Applying to same PhD programs coming from same undergrad.

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Applying to same PhD programs coming from same undergrad.

Post by kiurys » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:00 pm

Me and a friend from the same university have been doing the application process together, finding schools etc for math phd. We are applying to mostly the same programs with the exception of 1 or 2. Last friday at a department party we were talking to some professors and they told us that the overlap between the places we are applying should be minimal because they usually dont accept 2 students coming from the same university.To be honest it makes sense, but it worries me immensely...Is there some kind of truth to this?

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Re: Applying to same PhD programs coming from same undergrad.

Post by owlpride » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:54 pm

A few data points: There are 5 students from Harvard in my year at Stanford. MIT last year accepted multiple students from several universities in the first round. Columbia, if I remember correctly, did not make first-round offers to multiple students from the same university. I have heard from a grad student at Penn that a classmate of his got waitlisted at Penn and was rejected on the same day that he accepted Penn's offer.

Admission procedures seem to vary by graduate program.

It is certainly true that applicants from the same university can be more easily compared side-by-side - especially if you also have overlapping references. That same phenomenon is a huge concern when two grad students with the same advisor finish together and apply for academic jobs at the same time. Benevolent advisers will tell half of the jobs that student A is the stronger candidate and the other half that student B is stronger. Otherwise the stronger student would end up with all of the job offers and the weaker one might be left empty-handed. Or worse, the advisor might try his best to give both students "equal" recommendations and then they both sound fishy enough that neither student is successful on the job market.

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Re: Applying to same PhD programs coming from same undergrad.

Post by gromov » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:28 pm

I think there are 2 main considerations that apply for ALL graduate schools:
1) Are you two studying the same kinds of things? {What does that graduate school want more of?}

2) Is one noticeably stronger?

And then, of course owlpride makes a good point that there really is a 3) Does that particular graduate program prefer not to admit several students from the same school?

I imagine those 5 Harvard students aren't all studying the same thing, though it could be otherwise.

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