Are graduate school applications processed before the submission deadline?


Solution 1

In my experience (in a large public American computer science department), review of applications begins as soon as they are submitted, but no decisions are announced until well after the posted deadline. Reviewing graduate applications actually takes significant time, and admissions decisions are based at least in part on comparisons with the rest of the applicant pool.

My university actually forbids announcing admissions decisions before the application deadline. Other universities/countries may have more relaxed policies.

Solution 2

It varies. Last year I applied early, and one (top 20) US school that doesn't do rolling admissions contacted me before the posted deadline to admit me. Then again, other schools explicitly wrote on their website that they don't look at applications until the deadline. Others said they "encouraged" early submission but didn't elaborate what that meant.

I don't think someone would be at a disadvantage for applying late. However, there may be some benefit to applying early. Maybe.


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Updated on December 05, 2020


  • ff524
    ff524 over 1 year

    I will be applying for PhD positions starting in fall 2016. Most of the application deadlines are in January. If I send my application now, will it be processed immediately? Or are the recruiters waiting until the deadline has passed? This probably varies somewhat per geographic region (and university, and department) but I would be mostly interested in UK institutions in the STEM fields.

    • Tom Church
      Tom Church over 6 years
      At least in the US, I do not believe there is any such thing as "recruiters" for graduate admissions in STEM fields.
  • user541686
    user541686 over 6 years
    I don't understand, you think applying early might be beneficial, but applying won't be detrimental? That seems self-contradictory.
  • zelanix
    zelanix over 6 years
    This doesn't really answer the question. The decisions may not be announced, but that doesn't mean that they (or at least some of them) haven't been made. Could you elaborate?
  • JeffE
    JeffE over 6 years
    @zelanix Oh, sure, some committee members make up their minds earlier, and the committee may even vote earlier. But formally, until the official offers of admission are sent out, all such decisions are both tentative and confidential. You aren't supposed to hear earlier, and even if you do, what you hear might change. For all practical purposes, no decisions are made until they're announced.
  • Tom Church
    Tom Church over 6 years
    I downvoted this answer because it seems very disconnected from the realities of graduate admissions.
  • user45484
    user45484 over 6 years
    Yup, it does seem self-contradictory, but I mostly stand by it. When I said it may be beneficial, I mean it may be beneficial for your sanity. You may hear that you get in earlier, for instance. Still, if you submitted your application the night before, maybe you'll hear back later. It doesn't mean you have a worse chance of getting it, necessarily. Could have worded my original post better, but really the true answer is "it depends".