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I'm sorry if there are similar posts, I had a look and couldn't find something exactly similar.

I will be starting my final year of Bachelor (in the UK), and I am going to start applying for an integrated MS/PhD in mathematics (in the US). Recently, I started thinking about going for a gap year before starting with my graduate studies, and I found an interesting (but very selective) internship which might be interesting.

However, my problem is, I do not know how the admissions process works for the internship. So I might end up getting an answer after having sent my PhD applications. So my question is: is it possible in some universities to ask for a "possible" defferal of admission? Conditional on a third factor?

PS: the universities I am applying for are UC Berkeley, and UCLA. I was thinking of emailing them but thought maybe someone would already have been in a similar situation here - and could maybe give me some advice :)

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  • I don't know math, but deferrals are rare, although it sounds like you might have a good enough reason to get one. But I've never heard of asking for one until you need one. Aug 31, 2020 at 14:33
  • "Asking for one until I need one" as in: maybe I should apply for PhD the normal way, and then if I get accepted to both the PhD and the internship (fingers crossed), I then ask for a deferral?
    – Azur
    Aug 31, 2020 at 14:35
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    That's what I'd do, only just not answering because I'm not in math. Aug 31, 2020 at 14:35
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    There certainly is a risk that, if you state you really want to start Fall 2022, that the department might well come back with 'apply next year then'. That said, there remains plenty of uncertainty out there.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 31, 2020 at 14:45
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    Many universities have official policies on deferrals available on their websites.
    – GoodDeeds
    Aug 31, 2020 at 15:13

2 Answers 2

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You can always ask, but as a committee member I would probably vote against such an application unless the candidate is exceptionally good. When departments evaluate openings for PhD programs, they have needs they seek to fill: For teaching assistant positions, to keep the strength of a program, to spend money they might have, to have enough students in graduate classes, etc. All of these needs are timely: They need to be satisfied in the upcoming academic year. So the department is looking for people for next year, not the year after: There will be another crop of applicants to consider for the year after. So unless there are really compelling reasons to admit someone now knowing that they may or may not show up only a year later, departments will generally want to admit people they know will actually come.

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  • Alright, thank you for your answer :) That makes sense
    – Azur
    Aug 31, 2020 at 18:59
  • You are saying this person should still apply to both, correct? This is confusing because departments always admit people without knowing if they will come.
    – Dawn
    Aug 31, 2020 at 20:42
  • Right, but if I have the choice between someone who says that they might not come and someone who says no such thing, I'd admit the latter. Aug 31, 2020 at 23:22
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You should not apply for "potential" deferred admission because it will disadvantage you in the process. You should apply for both graduate school (multiple schools) and for the internship. You are under no obligation to let anyone know about your other applications; it is assumed that you will be applying to multiple places. Then, if you are lucky enough to get both, you can have a conversation about the possibility of deferral.

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