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This past Monday, I was accepted to a PhD program, but they have given me a two-week deadline to accept their offer. From the acceptance letter:

"Please respond as soon as possible, or at the latest within two weeks, as assistantship funds are limited."

I've also been accepted to two other schools, both of which are giving me until April to make the decision (and both of which have not sent final information on the funding package). I may not have funding information from those schools until the end of the month, after this two-week deadline has passed.

When my advisor told me about the two-week deadline over the phone and I expressed my concern about needing to decide so quickly, she told me that because this program is part of the management school at the university, they have different deadlines, and they require a quick decision since they only admit one or two students a year per program. She seemed surprised that other schools were giving me until April.

However, the university's graduate school website indicates that offers of acceptance and financial assistance made before April 1 should remain open until April 15.

Though I expressed concern, I have not yet formally asked for a deadline extension. Are there other schools (and specifically business management schools) that require such a quick decision prior to the traditional April 15 deadline? And if I am told that they cannot accommodate an extension, should I point out the deadline information from the graduate school's website?


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Wow that's surprising they've asked for a two-week turnaround on your decision.  It must be because they sit in the management program, because in general most PhD programs allow you until April 15th.  If you have other programs you are considering and waiting to hear from on funding then I think this is on of the few occasions where getting in touch might actually be helpful.  I would probably reach out to the other programs and say that you're in the unusual situation of having one program asking for a firm decision well before April 15th and while you understand they may not be able to give you an answer right now you're really interested in their program and would appreciate your application and possibly funding status a bit sooner.  

It sounds like the program you applied to may not be that flexible on their deadline for an answer, but many PhD programs are in the midst of deciding right now and it might not be that hard for them to give you a decision.  Not sure, just a thought ... 

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I got a simular thing attached to a very nice fellowship offer from a low ranked school. I asked my advisors what they thought and they said its a strategy often employed by low rank schools when they are pretty sure your not going to accept them cause your "too good for them" and want to cut their losses and move on to the next best quickly. It also feeds on fears that you might not get accepted to a "better" program since you havent heard back from them yet. This may or may not be simular to what you are experiencing because Im in a very different feild than management. 

If you are genuinely interested express that but explain that this is a big decision and as a critical future graduate student you like to have all the data and analyse it before making a decision and if you could have more time and they could give you more recourses, it helps to be specific I think. I spoke with the PIs of the lab I wanted to get into because I have a real interest in the research they are doing, research wise they are pretty much a perfect match for me, and was given nearly a month's extension and a campus visit so I can better evaluate my options. This is exactly what I wanted so I can consider my options without time pressure and make the best decision so Im pleased as punch.

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Thanks, I wouldn't consider it low-ranked (sport management is a pretty niche PhD program; there aren't formal rankings published but the department head is the current recipient of the top lecturer award in this field), though they definitely expressed that a reason for a quick deadline was so that if I do turn them down, they can offer to the next student in line before that student accepts elsewhere. 

In terms of programs, it's top two for me in terms of research match, but I have some concerns about the cost of living in the area, for which knowing how the funding stacks up against the other two schools would be ideal. Plus the turnaround has been so quick (Friday Skype interview, Monday acceptance) that I've had to scramble to put a cross-country campus visit together for next week (the other two schools had recruitment visits in January).

I will ask them about extending and see what they say!


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