COGDOP Rules on Acceptance of Offers of Admission and Financial Aid
Most graduate programs in psychology and associated fields accept students only for fall admission. However, if you are interested in winter, spring, or summer admission, you should check the application information for the department to which you are applying.
You may make as many applications as you wish, but do not apply for an appointment that you would not consider accepting. Informal notification is often sent by the department, or by an individual who has funds for a research assistant. If you receive and accept such an offer, you may relax, confident that you will eventually receive formal notification of your admission to the graduate school and, if applicable, of your appointment as an assistant. Scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, traineeships, and other stipends for the following academic year are normally offered before April 1.
You may get more than one offer before April 15 and may receive a few statements that you are listed as an alternate. In fairness to the graduate programs, as well as the other applicants seeking admission, you are strongly urged not to hold more than one offer pending at a time. To protect a candidate against premature decisions, graduate schools currently have agreed to allow the applicant until April 15 for a final decision. This is in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States in 1965 and further modified by the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP) in 1981. The 1965 resolution of the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States was supported by 317 universities and colleges and by the directors of four granting agencies, both public and private. It reads as follows:
Acceptance of an offer of financial aid (such as graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship) for the next academic year by an actual or prospective graduate student completes an agreement which both student and graduate school expect to honor. In those instances in which the student accepts the offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15.
However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institution and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer.
In 1981, COGDOP modified the resolution regarding offering and accepting financial aid after April 15:
An acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to solicit or accept another offer. Offers made after April 15 must include the proviso that the offer is void if acceptance of a previous offer from a department accepting this resolution is in force on that date. These rules are binding on all persons acting on behalf of the offering institution.
In November 1988, the Board of Directors of COGDOP passed the following motion:
That the currently prevailing procedures dealing with the offering and acceptance of financial aid are intended to cover graduate admissions as well as offers of financial aid. To protect candidates against the need to make premature decisions, graduate programs should allow applicants until April 15 to make final decisions.
Accepting an Offer
We suggest the following procedures in helping you to make a decision:
1. As soon as you have two offers, decide which is the better one for you and politely refuse the other.
2. Repeat this comparison and decision as you receive each new offer.
3. Terminate the process as soon as you get a satisfactory offer from the school you prefer. Accept that offer verbally and in writing and advise the other schools of your decision. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness in opening the way for another student.
4. On occasion you may be pressured to accept an offer before April 15. In the event that you have accepted such an offer, you should be fully aware that you have the right to resign the original acceptance before April 15 to take an alternative offer.
5. When you have voluntarily accepted an appointment, even prior to the April 15 date, do not take your obligation lightly. You are committed to that acceptance. Attempts to be released from an agreement may spoil your reputation with all of the institutions involved and with your sponsors.
6. If you receive no offers by April 15, there is still a possibility that you may be admitted at a later time. Vacancies occasionally occur as grants are announced. The APA Education Directorate publishes a list of remaining openings in May. You may write to the Directorate to receive a copy of this list. Information on graduate openings will be posted on the APA Web site (http://www.apa.org) by early May.