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Typically, is sooner better than later?


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I know the basic timetable for most graduate program notification (mid-february to mid-april). It also seems, according to this website, that most schools start with PhD candidates and then eventually get to masters students. However, I wonder what the general protocol is for informing applicants. Do they typically inform the rejected candidates first, then the wait-lists, and then the accepted, or is it the other way around or perhaps random?


Edited by MatthewCook
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From my experience when I first applied for my PhD two years ago, I received my rejection letters before the acceptances had gone out. I was waitlisted by one school and then rejected after they received confirmation of who was attending out of the people that they had sent out acceptances to. I was accepted into a MS program to the school I currently attend, despite applying for the PhD, and I was not informed that I had been accepted until late April. I think that there is an order that they go in and first reject all of the people that are not well-suited for the program, and then go through who will be waitlisted or accepted. I find that larger schools, despite having earlier deadlines, respond much later than smaller schools.

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It depends. If you are rejected because you don't meet to the minimum requirements, or if there is definitely no supervisor for you, you might get a rejection pretty fast. Conversely, if you are rejected because other candidates ultimately beat you out in a competition, it might take a long time to get an answer.

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If it's a rejection, a quick one means you didn't make the minimum requirements. The longer it takes to get the rejection means you weren't obviously not good enough, or you may have been placed on some un/official waiting list.


For acceptances, I think a very quick one is good because that means they took one first look at the application and said "Yes!" Otherwise, it just means they're going through the big pile of applications and trying to decide which are the best applicants.


I have noticed that schools trying to attract the good students send out notifications early whereas the higher ranked ones seem to take their time.

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