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Too early to contact POI for PhD program?

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Hi all,

All my applications are in for the Fall 2019 cycle (for MA programs), and I'm starting to get responses. I know this is weird, but I want to get a head start on my PhD applications, which I assume I'll be submitting around December 2020/January 2021. I know my research interests might change in the future, but I'm wondering if it's too early to start reaching out to POI at these schools. I think the general themes of my interests will still be similar to my interests now.

There is one professor in particular that I want to email and the school is where I did my undergrad (I still live near the school). Would it be appropriate to frame it as, "I'll be starting my MA program out-of-state in August/September, can we meet and talk in person before I leave?" I'll also be out-of-state for the summer doing a language program. 

I have a feeling that I shouldn't send anything yet, haha.


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I would say that it might be way too early to contact a POI especially since you are starting an MA soon. I think it's great that you are already thinking about a PhD, but I would imagine that right now professors are focusing on the current application season and trying to get people in the program and all that stuff. By August/September, they're probably thinking about the next cohort or on getting incoming students set up. They will not think about your specific situation until probably October 2020. That's a lot of time for them to completely forget about the conversation they could have with you before you leave. If you are trying to get on their radar for when you apply it doesn't seem like the best choice.  I think it would make more sense to talk to your POI later.

Also I would think that it would be better to focus on having a good relationship with the faculty in the MA program you will be attending. However, if you think that the POI might offer valuable advice/ an interesting perspective for your MA and the research you will be carrying out then that would be different.  But also if I were a professor, I would be wondering that if you were so interested in them why didn't you apply directly to that school and do the PhD since you are already thinking about it? Like what is the point of doing the MA? I don't know if that makes sense, I just think you might be getting a bit ahead of yourself.

I hope this helps and best of luck!

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