Writing a Graduate School Rejection Letter

Declining a Grad School Offer

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You've succeeded! After years earning a high GPA, getting research experience, developing relationships with faculty, studying for the GRE, wrestling with grad school admissions essays, getting reference letters, and interviewing for grad school, you made it in. But if you don't want to attend the school, you'll have to consider writing a graduate school rejection letter.

It may seem odd to be writing a letter rejecting the school; after all, you wanted to get in.

Perhaps it was not your first choice, or you found a better fit. There's nothing wrong in declining the offer. Just make sure to take action and be prompt in your response.

Tips on Declining a Grad School Offer

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Respond soon. Once you know the school is out, do not delay. Once you give up your spot, it may open it up for someone else who really wants to attend that college or university. Plus, it looks bad not to respond at all -- especially because the admissions committee devoted their time to evaluating your credentials.
  • Keep it short. You don't owe the university or college an explanation; just politely and briefly decline the offer (see the template below for wording ideas).
  • Thank them. You may want to thank the admissions committee for their time. You never know when you may encounter one of the members during your career, so keep it nice.
  • Don't disclose more than you need to. You are not responsible for telling the school which college or university you will be attending. They may ask, but likely not. 
  • Check it off. You may not need to write a letter at all -- some universities and colleges let you check a box declining their offer or do it with a few clicks online.

Thanks, But No Thanks

After you are done carefully considering all of your options and you're ready to decline the offer, how exactly do you do that?

Responding with a short grad school rejection letter will do. This can be an email or a printed letter.

Try something along the lines of the following.

Dear Dr. Smith (or Admissions Committee):

I am writing in response to your offer of admission to the Clinical Psychology program at Graduate University. I appreciate your interest in me, but I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting your offer of admission. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Rebecca R. Student

Remember to be polite. Academia is a very small world. You likely will encounter faculty and students from that program sometime during your career. If your message declining the offer of admission is rude, you may be remembered for the wrong reasons. 

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Your Citation
Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "Writing a Graduate School Rejection Letter." ThoughtCo, Aug. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/sample-email-declining-graduate-program-admission-1685886. Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. (2017, August 4). Writing a Graduate School Rejection Letter. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sample-email-declining-graduate-program-admission-1685886 Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "Writing a Graduate School Rejection Letter." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sample-email-declining-graduate-program-admission-1685886 (accessed December 18, 2017).