I am currently a master student at UFMG, a university in Brazil. I am at my last semester (out of 4) and, due to the pandemics, it was given to us the possibility to extend our study for one semester.

Here goes some details: I'm studying Homotopy Type Theory (HoTT), I have a scholarship, I'm a bachelor in Physics, my grades are OK, I have completed my credits and the only thing remaining to get my master degree is to finish a dissertation. I have attended to graduate courses such as Advanced Algebra, Complex Analysis, Algebraic Topology and some others less relevant ones.

I can finish everything in the usual time if I want to, but I really would like to use the extra time given to us to read more interesting stuff, attend to some extra advanced classes, prepare myself a little bit more to engage in a PhD.

The thing is: what do you think is, in general, more valuable in regards to a PhD admission process, to finish all my duties in the usual time or to have some extra advanced classes in my transcript?

For instance, my department will offer a course on Homotopy Theory, which is quite relevant for the area I am currently studying (HoTT).

Thank you.

2 Answers 2


I suppose it might vary between different countries, and I have no idea how things work in Brazil. Here in Europe, extra classes would probably have some value, while the fact that you finished earlier - not so much. If you could start some actual research activity it would also be quite helpful in your application.

Another aspect is that when applying for a PhD you might need reference letters from established academics, and maybe you could use this extra time to impress someone and make sure the letter you'll get will be stronger.

Of course, all this neglect the financial aspect of this decision, but since you mention you have a scholarship, maybe this won't be a problem for you.


You could also consider a hybrid plan, though I don't know if it is possible where you are. But some places you apply for doctoral studies before you finish your earlier degree. You might be able to do that, depending on timing, and make a final decision depending on what you hear from places you apply to. If it looks promising, just file for graduation. Otherwise plan on spending the additional time on some other appropriate tasks. Research is good, as is advanced coursework.

In the US, at least, it is typical to apply for a doctorate with still about a year to go in the bachelors. Decisions are contingent on successful completion, of course. Similar for those completing a masters prior to the doctorate.

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