I got accepted into the Phd program at a Top 3 university in US.

However, as I have an external scholarship (full funding for PhD study), I have to defer my admission to work at the scholarship sponsor research institute for one year.

I wrote to the department explaining my situation, but was informed that deferral is not allowed and I have to reapply next year. Anybody had a similar experience as me? Is there a chance to appeal for my deferral request?

As I have my own fundings, technically speaking I do not occupy a quota in current cohort.

  • 3
    I know that some programs allow deferral, but at least some departments explicitly state their policy is not to allow deferral and only reapplication later - don't know that they are flexible about that short of having some sort of emergency, but you were certainly right to ask. I have to say though, it seems odd to have a scholarship to cover full funding for a PhD yet they don't let you start such a program right away. Have you checked to see if there is an option to do your year at some other time, and thus take a leave of absence for a year from the PhD program later on?
    – BrianH
    Mar 2, 2017 at 3:24
  • Who did you talk to? If you're a good student AND you have your own external funding source you're practically guaranteed admittance anywhere you'd care to study. Get in touch with the graduate program director directly and make sure they understand that you're only deferring for the sake of this scholarship. My experience is that admissions and other staff people have a very limited "script" that they follow, while the actual academics are usually much more nuanced in their consideration (and, those are the people who actually make admissions decisions).
    – David
    Mar 2, 2017 at 6:36
  • You should have mentioned this in advance, when you applied for the PhD... (that you need to defer admission)
    – Rüdiger
    Mar 2, 2017 at 11:35
  • 3
    If you're a good student AND you have your own external funding source you're practically guaranteed admittance anywhere you'd care to study. That seems like WAY too strong a statement. It would make you very competitive, but practically guaranteed seems like an exaggeration. Mar 2, 2017 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


You have no 'rights' in this matter. You apply, they accept you or not, under their own terms. So all you can do is ask again, maybe giving fuller details of your situation.

  • Unfortunately, this is the correct answer. Students have no rights to a deferral, but schools are usually sympathetic to fellowship-related demands.
    – aeismail
    Jan 17, 2018 at 18:57

It really depends on the programs. The best bet is to contact as high up on the chain of command for each department to get the clearest answer. In many cases, explaining your situation could be more than enough to grant you the deferral. The lines are a little blurred as compared to undergraduate admissions, so try to contact the head of the PhD program and explain the situation to them. Or, contact the admissions director for the graduate studies department that the program is housed in. Best of luck.

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