I am applying for a PhD position in Canada. I have already talked to a Professor and for some reasons, he really wants to hire me as his student. The problem is that currently, I have no TOEFL score requirement. The professor told me that he may convince the graduate committee to conditionally accept me.

I was wondering how likely he can do it? Who makes the final decision about a PhD applicant?

  • The admission committee makes the final call. Your intended supervisor can only advise this committee to consider you.
    – Coder
    Sep 22, 2016 at 22:05
  • 2
    At my university, graduate admissions are technically under the control of a university-wide graduate school office. As far as I know, these people have always simply ratified the decisions of departmental admissions committees. So, in effect, the departmental committees make the decision. Sep 23, 2016 at 2:13
  • Here is a related question, emphasizing a similar point with @Coder's answer below, although for US schools rather than Canada: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/170755/…
    – hex
    Jul 20, 2021 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Let me explain my comment as an answer.

The admission process works in two different ways: Formal enrolment and informal enrolment


You apply through university web link and select the research areas or supervisor. Then probably you communicate with the chosen supervisor through email(s). If things go well then you might get an interview call or direct admit.


You approach the supervisor first. Discussions or interviews may go on. If everything is alright, you supervisor would speak with the admission committee for your official admit.

In both these types of cases your supervisor recommends for the admission. However, it is the decision of the admission committee to make the final call.

Note: I have skipped the recommendation letters related points which is a major part in both these types of enrolment.

Moreover, each University has their own set of rules. It is wise to go through the same.


In my day in the UK at the University of Sussex it went something like this; well at least for Chemistry. In your final year students undertake a project with a department researcher. Generally, at this stage you have a pretty strong idea if you want to undertake a postgrad course and undoubtedly who you would like to work with.

Then, during this project if you are interested to carry on you just asked. It boiled down to funding. Some from the University but mostly from industry who were willing to sponsor the student so they could get research done. The costs went towards the student grant to pay for living costs etc and then lab supplies etc. If you got on well, showed an aptitude for research the 'prof' would say 'sure, I can get the cash and would like to work for me....' All of this, and it was a University thing would hinge on you getting a 2:1 Hons degree. If that happened you were accepted to take out a Ph.D with the research person.

I myself, missed out and got a 2:2. That said, someone dropped out in doing their Ph.D and I was offered the grant instead.

Ph.D's were also advertised externally in the scientific press and you then really up against other candidates and it became a job interview. Either way you had to be a good student, showed a keen interest in research and well, a generally nice person.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .