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I have a number of Arabic friends applying to graduate school and due to their situation, they tell me they intend to apply and then get a deferment for the next year. I am curious how common it is for grad schools to allow this.

I ask this because I am considering applying to PhD program in statistics and I'm starting a Master's program this fall. My GRE scores will expire at the end of the year and so I am considering applying to PhD programs this fall (with the expectation of deferring acceptance for the following year, which will be right after I get my Masters).

Most of the schools I look at seem to discourage deferment, and the only reason why I can think maybe the Arabic students don't run into difficulties is b/c they don't require any funding (they tend to be on the KSA scholarships).

Just curious if anyone can give me a realistic idea of how grad schools generally deal with deferments?

TIA, Matt

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I think the general trend for deferrals is to make them available, but not automatic—usually, you have to explain exactly why you want the deferral, and what you plan to do in the intervening time. For example, doing a volunteer year (for example, for a Peace Corps-like organization) or accepting a prestigious international fellowship are usually acceptable reasons for a deferral. On the other hand, accepting a job offer for a year would normally not be considered grounds for a deferral. However, I think this is a policy that differs from department to department and institution to institution, so definitely check with them first!

The reason for this is that deferrals impact two admission classes: the current one, as well as the following one. You can't admit extra students, because you have the deferring students from the present year, plus you're now "short" a student for the new incoming class.

  • Thank-you: that was pretty much my impression. I've been in academics for awhile and can't remember ever hearing a student granted a deferral. However b/c all of these students acted like it was commonplace, I naturally wondered if things might have changed. – Matt Brenneman May 20 '14 at 18:10
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    @MattBrenneman: Immigration might be a different issue altogether—it's certainly a significant obstacle for students from many countries these days, and could also be an "acceptable" reason to defer. (Depends on the school.) – aeismail May 20 '14 at 18:20

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