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I'm an international student studying math and physics in an American university relatively highly ranked in terms of math. I'm currently a junior, and I'm going to focus on doing research on a certain theoretical physics topic from this summer. I've exhausted advanced grad courses offered in my university, and I don't think taking any more courses will enhance my chance in admission for math PhD programs in the U.S. Since my school doesn't have a professor working on the topic of my interest, I'm considering to work for the next year on research under the guidance of a professor, who is internationally renowned for his work in the topic, in my native country.

My concern is that there is a rumor that admission is more difficult for already graduated students. Does this thing, if true, apply to me? I'm sure master's students are demanded more, but how about me? Even though I will be in undergrad for three years only, I'm afraid they may consider me as someone who has a year of "advantage." On the other hand, I'm sure graduating a semester early doesn't affect a lot, as stated by Paul Garrett in a similar post. Could I assume Paul Garrett's comment apply to me as well? If there is an adverse effect, I can just be a student in name only for another semester or two and meanwhile do a research in my country.

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    Have you asked your department if you could enroll for one credit of independent study? Is there a professor who would oversee your work remotely? – aparente001 Mar 30 '17 at 4:29
  • I haven't asked it yet; however, I'm sure I can find one if that's necessary. – Math.StackExchange Mar 30 '17 at 16:18
  • Go for it, seems like a great opportunity! No, it won't hurt you with regards to graduate admissions. – 1 More Anonymous Mathematician Apr 8 '17 at 15:49
  • Graduating a year early is a pretty big life decision. I wouldn't want to make such a decision on the basis of a two-sentence recommendation from some anonymous person on the internet. – David Richerby Apr 8 '17 at 22:05
  • It sounds good as long as your research under the professor is educational for you and not just a way of taking advantage of you. – Jacob Murray Wakem Apr 14 '17 at 2:45

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