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Turned down after making arrangements 7 months ago


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After contacting a potential supervisor with whom I share research interests, I've been admitted to a PhD program 7 months ago (fall admission, program starts in Sept.). I accepted the offer (in big part) because this professor could take a student, and in fact, upon my admission the department wes informed that I would have joined his group at the start of the program.

The professor in question turned me down a few days ago for funding reasons (is that possible?), that is less than a month before starting the program. I didn't really know that this could have happened but now I should find another supervisor.

I'm starting to contact other professors in the same university but I think I'm quite late.. Should I mention that I'm contacting them so late because of this fact?

Edited by gabriele
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In chemistry, I'd say this is not only possible but quite common, at least in the US.

I highly recommend to most prospective applicants that they not accept an offer from a school that doesn't have multiple faculty they would be interested in working with. Funding situations can change, faculty might leave, or another applicant might beat you out for the one coveted spot in a lab you wanted to work in.

Unlike some other fields, chemistry tends to be more an "accept people to the program" field rather than an "accept people to a research group" field. That's why it's common for schools to employ rotations, where students work with 2-4 PIs for the first 6mos-1 year, followed by a "selection" process where PIs and students match up if they fit.

You don't mention, however, if you're doing your PhD in the US or Europe- I don't know the situation in the EU nearly as well.

In the US, it wouldn't be a big deal to get in touch with other professors that you're also interested in, and tell them you'd like to meet with them when you get there in a few weeks. Most of our entering class (with the exception of a few students that started early) have no idea who they'll end up working with- they'll all have the first semester to ask around, work in some labs, and decide.

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Thank you! This information is really useful and quite relieving. I didn't understand these dynamics because I come from Europe and here the situation is quite a bit different (admission is more professor-bound). My specific case is probably something intermediate because the university is canadian and I have to decide my supervisor in the first month.

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