If you need help with online teaching or other challenges in academia arising from the COVID-19 crisis, we have prepared this FAQ to get you started.

New answers tagged

1

Congratulations on your offers. This is really four questions. Would I benefit from a deferment? It sounds like you feel bad about "abandoning" your current program. You should not. You probably owe them nothing. PhD programs benefit universities more than students. Completing your master's will do nothing to change the fact that you are switching ...


1

As Mad Jack pointed out, for students, Emailing faculty is not all that easy. I'm a (relatively) new grad student and have been through the process more than once. At least for three of the PhD programs I got offers from, I responded very late and very minimally, even though a few faculty did reach out to me. I wish I was more responsive and honestly, I was ...


0

Even in the best of times, which these are not, anything that attempts to go around the established admissions system is pretty much assured to be ignored. In particular, if ranking has been going on, based on normal application materials, nothing you say in an email is going to convince them to rank you over someone else. It would probably be considered ...


0

Not ok. Columbia is in New York City, which is about to go through its worst week of the pandemic. Your profile says you're from Seoul. Do you just have no idea what's going on in NYC? Have some compassion and leave them alone for now. If, on the other hand, you can donate supplies or help volunteer remotely, with things like coding or data analysis, to ...


0

I think David's comment sums it up well: Emailing the admissions office will almost certainly do nothing. Emailing a professor you'd like to work with could be useful[.] Regardless, emailing is a complete shot in the dark -- the more likely possibility is your email is ignored. But it depends on how you write the email, and how impressive the additional ...


0

Can a Guest Lecturer be my Referee? Yes, they can. To determine if they are the best referee for a graduate application, try answering the following questions: Can this person attest for my strong research potential? (Not just performance in coursework) (e.g. did you talk to them after lecture about ideas outside the scope of the course? Did they seem ...


4

Funded masters degrees are getting generally phased out in most fields. They seem to be replaced with unfunded masters' degrees, and/or all students are getting funneled into the funded PhD programs. The prevailing wisdom (as far as I can tell) is that funding masters students is a waste because as soon as you've trained them to know stuff they leave, ...


5

The underlying issue is that if the university reimbursed you, you'd essentially have made money. That's because you end up with the university's money plus the flight credit. That seems like a good deal for you, and that makes it a bad deal for the university. In many cases, airlines give you a choice: (i) take the flight credit for a future flight; (ii) ...


5

The starting point is probably to respond politely but firmly to the academic in charge of the admissions process, pointing out that you cannot eat a flight credit, and that the grad school's actions have led to a substantial and unexpected hole in your budget. Frame it as a 'moral' obligation rather than a 'legal' one. If you've had significant interactions ...


2

I don't expect this to be an issue. I have been at departments where two spouses were faculty members. I have also received and evaluated applications where there were references for the same candidate from academics who I know are close collaborators and friends. In each case, the natural assumption was that they have their own careers, working style, ...


2

Given that you prefer an offer from them to all others, I suggest the following. First, the opening and closing remarks are a bit trite unless you know this person already. You aren't writing to a friend, so keep it professional. I sometimes use "Stay safe" as a closing salutation now days, but nothing else. But the important point is to leave out most ...


1

The email is perfectly appropriate and not offensive. However it is a bit confusing and the clarity can be improved. Specifically, your email does not clearly highlight the question your asking and it is easy to ignore or misunderstand the purpose (why you are writing) because there is a lot of other stuff in it. That other stuff is definitely good to ...


0

You are eligible for a PhD in some European countries with just a bachelor's degree. There may exist countries - e.g., I believe Germany -* where a master's degree is universally required before a PhD. In other countries, requirements vary between institutes (and supervisors may even insist upon their own requirements). So a list of countries probably isn't ...


0

Actually, send three things. The cover letter is introductory and speaks about your desire and basic qualifications for working with that professor. It is a sort of a Statement of Purpose. Also send the CV. But the third document is one that specifically addresses, in order, each item in the stated selection criteria and how you meet that criterion or that ...


0

If you're planning to apply to graduate school in the next year or two and already have any ideas of prospective advisors you'd like to work with, I'd recommend reaching out to them by email to introduce yourself, tell them why you'd like to work with them, and ask whether they have any idea yet about how they will weight this when considering applicants. ...


4

The class in question is a not a major or graduation requirement Assuming you want to go to graduate school in a topic closely related to your major, taking one unrelated course pass/fail will not matter under normal circumstances. It will matter even less because everybody knows students are being encouraged to take classes pass/fail during the pandemic.


