I am a third-year mathematics major from outside the US and intend to apply for a US or Canadian Phd program in statistics.

The issue I have is that I will be taking measure theory in my 4th year and I hear that this is very relevant to a stat grad program. This means if I were to apply for the Fall intake of 2024, Measure Theory and some other advanced math courses would not appear on my transcript. I could of course wait till Fall 2025, but I would like to start as early as possible.

Do you think the absence of these courses in the transcript I submit will affect my admission chances? (FYI: I have already done all my stat courses in my 1st and 2nd years and have good grades on all of them; I did stat for a minor)

Also, would it help if I took the Math GRE test to make up for missing courses of the 4th year? Thanks in advance. Any other PhD related advice is also most welcome :)

2 Answers 2


I can't speak for Canada, but in the US it should pose no difficulty. Admission is given based on a broad analysis of the likelihood of success. I realize that things have changed, but when I was a student (previous century), measure theory, even in pure math programs, was a grad level course.

I suggest you apply for the start date you prefer. If your transcript predicts success, irrespective of individual courses, and you have good letters of recommendation then you should be fine.

And you might have it mentioned somewhere what your final year courses are, perhaps in a letter of recommendation or a section in your CV.

There is no real reason to delay. Every student is in the same situation because of the lag between application for grad school and graduation from undergraduate. Just. Do. It.

  • Measure theory is a graduate level course, and in my opinion it should always be a graduate level course. Learning it at an early stage might not be so helpful.
    – Neuchâtel
    Oct 9, 2022 at 12:31
  • I see. Does the Math GRE factor into the admission decision at all? Would a statistics admission committee be impressed by a high math GRE or is it just down to a good GPA, recommendations (in my case, from pure math professors) and SOP?
    – JohnE
    Oct 10, 2022 at 6:42
  • Some places use GRE and some don't. A good score will be "a positive" if it is used at all.
    – Buffy
    Oct 10, 2022 at 11:23
  • A small addition on my transcript. Since I will not have finished my program by the time I apply, my transcript will read "incomplete". Would a scan of this still be acceptable to an admissions committee? On a related note, do I need to have a physical copy of my "complete" transcript in hand when I get enrolled at the PhD program? How else would they verify that I have actually completed my degree?
    – JohnE
    Nov 7, 2022 at 22:02

Missing a few relevant courses should not be a problem as long as you meet the prerequisite requirements. You can also take measure theory at graduate school as well or learn it yourself.

Statistics graduate programs could range from relevant to extremely irrelevant to measure theory. It is helpful for some areas such as stochastic processes, but for many, probably you will never touch measure theory, and it is fine.

Many (applied) statistics professors I know who have done a great job as a researcher only use human language to understand statistics, and some of them have never learnt measure theory before.

In my opinion, measure theory is quite a beautiful subject. It will make sense of many concepts you learnt in a measure-theoretic probabily course; however,learning measure theory too early has a (really) big disadvantage. It is possible that after mastering measure theory, it will be harder for you to see the real world the way it is and you somehow will get stuck there for a while.

I wish I could have erased the part of measure theory I learnt temporarily, by the way.

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