How soon can I expect to hear from graduate programs?
February 3, 2010 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I've applied to several graduate programs, all with due dates around Jan. 1. Is it too soon to expect a response from the admissions departments?

Is it improper to call the respective schools and inquire about the status of my application?
posted by kuatto to Education (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes and yes. Wait until at least the beginning of March before you call anyone.
posted by nosila at 7:51 PM on February 3, 2010

Yes and yes. Chill out for now.
posted by blazingunicorn at 7:51 PM on February 3, 2010

Addendum: unless there was something in the application that said they would let you know by Feb. 1.
posted by nosila at 7:51 PM on February 3, 2010

As I find myself saying on Ask MetaFilter a lot this time of year, I run Ph.D. admissions for a department at a large research university. We won't make offers for another couple of weeks, and I know other departments on a still later schedule.

If you actually have some reason to think your application hasn't been received, it's fine to call the graduate administrator. Otherwise, sit tight.
posted by escabeche at 7:58 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Two items of advice, one being technically right but actually completely totally wrong in a deeper sense, and the other being what you should do:

1) Google for Grad Cafe (I refuse to link to the place) and then do a results search there for the programs you've applied to. If they've started sending acceptances/rejections, they'll likely show up on the list.

2) (what you should actually do) Chill out until March, and for the love of all that is good and holy don't go to the Grad Cafe. You're already jumpy enough just waiting, and looking at that place is guaranteed to make you about a thousand times more jumpy.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:00 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

LOL @You Can't Tip a Buick - s/he is right though. Grad Cafe is what you're looking at.

I'd also venture to suggest that budgets are TIGHT this year. In my neck of the woods, they're so unsure as to who for and how funding is going to work out, I'd imagine that they'll be a lot later than normal.
posted by k8t at 8:22 PM on February 3, 2010

As a former graduate admissions coordinator: the amount of time I would spend responding to requests like this was significant. My job was to be understanding and I was always polite, but privately it did annoy me a bit because I could have used that time to do my real job, i.e. help get everyone's decisions out to them faster. You accomplish nothing by calling; if nothing else, it's bad karma. Don't be that guy.
posted by rjacobs at 8:23 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thirding Grad Cafe, but it may not be worth the angst, anxiety, and despair you will feel when you see other people announcing admittances to your programs while your phone remains silent. That is not a fun place to be.
posted by apricot at 8:30 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I sat on the admissions committee for a grad department at a large research university. Basically, our schedule was the following: one meeting at the beginning of the term where the chair told us how the process was normally done; four weeks of reading applications, with no meetings at all; and meetings from mid-February onwards where we actually made admissions decisions.

Also, in most graduate programs there's a pretty universal April 15 "decision date": almost every University requires you to tell them whether you're coming or not by April 15. This means that you can wait until the beginning of April to know what your options are. Having been through the process, I can understand that it would be reassuring to hear back from somewhere, anywhere, but remind yourself that it's not going to make your final decision happen any sooner.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:30 PM on February 3, 2010

Have you logged into any of the school's application websites? They usually send out an email as soon as an admission decision is available. But I've found it mildly comforting to log in and check that my applications are indeed complete, and that the decisions are indeed unavailable at this time.

I applied to 5 places in early December. So far I've received 1 rejection, 1 acceptance (at a UK school, which has really quick decision turnarounds), 1 'please-send-us-more-info' and we'll decide, and 2 schools that I don't expect to hear from until March. One of those last two schools will determine my life path. I feel your frustration. But sit tight. As soon as you hear back from at least one place, you won't feel invisible in the world of academia.

Also, one last thing...Don't call the schools or bug the grad advisers/admins, but do try to find out how competitive the schools are that you applied to. If the the 2-5 advisers have 100+ applications to read, that's going to take some time. And they have classes to teach and students to help. I'm sure that next year you'll be wishing your PhD advisor would hurry up and finish reading that year's apps to they can get back to helping you with your projects. ;)
posted by iamkimiam at 8:54 PM on February 3, 2010

Back in the day, when I was applying to grad school in math, I heard from the graduate school sometime in late February or early march, with notice that I needed to let them know if I was coming by April 15...and I received notice that I'd been awarded a TA position on April 14.

So hang tight and don't despair.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:00 PM on February 3, 2010

Just to give a counter-example, I am a professor in Management. Our deadline was Jan 15. We met 5 days later and made our selections. We have already made a couple admission offers and we have scheduled visits with those people. So, some schools do move quickly.
posted by bove at 6:19 AM on February 4, 2010

I applied to my program on January 1st and found out I was accepted in April.

They will contact you when their decision is made. Calling them will not speed up the process.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:16 AM on February 4, 2010

It's still pretty early to hear after a January 1 deadline.

As an admissions coordinator, I prefer a "checking to make sure application is complete" call (or email) to a "why haven't I heard a decision yet?" one.

We make a few offers and a few declines each week as we make our way through the piles of applications. All I can usually say is, "Your application is complete and is under review." I can't answer, "When will I know?"
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2010

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