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I am not sure if things are different since I am applying into economics coming from mathematics, but most responses to emails have been basically like you look promising however they are not involved in the applications process. I know in mathematics, emailing the professors is a must since you want to see if they will have spots to mentor students when you apply. If a professor you are interested in is not accepting students, then there is no point in applying to the university. 

I am not sure if my phrasing is off or something in the emails, or are these responses to be expected? I am just a bit shocked as a friend the prior year when applying had gotten Skype calls and spoke with professors in detail about research before the process. I am not sure what I am doing wrong... I do not ask about rating my applications or anything, simply if they are accepting students next year and if they have time to talk to discuss their research.

Any advice? Or is this normal in social sciences? 

 

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I am applying to Political Science programs in Canada and I received similar replies. Additionally, since I am an international student they were saying that competition is fierce and scholarships are very limited. However, I had some professors telling me that my research is promising and that I can nominate them as potential supervisors. I think it really depends on the character of the person. What I did was that I directly asked them at the end of my e-mails whether I could nominate them as potential supervisors. Also when they say they are not involved in the process they are probably not involved in the process. Committee that evaluates applications may consist some other people so it ends up at your submitted documents and how well you articulated your research interests. 

Furthermore, I really don't think these people have the time to Skype each person who mails them about possible PhD supervision. They probably receive tens of these mails. One of the professors I contacted is a huge name in his field and although it took him quite a while he replied saying that my research proposal is promising which I think is a positive feedback. If these people are replying back to you it means you actually have something promising going on. My recommendation might sound cliche but just try to submit the best application you can. Try to get the consent of professors that you want to work with so you can include their name as potential supervisors in tour applications. Hope this answer helps you!

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