0

In addition to the suggestions in other answers, you might consider suggesting some collaboration without and independently of being his Ph.D. candidate. Perhaps suggest a visit. If you're super-interested in what he's doing, maybe co-advisorship might be relevant. Of course - you might not be interested and then it's not relevant. I'm just saying that ...


1

There are basically two scenario's here. The professor still has an open PhD position, and you're not going to take it. That means he'll have to find someone else. But why didn't you accept that position? Was that purely because of reasons that are particular to you? If so, tell the professor. That means he might have more luck with the next candidate. But ...


4

There is nothing out of the ordinary here - they made an offer, you declined, they inquire if there is anything they could do to change your mind (presumably you did not provide a concrete reason for declining, otherwise they would have probably made an offer that potentially changes this reasoning or, if that's not possible, wouldn't even have asked). How ...


1

Your research experience counts! Specifically, you are getting experience in the process of "doing research": finding a question, reading the literature, forming hypotheses and figuring out how to test them, etc. These are important skills, even moreso than (say) knowing your way around a specific instrument's console. Admission committees also know that ...


2

You're stuck in a conundrum you'll encounter all through your life: You have a girl/boy friend and you wonder whether it's worth committing and getting married -- but you keep wondering whether anyone better might come along eventually. You have a job offer from a well-paying company, but you still have that application pending with Google. You have a grad ...


57

I would just reply that you thank him for his interest but that it isn't possible to work together at this time. But suggest that you would be honored/happy to stay in contact for the future if your fields of interest intersect. Over the long run you want to build up a set of contacts like this and you have an opportunity to start it. He might be a future ...


16

First, tell no lies. Second, thank the professor for their vote of confidence in your ability. Be gracious. If you are accepting a placement with another advisor or at another institution then say so. You need not provide any reasons justifying your decision. Simply be polite and state the bare minimum required to convey your situation. If you have ...


4

Well, he wanted to have you and is trying to find out whether there is any condition that he may change to convince you otherwise (e.g. pay, conditions or something else). If there isn't way to convince you, then you can simply make clear that you made up your mind to pursue some other option, and, if you wish to be more specific, you could say what you ...


1

This is an absurd claim! I am an international student who has got acceptance from 5 US Ph.D. programs. I have my friends who are doing their Ph.D. in top US schools. There are lots of international students in all the US universities! Don't listen to that guy, make a good profile and apply. Good luck.


1

The situation is chaotic and it is difficult to make a prediction or give firm advice. Either path could be better than the other, depending on the judgments of others. However, one prediction that I can make with confidence is that universities sending out grades will also be sending out explanations that extraordinary measures were taken in extraordinary ...


24

The letter is fine, but I'd actually suggest that you replace this: I have asked prof A about studying with him, but he has kindly refer you to me since he's on leave next year. with something like the following: Prof A has referred me to you as being a good fit for my research interests. There is no real need for the rest of it, and might be ...


-2

Chances are, the referee has told/will tell anyway. Just be upfront about it.


0

It would be better to have the publications than to not have them. So if that is your question, duh, yes. They do matter. Of course, your overall application contains various elements: grades, test scores, LORs, other accomplishments (papers, etc.). As to whether you're a good/bad candidate to get accepted, hard to say, when you only describe one ...


0

Having publications is a plus, but so are other things. You are asking about three extremely competitive institutions and they get a lot of applications from a lot of highly qualified candidates. Most of them have many positive elements to their applications. It is impossible to say where you would be judged in relation to this group. However, decisions in ...


0

I don't think that notifying them will change anything. And it might even work against you if they know you have another possible situation already. There might be rules that prevent dropping you from the waitlist. But if not, you are more likely to be dropped than advanced. They won't, in particular, put you ahead of another candidate rated higher on ...


0

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that the overall enrollment picture for undergraduate education was only mildly effected by the 2008 recession. However, many of those students chose community colleges rather than traditional four year colleges. This might suggest a downward pressure on doctoral admissions as there might be a lesser ...


1

I actually see that you need to revaluate your Priorities about the so called Top 10 Universities. I now see that the so called Top Schools are just Ranking Junkies. Apply to lesser Known Schools in the USA Canada or Europe because the Top Schools attract too many Applicants for just 1000 Spots. In 2002 Harvard Attracted 22.000 Applicants and now in 2020 ...


