I missed the PhD application deadline (Physics), and apart from applying late, what can I do if I get no position and I have to wait another year?

I would like to keep doing what I was doing for the Master thesis, and so spend a good amount of time staying in research somehow, so I won't feel like I'm wasting my time. Are there some alternative paths to follow?

  • 3
    find a research post, or a job in McDonalds, then make sure the next application is early...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 19:35
  • I have a steady part time job already and in a couple of weeks I'm finishing my master. It's not that I didn't apply, I just can't apply. Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 20:37
  • 1
    If, as you say, "you can't apply" then you did not really "miss" this deadline...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 20:39
  • I missed it in relation with my master thesis being handed in late, better now? Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 20:44
  • 1
    If they think you had a valid reason for submitting your Master thesis late then they may make an exception, on the other hand they may look at the reason and not make an exception.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


Some universities will let you take classes as an un-matriculated student. But you need some (personal) funding for this.

Some laboratories might hire you as a low level lab technician or assistant. This would give you some funding and a bit of experience.

Either of the above can give you contacts that might be useful in the future.

In the rarer case, you might be able to do both. Hire on at a university lab that also lets you take a few courses as a perk.


I'm going to guess you're based in the US, because that's the biggest country with application deadlines. The easiest alternative is to apply to a PhD program that doesn't have application deadlines, and accept students throughout the year. As far as I know, this is actually the dominant model for PhD students in the rest of the world, with the US as the biggest exception (some Canadian & UK universities also have deadlines). All you need to do is convince a supervisor to accept you, and find the funding somewhere.


Eligible candidates can enrol and start their PhD at any time of year. If you are a New Zealand student, you must enrol within 3 months of your unconditional offer. If you are an international student, you must enrol in the programme within 6 months of your unconditional offer.

  • I am based in Europe, where I live the applications are once a year. Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 13:35

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