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I am re-taking a course I was registered to during a somewhat rocky exchange semester. I was too far behind on the assignments to get a good grade, and chose to wait and re-register now, two years later, after having graduated.

The subject is quite central to my field, and it is one of the hardest and most useful courses I have taken during my studies.

Assuming that I get the good grade I am aiming for this time, will this delay in passing the course be seen negatively in a PhD application, since the committee will think I have had much longer to learn the material, and presumably failed to get a good grade the first time?

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  • Where are you applying for study? US? France? Other?
    – Buffy
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 20:11
  • @Buffy I will apply to several places, most probably in Europe, not sure yet. It won't be this year, as I want to improve my chances.
    – user39012
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 20:21
  • It's not like you can change the fact that you had to retake it, so what would you do with the information if we did say it would be a negative? Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 21:51
  • @AzorAhai--hehim If it were really a negative, I might avoid re-taking it. I don't technically need that grade since I've already graduated.
    – user39012
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 6:52
  • But presuming you can do better now, won't any grade now be better than a drop? Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 16:37

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I doubt that it would be seen negatively by most reviewers, but who can speak for everyone. It shows some evidence of seriousness.

But it might not be necessary, in fact, especially if this is for application to a US institution where the acceptance is based on an overall assessment of the likelihood of success without individual small things having much effect. If you have letters of recommendation predicting your success then it probably isn't necessary to retake the course.

But the "hardest and most useful" comment suggests that it might be worth it.

But if you are ready to make application now and the course would delay that, then there is no reason you can't do both. Send off a few applications and also register for the course.


Caveat: In France things might be different, especially if you have a masters and not just a bachelors. But in the US you would likely have an opportunity to learn the required material as part of early doctoral studies.

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