I am planning to apply to PhD courses at 2 different universities. Professor A is at the first school, and professor B is at the second school.

I already communicated with the professor A. I am also thinking of writing a contact e-mail to professor B.

Professor A and Professor B are quite close (academically), as they are working on the upcoming project as co-authors.

Would it be inappropriate if I contact professor B to show my academic interest?

I'm just worried that they might find it unethical to talk about my interest to them simultaneously.

  • Would it be any different if they didn't already know each other? I'm not sure how their friendship has consequences for the ethical dimension of your question. – Ian_Fin Nov 8 '16 at 16:25
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    One of the differences between dating and academic networking is that it's always okay to "flirt" with multiple opportunities at once. – user37208 Nov 8 '16 at 16:56
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    I've been in touch with two coauthors at different universities as well; they didn't mind at all that I emailed both of them. In fact, in my email to B I even said "I noticed you are collaborating with A on project X...". Don't over-think; just press send! :) – astronat Nov 8 '16 at 19:06
  • Not at all unethical - additionally, if you do end up joining either of them and work on the collaborative project, you could end up working with both of them anyways. – Bryan Krause Nov 8 '16 at 23:18

There is no issue here. You're not going to burning any bridges or make anyone upset if you talk to other professors. Your job right now is to find the best university that will take you. The professors at these universities understand that. If they don't, you don't want to work with them.

Personal story time: When I was applying to grad school, I ended up chatting with a husband and wife who were professors at different universities. They had different last names and didn't let on they were married so I didn't find out until another professor told me. I thought it was hilarious and they didn't care that their spouse was also trying to recruit me.


This is very common, particularly in the close-knit communities often found in science. To avoid awkwardness, be up front with both. In the best case scenario, they both bend over backwards to get you so that they 'win'. Use ego to your benefit and know that you're doing nothing wrong.

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