1

Wondering with all the travel bans and people leaving cities if previously filled places might become available this year in the US? Obviously universities are in disarray so don't want to bother them at this time....Just wondering if there's any scope to start this year as now I have no work. Any ideas if this is feasible? It sounds very unlikely. It is ...


1

Really interested in theoretical physics and Applied mathematics. Can I get into a theoretical physics Phd You might not even need to get into a physics phd. At least in some parts of the world mathematical physics are considered to be a mathematics subjects. From what I understand they do work on physics. Depending on what flavor of physics you are ...


2

Yes (you might not even need the Physics GRE). Example: The usual minimum entry requirement is a first-class honours degree, awarded after a four-year course in physics, mathematics or engineering, or a three-year degree together with a one-year postgraduate course on advanced mathematics and theoretical physics. Part III (MMath/MASt) of the Mathematical ...


7

Probably no burned bridges. Like everyone else (especially now) they are busy and just focused on the essential things they need to do to keep everything else together. In normal times you might have gotten a few more replies, but not from everyone. They just say to themselves "oh well" and move on to the next crisis. I suspect that even those who haven't ...


-3

Going forward, I would advise that you simply choose your gender status as non-binary or choose the “prefer not to say” option on applications. Academic institutions are moving towards a model of racial and gender equity in programs and unfortunately that means that you might not be considered as valuable to the program because of your sexual orientation, ...


-1

It depends on your local laws of course, but if it can be proven that you were discriminated against because of your gender, there's a good chance it was unlawful. Related question I asked on the Law StackExchange. The law cited is for Australia, and the relevant section is Section 21, which explicitly prohibits "educational authorities" from refusing or ...


10

It is possible you were unfairly rejected. This is not really possible to prove one way or the other, from the information in your post. Unrelated to that, however, your post shows a lack of understanding for the standard justifications of affirmative action, and why admissions committees sometimes may try to improve the gender balance of their decisions. I ...


1

There shouldn't be an issue if they use letterhead of their present employer. They will probably say something about the change of affiliation. But it might be improper for them to submit on the old employer's letterhead. But a letter on plain paper should also be fine, assuming that the letter writer provides contact information so that their affiliation ...


3

Whether it is during your interview, or when they read you SoP, there will always read your enthusiasm between the lines. If you happen to be doing some self-study by yourself, it clearly shows that you are personally interested in the subject and enthusiastic about it. Plus, by doing undertaking such projects, you will have a much wider perspective about ...


2

The is a degree of randomness to these processes and factors that are unknown or not described in your post. Think of any logistic regression model that you might have seen. Some proportion of those predicted to be 1 actually are 0 and vice versa. It could be due to an excluded variable but it could be random. Are you both proposing to work with the same ...


2

A reading program directed by a professor who will somehow examine you on what you have learned is one thing, especially if it comes with a formal evaluation. But a private reading program that has no validation element isn't going to help in admissions or on a CV. It is something you could mention in an interview, I think, but you would be immediately ...


14

I have had people I know who are senior mathematicians tell me in private conversation that they believe it is right and proper to discriminate in favor of females in mathematics in things like graduate admissions and job hiring. In some cases they essentially admitted (in a circumspect, plausibly-deniable sort of way) to practicing this kind of ...


-3

Discrimination is when an under-represented group is excluded from an opportunity. Nearly everyone agrees that is unfair. Affirmative action is when an over-represented group is excluded from an opportunity. This is your situation. Some people think that affirmative action creates justice because it compensates for unfair discrimination by resulting in a ...


6

The comparison you make is quite compelling, insofar as you both went to the same school, and have conducted similar tests/classes in your respective CVs, and there is no aspect (that you have mentioned) where her record is stronger than yours. I would recommend you take a careful look to see if there are any aspects of your girlfriend's CV that are ...


0

I am not sure anyone here is going to be much help for your specific situation. There should be someone at your university you can talk with, a study counselor or someone similar. They can better gauge the current situation, especially at your own institute. And a bit more general advice: these types of situations can be very stressful, and I would advice to ...


1

You need to explore this with the institutions you apply to. And you need to read the correspondence carefully. If you get accepted, then you are probably accepted except in rare circumstances. But if you are "conditionally accepted" then you need to meet the conditions, whatever they are, to assure acceptance. Acceptances are generated based on more ...


17

Context: I have had candidates in similar situations apply to positions I offered in the past. It's certainly possible - you are not a slave to your current group, and there is no law that says that we cannot hire people who have already started (and quit) a PhD elsewhere. However, in practice, applicants in your situation raise an interesting question for ...


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