Admission is Under Review
This document is originally written by Ferdous Hossain, MSc in Biostatistics (McGill University).
A usual phenomenon for prospective students who apply online in different universities abroad, with some variations like 'in review', 'in assessment', 'released to program', 'processing has begun', 'under evaluation', blah blah etc., mostly seen after some days of the application submission deadline. And few possible explanations (for curious applicants) of these terms would be 'your application is in review for admission consideration', 'we are assessing your application', 'application passed to the program committee for decision', 'we have started the processing', 'admission committee is evaluating your file', etc, etc. It's more typical when you are seeing your application in this same state for more than two-three months (if you're not the luckiest applicant on their list) and a bit irritating to resolve your curiosity. Are they really taking that heavy time to review your file? 'NO'.
This explanation fits well for prospective graduate students. Completion of assessment/evaluation of a grad student file does not take more than 28-35 working days (depending on the University and the number of applicants in the competition) but you may not be notified of the decision even after five months!
When your application first changed into the state of 'under review', it's likely that the graduate committee commence sorting, scoring and ranking your application file based on the factors like overall CGPA, relevant course-wise GPA, recommendation/reference letters, teaching/research/work experience, proceedings/publications, language proficiency, extra-curricular activities etc. Each applicant is ranked and the order/weight of the factors may be different in different Universities/programs. Based on the rank, they first throw a decision to the first lot (suppose to the first 20 students ranked in 1-20 if their available seats for this year is 20). As long as you fulfill all the minimum requirements, you obviously have a rank within 28-35 days after beginning the assessment but you will be still in review state until they get the response from all the students from the lot before your rank. It is not unlikely that you are 'in the review' state, however, some of the applicants in the same program already got their admission offer with a strict time range for accepting the offer, but you never know that. Some of the candidates from the first lot may reject the offer, then the graduate coordinator would throw another notification for the second lot considering the ranking serials (suppose 7 applicants of the first lot rejected the offer, then second lot consisting rank 21-27 will be offered with another time range to accept the offer). An applicant will be in review state until and unless all the quota of that 20 seats filled up, i.e. exactly any 20 students accepted the offer from the lots serially. So keep patience while you're in the state of 'under review' and hope for the best, your turn may be very close, with an offer letter or a regret letter.