A few years ago I received a Bachelor's in Computer Science and I'm planning to return to school as a non-degree student. I'd like to complete prerequisite courses for a PhD program in Mathematics including supplemental graduate level math courses. As a non-degree student I would complete core courses such as abstract algebra, analysis, linear algebra, and topology. Additionally I would take the general GRE with the math subject test, and work towards letters of recommendation. How effective is the completion of prerequisites outside of an undergraduate to satisfy admission requirements for a PhD program?

  • As a non-degree student you aren't completing PhD program requirements. You're taking courses which will not transfer.
    – user133933
    Mar 11, 2021 at 22:52
  • 3
    @Libor, Do you mean course requirements within the PhD itself? or prerequisites for applying? As a non-degree student my intention is to complete prerequisites for the program not satisfy internal requirements.
    – jA5q
    Mar 11, 2021 at 22:55
  • 1
    @Libor, why won't they transfer? If there is a transcript from a university, they should be fine.
    – Buffy
    Mar 11, 2021 at 22:58
  • @jA5q Sounds good then - just making sure you knew you weren't just doing the first year of your PhD. Make sure you take any opportunities you have to do research work - that's what's more important than coursework for your PhD admission.
    – user133933
    Mar 11, 2021 at 23:01
  • I'd like to complete prerequisite courses for a PhD program in Mathematics including supplemental graduate level math courses. ... How effective is completing PhD program prerequisites separate of an undergraduate degree? Your only stated goal is to complete courses, to which I imagine completing courses to be a very effective way of achieving that goal. Did you leave something out of your post? Mar 11, 2021 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


There isn't any issue about time (or age, in most places). If you attend an accredited university for your coursework and get grades like any other student then you should be fine, provided that they will provide a transcript of what you have done when you apply later to a degree program.

But doing online courses or unaccredited work is much chancier and you would then need some other way to assure the new institution that you have the required background.

But ask the registrar of the place where you will take courses about such things (grades, transcripts) to be sure.

It is also very advantageous if you make a positive impression on the faculty giving those courses, since your original professors may not remember much about you and you will want letters of recommendation.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .