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Thread: Advisable to approach professors before applications?

  1. #1
    Aug 2012

    Advisable to approach professors before applications?

    Hi all

    I would like to ask what's the general take on approaching potential supervisors before ones PhD application for the field of urban planning? My background is Economics, and I am pretty clueless if this is either a norm or a taboo in urban planning in general, or if it depends on the individual schools' policy? I did remember reading that McGill had a strong departmental policy of not allowing applicants to contact their professors beforehand.

  2. #2
    I am a professor (not in planning, but in a related field). For PHD programs, it is absolutely essential to approach professors in advance. Getting a doctorate is very different from getting a Masters. In a Masters program, you are there for a year or so and one of a large group of students. Though professors care about their students, there is no expectation of a professional relationship being developed. In contrast, when a program admits a PHD student, there is an expectation that professors will work very closely with them for years, and even after they graduate. So the better they know you the better.

    I can't speak for McGill, but for most programs, pre-application contact is very appropriate.

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