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Well, I sent a message to a professor asking for an opportunity in its research group aiming to start my Ph.D. (in a major university, top 25 in the world). I sent as attached files my résumé, my research papers as usual on this kind of messages (but I sent the mail with no hope to be answered). Nonetheless, in four hours (in a Saturday if this information helps to the analysis), I have received a response stimulating me to apply (and saying that they are always looking for good students to do research there) and copying this answer to de Ph.D. coordinator program. However, as I sent this message just to know about my chances (before, I have read his papers and résumé of course) I was planning to apply to the Ph.D. only at the end of 2018 (but that answer really surprised me). So the questions are:

1) Is that answer usual? I mean, answering me and "ccing" the Ph.D. coordinator is a good sign or not? Or is this a polite way to answer me? Usually, if your résumé is really good, the professors schedule a call by phone or skype (or is this not a standard?)

2) How to inform them that I would like to apply to de Ph.D. only at the end of next year (because I don't have all the documents and the deadline to apply is December 15th), without prejudice about our conversations?

3) What are the next steps? (any suggestion will be kindly appreciated). I confess I'm quite lost how to proceed.

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    1) this could simply be a university policy, or that the professor, saying to his/her minion(s), handle this! I wouldn't read too much into it. Top places get many applications and in order to deal with the torrents of emails, they could do a standard and let the application process machinery takes over. – Prof. Santa Claus Nov 15 '17 at 22:13
  • What is "de Ph.D."? – Azor Ahai May 24 '18 at 21:34
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You can tell them

I would like to apply to de Ph.D. only at the end of next year. I don't have all the documents and the deadline to apply is December 15th.

What are the next steps?

The way you said it in your question to us was adequately polite :)

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1) Is that answer usual? I mean, answering me and "ccing" the Ph.D. coordinator is a good sign or not? Or is this a polite way to answer me? Usually, if your résumé is really good, the professors schedule a call by phone or skype (or is this not a standard?)

yes, very good sign.

2) How to inform them that I would like to apply to de Ph.D. only at the end of next year (because I don't have all the documents and the deadline to apply is December 15th), without prejudice about our conversations?

well you should start with big thank you and explain the problem with date.

3) What are the next steps? (any suggestion will be kindly appreciated). I confess I'm quite lost how to proceed.

reply as fast as you can, thank them and send all required document for preliminary assessment by the program head.

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If the university is in the US, their reply was likely just a polite way to say "apply but don't get your hopes up." Forwarding to the coordinator tells that they are your point of contact for further questions, which is an usual policy. It also helps the department keep track of interested students.

In many, if not most, departments in the US, individual professors are not responsible for admissions, and generally won't go out of their way to admit you unless they are really interested in working with you (as in you are either spectacular in some way or someone they trust has very, very strongly recommended you). Even if that is the case, you are likely to have to submit a formal application and go through some form of departmental scrutiny.

Reply by thanking them and asking if they plan to take students next year, and that you would be interested in working with them if you are admitted.

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