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pd1989

Accepted without interview.. how to chose professor?

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Hello, 

I have been admitted to two programs without interview and I have no idea which research lab or professor took me in. I had mentioned few professor's name in my SOP. So should I mail them to find out if they want me to work with them? Is it appropriate? Help me out! 

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In the US, many programs do not accept a student directly to join a professor's lab. Instead, you are just accepted to the department in general and you decide on the lab or group later. This has positives and negatives. Positive: You get to join the program, do some coursework and get to know people before you commit to a lab. Negative: You are not guaranteed a spot in a specific lab, so if you were hoping to join a specific lab, you might not end up in that lab. Personally, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

However, the department does know your general interests and they normally admit people to have a diverse set of interests. That is, most programs won't admit two people with the same set of interests unless there were really two spots for them. 

It is definitely appropriate to email the professors that you are interested in working with. Let them know that you are accepted to their program and that you would like to talk with them about their research and the potential to join their lab/group. They should hopefully let you know how the process works. Some schools might not put you into a lab before the year begins but you can still secure yourself a spot by talking with the prof. Other schools might not want you to commit to a prof until after your first year. So, talk to the profs you are interested in and see what the procedure is like. This will also help you decide which offer to accept. You might change your mind about your interests after you learn more about the profs. Or, you might rethink whether you want to accept an offer to a school if there is only one single prof you would work with and that prof's lab is already very full and you may not get a spot.

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Thank you so much @TakeruK for your detailed reply. I think I will try to contact the professors about the scope of doing research with them. Meanwhile one professor from each of the programs has sent me emails saying that they would like to take me in their lab. Skype sessions are scheduled with their grad students next week. Let's see how things turn out to be.

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