I was offered admission into a graduate physics program in February. I was given 21 days within which to accept the offer and pay the admission deposit.

Now I was sent an email from the program offering me a prestigious university scholarship to motivate me to accept the offer of admission. I had not yet received any other offer of admission, so out of desperation, I accepted the offer of admission and paid the admission deposit.

Now, if I am offered admission into any of the upper grade universities I applied to, I will write to the graduate program director from the former program and politely mention that I cannot enroll in their program because the upper grade university is a better fit for me.

Will this cause a serious problem for me, i.e., in terms of my future academic career and the graduate program director's denial to let me go?

  • I've never heard of an "admissions deposit", but whenever an agreement involves a deposit, it's implied that you can back out if you're willing to forfeit the deposit (what other purpose could a deposit have?). If there were no deposit (which I think is more common) then that's a different matter. Commented Jul 15, 2018 at 3:36

2 Answers 2


Traditionally, the recommendation is that as soon as you are accepted you withdraw your applications to schools that are out of the running. Then as soon as you accept an offer you withdraw your remaining applications. If a school make a decision early and requires a decision before you hear from schools you may find more desirable, it is best to ask for an extension.

I go against the norm a little and believe that if a school/employer will not give you and extension and wishes to put you at a disadvantage that it is not unreasonable to reneg on your acceptance. As this is not the norm, it will burn bridges.


If you do it early on in the process the first university will have time to call/recruit someone in their shortlist, in that case you shouldn't worry about it. Depending on how you handle the situation you might or might not burn your bridges at this university, but I wouldn't worry too much about it, just act right away and give yourself a deadline by when you will refuse other offers.

  • I am hoping to receive at least one other offer by March 10 (given that I was offered such a huge sum of money in scholarship by the first university, so I must be in demand), if not earlier. Do you consider March 10 too late to reject the offer that I already accepted? I plan to email the program as soon as I receive another offer.
    – user22613
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 17:31
  • @failexam the norm is that once you accept an offer that you do not go back on your word. As I say in my answer, I find it a stupid norm.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 17:34

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