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I am from a poor country in Asia . I will apply for PhD positions in pure mathematics in USA in the upcoming year. I completed my masters in mathematics in June 2020 but I am still not able to find a PhD position. I am not applying for PhD positions in my home country due to systematic racism by seniors and peers in my masters and bachelors. It is heartbreaking!

My masters thesis advisor never replied to my e-mails after giving me a research paper to study. She was from another institute than the institute from which I did masters and I contacted her because no one in my institute was specialized in the branch I wanted to study further. So, I did my thesis by myself and got 9 grade out of maximum 10. I visited her institute in January 2020 and she gave me a research paper to study and after that she never replied to any of my e-mails or calls. It was very much stressful.

I have learnt on this site only( I was reading some old posts about 6 months ago) that if someone doesn't has a recommendation letter from their master thesis supervisor then it can be very difficult for them to get a PhD admission( It is considered a very big red flag), much less in a country like $USA$. I can take a recommendation letter from a professor who taught me in Bachelors degree and she taught me 4 different courses and she replied in affirmatively that she can write a strong recommendation letter.

So, should I consider applying to USA, Poland and Chechia without having a recommendation from a master thesis advisor or it will be a complete waste of time?

Kindly let me know!

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    Do you have the opportunity to visit your masters advisor in person?
    – Buffy
    Mar 7 at 15:20
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    What you describe as you advisor, doesn't sound to me like she really 'advised' you or had anything to do with completing your masters. Is that correct? If so, I don't understand how you were able to complete the degree. Can you clarify? Someone must have given you advice and/or signed off on your completion.
    – Buffy
    Mar 7 at 15:23
  • @Buffy Another professor but from my maths department was made the dummy supervisor and he told me that I should write his name as thesis advisor while giving to the committee . But he neither advised me for the thesis or had a look at it.
    – user157501
    Mar 7 at 17:50
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    So you were given a degree without anyone looking at your thesis?
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 7 at 19:10
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    @XZYZ How did they assess the quality of your thesis if they are so unfamiliar with your branch that none of them could supervise you?
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 8 at 12:21

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There may be no solution that involves your (not) advisor. She doesn't know enough about you to give a convincing letter. Hopefully there are other faculty at your own institution that you have worked with and can honestly make a prediction about the likelihood of your success in doctoral study and thereafter. That is more important, actually, than that it come from your advisor. While the situation is a bit odd, others who have been successful have some odd circumstances as well.

But, it is what it is. There is no reason not to make application. If other things are good then it may not be a serious issue. Be prepared to discuss the circumstances when asked, however. And if someone can attest to your explanation, such as a department head/chair, all the better.

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