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Ok so I am currently pursuing a Msc in Economics with a research distinction in Norway. I just finished my first year of studies and my grades are competitive. All A's except of a B. I have 2 more semesters to graduate meaning May 2020. Also, I have a Bachelors degree (3.42 gpa) in Finance from a well respected university in USA. Throughout my first year of Masters I took classes that revolved heavily in math topics that most universities require from students (time series analysis, multivariable calculus, econometrics, also im proficient in stata and R.)

My dream is to get accepted into a top 20 PhD program in USA and I was thinking if I should apply this upcoming fall or not. The deadline for most US university is Dec 15th 2019. I have done some research and I saw that universities require some research experience which is something that I dont have so far. I am going to acquire this experience in the final semester of my masters by presenting my thesis. Unfortunately, the application period will be closed by the time I present my thesis. So, should I wait out one year in order to present my thesis along with my application or should I apply this fall? Are the universities aware of such circumstances? I dont want to hurt my chances of acceptance but also I really dont like having to wait out another year before starting my PhD.

Thanks!

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Actually, it is the perfect time to apply for a start date of Fall 2020. Your background sounds pretty solid, but only the institutions will provide valid judgements on that. Waiting will only put off your possible acceptance by a year.

Don't worry about the current "lack" of research experience. It is pretty normal at your stage for applicants to US institutions.

Make your best case in any application. Show that you are a solid candidate with a high likelihood of success.

Note that most US doctoral programs are willing to accept candidates with only an undergraduate education. Of course at the top end of the scale the competition is fierce.

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