Sunday, June 28, 2009

Have money, would like to buy entrance to PhD program

Got this letter today.  Thought I would share, with some specifics removed.  I have never seen anything quite like this and I have gotten lots and lots of emails about jobs, positions, students, etc.

Subject: Application for Ph.D. studies

Dear Prof.


Hope for your best.  I am working as lecturer, Department of XXXX, XXXX University, XXXX, Pakistan. I have completed my M.Phil (Biotechnology)  from XXXX University XXXXX, Pakistan (Thesis title something about microbe interactions with plants).  I have recently secured a fully funded scholarship for Ph.D studies (funding agency: Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, Pakistan).  This scholarship includes living expenses, university fees and travel expenses etc.  I wish to conduct my Ph.D studies at your esteemed university (in any area of biological sciences) .  I will highly appreciate if you kindly send me an acceptance letter for Ph,.D studies under your esteemed supervision,  so that I can proceed with my paper work with Higher Education commission, Islamabad.  Please also find attached herewith my brief CV.


Best regards




Department of XXXX

XXXX University, XXXX



Here are some comments from FriendFeed


  1. Just sounds like a request for direct admit to me. While not the most common way to get into grad school, isn't it still pretty normal?

  2. I have never heard of a "direct admit". What is that?

  3. I think characterizing this as attempting to "buy entrance" is a bit uncharitable. In many countries (such as the UK), having funding is a necessary precondition of beginning a PhD, so he is probably used to it being a salient detail.

    Although, yes, it is naive for him to ask you to send him an acceptance letter just like that.

  4. OK - maybe I should have not written this up so quickly with my two kids climbing on me --- my complaint is NOT that the person has funding which is great but it was that this seemed to be a form email with only a peripheral connection to me/my institution. There is no mention of what I work on and the line " I wish to conduct my Ph.D studies at your esteemed university (in any area of biological sciences) . " made me think that this person probably sent a letter to 100s of places. And I was not aware of places that require students to bring their own money - we do not do that here - although of course if someone had their own money they would be considered favorably. And the second thing that threw me for a loop was the notion that one would get admitted to the program JUST because they had money. Anyway - I accept that I may have misjudged but I still will not be recruiting this person to my lab.

  5. Well, that is probably a good idea. :)

  6. Same anon here (industrialblvd on twitter) - ask your brother. There were direct admit students in MCB at Berkeley - identifiable because they didn't rotate as first year students. Just showed up & started working, sort of like a postdoc. I never pressed for details of the arrangement.

    On the other hand, I assume they had a specific interest or relationship with the lab they joined. You're right that the email you got is not targeted to your research at all, which would bug me, too. The guy is probably just that desperate.

  7. I like the


    kind of flattering. or intimidating.


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