Currently, I am a M.S. student in Applied Mathematics division, and I will graduate in the coming Dec, 2014. But I want to apply to a PhD. program to continue my study. But I have a complicated situation:

  1. I had a bachelor's degree in software engineering outside US with GPA 3.7. But I'm pursing a M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics in a US college with GPA 3.6, the reason I am doing this is because I want to improve my mathematical background, and prepare for research oriented program in the future.
  2. My native language is non-English, and my English skills are not that strong. I didn't have a competitive GRE test.
  3. But I had some research experiences, both in and outside US. And almost all the research is either direct with national research labs or collaborate with them. However, I have no academic publications yet.

Is it possible for me to seek PhD in the future? I would like to go for it, but it seems more and more professors and universities focus on someone with higher scores and better publication record.

  • 1
    Is the MS degree you're pursueinga research oriented or a terminal masters? Also, why you don't have publication record while you had research experience?
    – Nobody
    Jul 29 '14 at 2:37

Is it possible for me to seek PhD in the future?

Yes. It is possible to seek a PhD at any point in one's life, although at some point you will shift over into the "unconventional student" category.

Some universities/faculty do tend to overlook unconventional students. However, if you keep publishing articles, learning new skills (and demonstrating them), and staying up to date on the research in your field (and demonstrating that you have), then you'll be in a good position to get accepted by the more open-minded universities whenever you decide to apply.


I want to apply a PhD. degree to continue my study.

I am going to assume that you are seeking a PhD in applied mathematics.

In regards to your first point, seeking a masters prior to a PhD is a good way to improve your skill set. Does the program you are currently enrolled in offer research opportunities as a graduate assistant?

My native language is non-English, and my English skill is not that strong. I didn't have a competitive GRE test.

Each school treats the GRE differently. Some schools will use low GRE scores and low grades as a filtering mechanism to weed out unqualified individuals. So, a low score on one part part of the GRE is not necessarily going to prevent you from being accepted.

If you know that writing is the weakest point of your application, there are a few steps you can take. Have friends/classmates/professors review your personal statement. Alternatively, you can acknowledge that your English skills are low but you are taking steps to remedy this.

As for publishing, I have heard differing opinions on this issue. Some people will have published when they applied and others will not. Personally, I will be trying to have at least two papers in progress when I apply for my PhD.

Is that possible for me to seek PhD degree in the future?

The short answer is yes. Based on your research experience and academic background, I can see no reason (at least at the present) why you wouldn't be admitted.

  • One typical reason I try to seek a CS PhD degree, because I know much CS than AM. And one big reason I am seeking CS because it has more funding opportunities.
    – Kimmi
    Jul 28 '14 at 20:58

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