlisted (i.e. you satisfy the essential criteria), the professor will read it. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 8:32
  • @muhammad: Depending on how the department handles admissions, the professor may not have that large an influence on whether you get in, and may not want to raise your expectations or may not want to spend a lot of time talking to you before you are accepted. Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 16:18
  • @muhammadharis - This depends on the country. (In the US the answer in general is no, this doesn't raise your chances.) Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 23:59

I am in my first year of a PhD and I went through similar experience while I was searching for a PhD position. Since you have mentioned your potential supervisor is from a top institute, he sure will receive numerous applications all over the globe. Since he had replied positively and told you he have funds for the position makes you an eligible candidate but bear in mind that you are one among many.

However I didn't hear from him after that.

You mentioned you have applied a few days back. It is normal for the reply to take a few weeks. I am sure the professor would be using the same approach to other students who had applied. I went through one such process in Germany, the potential supervisor asked me to answer some questions which is not very specific to his field of research. After my reply, he invited me for a skype conference. Consider the questions as a preliminary screening test.

You haven't mentioned if the position is advertised or not. If it does the selection involves a several steps, may be two or three rounds of interviews. I got the reply after two weeks inviting me for a skype interview. I suggest you to wait a few more days.

  • No position is not advertised and university is in USA .. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 12:04

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