Received Admission from One University, What’s Next?

Praveen asks:

How long does it take for grad schools to generally respond to packets and inform applicants if the admit is given / rejected / wait-listed? Also, let’s say if I have get an admit in 1 particular university, can I request or buy for more time from that university in order to wait for responses from other better universities?

Admission Decision

Colleges and universities in the U.S. have 2 types of deadlines:

  1. Hard Deadline (Specific Date)
  2. Rolling Admission

To better understand how the entire U.S. school admission process works, you first have to read the following article:

As you can see in that article, a graduate school can deny admission if a student doesn’t meet the minimum requirements set by the school.

If an admission committee is satisfied with a student’s profile, then the application will be forwarded to department for further review.

Admission Process

The department will start reviewing the applications only after a specified deadline (Hard Deadline) had been reached. Until then, the department will collect all the applications and compare the candidates’ profiles and select the best students from that roster.

If the department decides to give you an admission, the following steps happen in order:

  1. The department gives admission, informs the grad school.
  2. The grad school then checks if you have enough money (bank statement) to finance your studies
  3. The bank statement and your admission letter will then be forwarded to the international office (IO) or its equivalent unit
  4. The IO will issue an I-20 and send it to the grad school
  5. The grad school then sends your I-20 and admission acceptance letter to you by mail.

Almost all colleges and universities will update the progress of their admission activities through their online portal. Usually, things happen slowly and it will take a while for them to update your status.

If a college or university observes a rolling admission, then it will review an application as it receives one. In such case, it’s always better to apply as early as possible.

How Long?

It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to hear about your admission status. You can call the graduate school to check application status after sometime.

More Time?

Some colleges and universities in the U.S. will send you admission acceptance letters and ask you to send a deposit before then can send you an I-20.

Typically, these universities are private and/or are small schools. If you decide to attend a different university, the deposit your made is usually non-refundable.

If you receive an I-20, that doesn’t mean you have to attend that school. You can get admission from multiple universities and have multiple I-20s in your hand. There’s no issue here.

You just have to get a student visa from the university of your choice and inform them about it.

Note – Also, it’s always good idea to defer an admission at other universities after you get visa stamping. Can you guess why you have to defer the admission in other universities?


  1. Question on February 27, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    If you have been denied admissions from a particular grad school, is it possible to ask to be put on a waitlist if possible ??

    • HSB Counselor on February 28, 2013 at 1:09 AM

      Well in most circumstances, if your case has been put on hold, you will not hear from the University and admission decision would reflect as pending. Otherwise in case you don’t meet any specific admission requirement you may be offered a conditional admission. An admission denial could not be converted to a waitlist. In case you have heard back from all Universities, consider applying to some more with rolling deadlines.
      All the best!

  2. lightspinner on December 8, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Raghu, your posts have been the most helpful, supportive, and informative throughout my grad school process. Thank you from answering every mystery from GRE score conversions to the application process. You are the ultimate go-to! THANK YOU!!!

  3. Apurva Nataraj on June 29, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    I have applied to McMaster for MSc in Computer Science. My application status says ‘ELIGIBLE: App. available to potential supervisors.’

    what does this mean..?
    am i accepted, not accepted, yet to decide, how long will this statement stay on my online file..?


    • Ahsan on July 5, 2012 at 4:57 PM


      I got the same reply. Did they accept you or the status is still the same?


      • Apurva Nataraj on July 5, 2012 at 6:54 PM still says ‘ELIGIBLE: … …. …’
        its bringing a needle near and not pricking..sheesh..

  4. aparna on June 2, 2011 at 3:37 AM

    hii I am Aparna .. applied for fall 2011 mechanical
    i need sme help from u… Can u please tell me which is good among the these two universities coz iam unable to decide….

    1) Kansas State University ( no funding and thesis option )
    2) UNiversity of Houston ( bt the important thing is.. i was placed in non thesis option i can shift to thesis when i get a graduate assistantship later on and abt funding not yet stated)
    bt regarding UH ppl say when u can impress ur proff( which is not that diff) then u can get into thesis easily( but iam not sure of it)……. and also heard funding is reduced this semester by the gov….
    but if i opt kansas i can be on the safe side coz its thesis but unable to fix on among the two univ.
    So Suggest me on
    1) Which university to opt and y?
    2)How is the research there
    3) And do u have any idea abt the GA and oncampus jobs, funding available int that univ….
    4) How abt the future job aspects.
    5) If at all i opt UH is it easy to get GA or shud i better go for Kansas….

  5. Rajkamal on June 24, 2010 at 8:15 AM


    It is better to defer admissions even b4 the Visa interview because the VO will likely ask you how many I-20's have you applied for. For instance,let say you have applied for 3. At the moment when you say 3,The VO MIGHT refuse your Visa on the ground that "Your intent is not to study in the US". At that case,you need to show evidence that you have deferred the other 2 I-20s …. Hope this is right…



  6. Diego Paliz on February 7, 2010 at 5:45 AM

    Hello. I have a question. Is it possible to apply for the J1 visa from a country different than my country of residence? I live in Ecuador and I want to apply for J1 visa in Canada. Is it possible?

  7. Harish C S on January 27, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Why should i defer admissions even after getting Visa stamping? I cudn guess….

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