So I had been in conversation with this Professor for a long time. He said that he encouraged me to apply and mentioned that I should mention his name clearly in my statement and that he had said so. He also read my statement via email and said it was very well and would definitely make comments when my file reaches him. Recently, he told me that he made his comments on my file. However, I haven’t heard anything from the graduate admissions committee. Can a professor actually influence a grad committee? Is there a chance of getting an admit?

Usually to be accepted by a PhD program by a reputed university the admission committee looks for candidates who have made research contributions to the desired field (specially through publications). A Masters student however only starts his/her research work in the last semester and even if something substantial is done during that time, getting it published would take a fair amount of time. How is it possible then for a masters student who’s applying for PhD showcase their publications in the application?

I’m an undergraduate electronics and communication engineering student (sophomore) at an Indian university. I joined this engineering course because I found the areas of quantum computing/information and quantum engineering quite interesting, and I felt an EE background would help me later on to pursue higher studies in these areas.

Lately, although I still have great interest in those areas (quantum computing/information/engineering), I am finding myself very much interested in certain topics in mathematics and mathematical physics. Namely, mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics and quantum information (which involves learning a lot of extra math topics like functional analysis), differential geometry and topology (and their application in theoretical physics), statistical learning (I’m finding the application of statistics in machine learning quite interesting and have been reading quite a few books related to that) and discrete mathematics (graph theory and combinatorics).

The natural thing to do in such a case would be pursue a minor in mathematics. But, unfortunately, our university does not offer any minor degrees or dual major degrees. So, it’s not possible for me to formally take extra classes in mathematics. Upon pondering a bit I realize that I might want to pursue my higher studies in some interdisciplinary area which involves knowing things from electronics engineering as well as from the rigorous mathematical physics and statistical learning (machine learning/data science/AI). I’m not sure if such an interdisciplinary area of study even exists at the graduate level (?). But I’m really enjoying learning the new things in mathematics and I don’t want my spending time on learning these things go in vain.

So, in short, what would be the correct way to keep proof that I’m actually learning these extra things (so that I can show that I actually know these extra subjects/topics while applying for grad school) ? Should I participate in some research projects in these areas? (But then again professors don’t seem to accept people who haven’t taken formal courses into their research projects)

I have two very good admission offers from good universities in the US, and I am having a hard time choosing between them. So much that I am starting to consider less relevant factors, such as the position of the department in the different rankings. I believe that the ranking from the US News and World Report is the most prestigious one. However, they only show the top-10 departments on my field. I would need to pay 30 USD to see the full ranking. Is it worth it?

I will be going for my undergraduate thesis under a professor (at a different institute than my home university) in May 2018. I will work with him from May – December 2018. I plan to apply to graduate school (for my masters) for fall 2019, so applications will be done around November 2018.

Since some professors have different policies of writing recommendations for students (for some 6 months is a short time of work to write a good letter, some have other conditions), I am thinking about asking the professor whether he would be willing to write recommendation letters for my applications during November, provided of course he is satisfied with my work.

I thought this would be better to get out of the way beforehand, so that he will know that I am willing to do substantial work during this time, and am willing to take on as much work as he feels is necessary to do before he can write a strong recommendation letter. This will also help me strategise for graduate school admissions and prevent me from being put on the spot if he refuses to write a recommendation in November.

Is this (asking about recommendation beforehand) a standard practice? I feel he shouldn’t mind because I am trying to cover all my bases and plan for my future. I feel it will be better for the both of us if we agree on all such conditions beforehand.

I’m a physics (major) and mathematics (double major) student, and and I’m in my second year.

As I have written in this question:

Although I haven’t attended many different professor’s lectures, from
what I have experienced, and what I know about the professors in both
of my departments, I generally don’t like the style that the lecturers
uses in both departments. What I mean by this is that, for example, in
physics courses, generally lecturers tend to justify their claim by
doing “sloppy mathematics” and generally without clearly stating their
assumptions, and they don’t explicitly state what is an experimental
result and what is a mathematical result, so this generally confuses
me.Of course this is just one of the examples only in physics
department.Therefore, mostly I studied the subject by myself, and ask
the questions either to the T.A, or the professor’s itself depending
on situation.

I should also note that, in both departments, there are some
professors whose way of explains things coincides with how I think, so
if I cannot understand a subject that I’m self-studying, I generally
go to those professors and ask them.

I do not like the way that most of the professors teach in physics department, and this situation appears to be exist also in mathematics department, i.e there are some professors who teach Advance Calculus to math students as if they are teaching freshman year Calculus to some other department’s students, so taking course from these kind of people really is just a waste of time for me.

Therefore, what I do is that I study almost all the subjects by myself including lots of subjects that I’m not going to take a lecture on.

Addition to those, the subjects that I’m going to study in physics, such as
Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Classical Mechanics etc., needs lots of mathematical background on “tons” of subjects in mathematics if one wishes to study them rigorously. (Also lots of awareness on experiments done throughout the last two century), so I cannot directly take courses in physics department and study them by myself and pass the lecture because of the “prerequisites” that I have mentioned, I need time before taking those courses, so even though I have >3.5 GPA in both of my major, I’m planing to stay one extra year in university, which means I will graduate from both my degrees in 6 years (even though I was also taking courses from math department in my freshman year, I have officially started my double major this fall, and in my country, a major lasts 4 years).


After I graduate, I’m going to pursue Phd (in physics or mathematics), but how will this, i.e late graduation and what I did during my undergraduate degree, be perceived by the admission committee ? Moreover, how will this be perceived by a future employer, or in general, if I do this, what will this affect my academic career negatively ?

I have two offers for a physics PhD in the UK. Both are great choices and I don’t really have a preference. However, neither is funded so far and on both sides, the PIs are actively looking for funding and I think the chances are very good that I will eventually get it.

Both universities have a deadline for acceptance by the end of the February and the funding situation certainly will not be resolved by then. What do I do? I’m essentially ready to commit to whoever has funding. Should I accept both offers now and withdraw from one later (assuming this is allowed) or should I ask for an extension from both?

During PhD admissions, our department assigns each admitted PhD student both a faculty and grad student contact, and we make every effort to express our excitement and enthusiasm about the student joining our program; often the faculty contact is a prospective advisor. Usually there are some nice conversations, which provide a nice prelude to the on-campus visit.

In one or two cases, I’ve had a student simply stop responding to email. In this instance, a student I admitted who was initially glad to talk to me quickly cut off contact with both me and the grad student contact (even before the visit). I am trying to understand if this is a bad sign, or if I’m just reading too much into it. It’s been a long time since I was a PhD student, and I suppose there are a lot of reasons for this behavior. Still, during my own PhD visits I was sure to be very polite and timely with everyone who contacted me.

Question for current prospective PhD students: Why would you give a faculty member the cold shoulder, rather than just replying politely and briefly to their email?

I can come up with lots of hypotheses (busy with classes, overwhelmed with contacts from faculty, or simply not interested in the program), but all I can do is guess. I want to hear from the latest generation of students: what makes these interactions with prospective advisors tough?