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About a week ago, I went to submit the application for the mathematics PhD program at one of my top choice schools. The form told me I had missed the deadline, which was December 15th. I had January 5th written down on my list of application information, but when I looked it was indeed Dec. 15 on the department website.

I distinctly remembered seeing Jan. 5th, however, so I looked it up again and found the website for general graduate admissions where I found the deadline to begin with. It said/says January 5th, and is even program specific (under the "PhD in Mathematics"). So I emailed my application to the mathematics department graduate admissions email address explaining there was an incorrect deadline on another part of the website, provided a link, and requested that I still be considered.

I should note that this is a big school which will probably get a lot of applications, so hopefully they haven't gotten far through review yet. Also, everything except my personal statement was on the website before the Dec 15 deadline, but of course the submit button was not hit so I don't know if this helps.

I haven't heard back from them aside from an automated "we'll get to this eventually" email, and it has been about 7 days now. I think I have a strong application for this school in particular and really don't want to lose my chance to apply. What do I do? Should I try to call the math department? Submit it to a different email? Or am I just boned?

Update: I called the department's admissions office and was vigorously informed that they refuse to consider my application under any circumstances and that they "didn't care what my excuse was." The prof I was corresponding with talked to somebody and I guess they're going to fix that part of the website. Doesn't do me any good, but it's nice to know. I would up getting into (and completing) a PhD program somewhere else.

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3 Answers 3

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I would try and personally contact someone at the school, like @gerrit commented, call them. Try and explain your situation, and say that you hope you will still be considered for the program. Do mention that it was not that you simply forgot the deadline, but that an official document stated the wrong date and include this piece of evidence. Stress that you are very enthusiastic about the program, and that you would be disappointed if this communication error would prevent you from having a chance to enter the program.

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Sorry to disappoint you but Dec 15 to Jan 5 is a long time in the graduate admissions process. We (in neuroscience) try to read and short list (hundreds of) applications within a week of the application deadline so that we can send out invitations for 2nd round interviews, which generally take place at the end of January.

It is pretty bad that they had conflicting information on their site. I think the "call them" advice is good. But it would be even better if one of your letter writers knows someone personally at that school and can intervene on your behalf.

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    OP has already been disappointed in 2013, 10 years later I think he is ok with the outcome ...
    – EarlGrey
    Jan 18, 2023 at 15:33
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    I ended up getting into (and completing) a different PhD program. Still think they should have let me apply, but hey, their loss. Jan 18, 2023 at 17:17
  • You do two rounds of interviews? Jan 18, 2023 at 23:26
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    @EarlGrey that's hilarious - I didn't notice how old this question was... somehow it popped up as hot network questions.
    – jerlich
    Jan 19, 2023 at 11:39
  • @AzorAhai-him-Typically most departments in my field select a list of candidates for interviews from the applications, and those candidates are invited for interviews. However, we have been discussing a 2 round interview process, with the first one remote and a smaller pool invited for in person interviews/recruitment.
    – jerlich
    Jan 19, 2023 at 11:41
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I probably would have explained this to one of your recommendation letter writers to see if they could write to someone in the department.

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