I'm applying for a PhD in the US (I'm from Italy).

I was thinking that maybe I could ask the primary professor of the school I'm applying for to review and give me his opinion about the statement of purpose I'm writing.

I'm afraid though, that in the US academic environment, this could be seen like ethically not fine. In Italy this would not be a problem, but I want to avoid to hit a cultural difference.

Is it something appropriate?

  • Not sure what you mean by "primary". It is definitely okay to ask, but do not be surprised if the professor does not have time to respond. Nov 21 '15 at 17:41
  • Have you already had contact with the professor?
    – user38309
    Nov 21 '15 at 17:43
  • yes. just to ask him suggestions about which program I should apply for. He was very gentle in his response.
    – Bakaburg
    Nov 21 '15 at 18:04

You may not ask for a review which would be very time consuming. See this way, the professor would be receiving numerous applications from all around the globe and you are probably one among many. Think of him getting review requests from all of them (which would be statistically less probable by the way). He would be probably busy with his own research work and its more or less an annoyance if you ask for a review.

Now, if you are called for an interview or a presentation by the selection committee and if that requires preparation of topics specific to your potential advisor's research area, then its perfectly fine to ask him questions or suggestions for improving your presentation. Even here, I do not recommend you to ask for a review rather you may request for suggestions.

In Italy this would not be a problem, but I want to avoid to hit a cultural difference.

I don't think this has anything to do with cultural difference, professors are ought to be equally busy in both of the countries.


Your hunch is correct. It would not be ethical.

However, if you have a mentor in your current institution, you can certainly send this person a link to the primary professor's home page, and your essay, asking for feedback.

But before you do, here's a pretty effective exercise. Imagine that the trusted mentor is reading your essay and jotting down comments in the margin, slashing here, asking for more detail there.

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