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I'm in a 3 year pure math BSc in Europe, currently on my 5th semester, definitely can graduate by the end of the spring semester of 2022. I have heard in this SE that graduating earlier than planned (for example in 3 years in the US) is only impressive to yourself, but what about intentionally delaying my graduation, would it be detrimental for grad school considerations?

What I mean is fulfilling all requirements of graduation (all mandatory subjects, credit requirements, thesis) without "clicking the I graduated! button". I have not checked the technical details about this, as it would require talking to my coordinator/advisor and I'm still in the exploratory phase about this idea.

My (probably very very dumb) reasoning is that I want to retake some very important classes, real analysis, ODE, differential geometry. I also realized that I want to take measure theory which is only offered in the fall semester.

If I were to do this, I might extend by a semester..., maybe two since most programs start in fall anyway.

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  • I cannot speak for perceptions in the UK, but in the US few grad admissions people would perceive taking 4 years as "delayed", considering that that's the standard time here. And taking more intro-grad-level courses prior to actual grad school is always a good choice. Jan 1, 2022 at 21:32
  • Depending on career goals it might be a problem if it leaves you with a gap before starting the next stage. I assume you want an academic career if measure theory is on your horizon. Why do you want to retake courses????
    – Buffy
    Jan 1, 2022 at 21:32
  • @paulgarrett, the UK and US bachelors are very different. Much more specialized in UK and Europe generally than in US.
    – Buffy
    Jan 1, 2022 at 21:34
  • @Buffy, yes, to some degree I understand the difference. But, still, I'd advocate not "doing the minimum" in any context. :) Jan 1, 2022 at 21:35
  • @Buffy actually my line of reasoning is I want an analyst job in finance/ related, which requires a lot of probability theory/stochastics. I am currently under the impression that I am hiding so much under the carpet if I don't have measure theory under my belt. Also I want to retake classes because I am more confident with my mathematical abilities now, while before I felt I was not ready (especially because of online education). I thought having A's in those important subjects would help me a lot. Jan 1, 2022 at 21:40

3 Answers 3

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If you want a job in industry, I suggest that you get in the market and see what options you have there. You can decide that you have good enough options to jump sooner or that, from what you learn, you should 'bulk up' your resume somewhat.

But, there is no reason that you can't "relearn" the stuff from older courses without retaking them. If you have grades enough to graduate you have probably learned enough to continue on your own. And those online courses still exist if you want something like lectures.

I think that the finance industry is probably going to start out any new hire in a probationary position, regardless of their grades and such. I can't speak for the validity of measure theory for finance as my (long ago) course was very theoretical and not available to undergrads. Great course, but you'd have to be sure that it actually has application.

So, I suggest a "dual" track. Work so that you can go either way if you come to a fork in the road. Make the decision when you need to.


If you were headed to grad school instead, I'd suggest that you don't delay. You can take measure theory there, I suspect (certainly true in US, anyway).

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If you would like to take some additional courses (or re-take some you have already taken) then it is okay to delay graduation to do so. Just bear in mind that there is an opportunity cost to this decision, since the time spent on those courses is time not spent gaining experience in a graduate program or in the workforce. Since your goal (which you mention in comments) is to upskill in probability theory/stochastic modelling, it is perfectly reasonable for you to take or re-take formal courses for this purpose. I recommend augmenting this by learning how to program in at least one commonly used statistical programming language (e.g., R, Python, SAS). I would be surprised if a relatively short period of re-learning is held against you by any admissions committee, even if it delays your graduation.

Aside from bearing in mind opportunity costs, another thing to be cognisant of is the possibility that you may be experiencing trepidation about leaving the comfort and safety of your existing degree program for the uncertainty of graduate school or the workforce. Sometimes students who are approaching the end of their degree program experience fear of undertaking new challenges, and this can cause them to shy away from progression to the next step in their career. If you find you are delaying graduation excessively (e.g., by more than a year) then this may be an indication that you should self-reflect on your long-term goals and your feelings about taking the leap into the next stage of your career.

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  • And suppose one is in the condition described on your 2nd paragraph, what should one do? Jan 2, 2022 at 22:35
  • In that latter situation, I think you would need to push yourself to take the uncomfortable step into the workforce. More generally, it would also be worth taking action to push yourself outside your comfort zone more often, to adjust to being able to undertake these kinds of actions.
    – Ben
    Jan 2, 2022 at 23:00
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If you intentionally delay your graduation, people might question your ability to make good financial decisions.

That will not stop professors from selecting you as a graduate student. After all, choosing to be a professor is often a poor financial decision too.

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