I am intended to apply to phD in USA (math).

The problem is that I have specialist degree in engineering (it's russian kind of degree) and now I am applying to master program (still in Russia) in mathematics. The question is following: can I apply to phD after my first grade as a master? Does it matter where I had graduated from, before getting master degree? I am a little ashamed of place I studied in and of my assessments there. If it was possible I would prefer applying to phD to not provide any information about my specialist degree and provide information only about the place I am currently studying (courses I've passed in first year, courses I am taking for second year, when I will have got diploma and so on).

I would appreciate any explanation.

1 Answer 1


It would be dishonest to omit your first place of study (and it would be a glaring omission on an application that would probably disqualify you).

In a PhD application you basically want to convince the admissions committee that you are capable of research or learning to do research. Therefore, if you show this potential in the process of obtaining a masters, the place you studied before your masters means a lot less.

That doesn't mean you can just ignore your first degree, but you are doing exactly what you should do if you want to get a PhD but have an unimpressive undergraduate record (due to grades, place of study, whatever): get into a masters program that will be more impressive and show your research potential. Try to get involved in publications and make connections with professors who can give you solid letters of recommendation.

Since you are changing fields slightly, you should also make sure that you take as a masters student all of the prerequisite coursework expected for applicants to the PhD program, particularly ones that might have been missed in an engineering-focused line of study. I can't give any suggestions for particular courses, but you should look at some representative programs you might be interested in for the future and make sure you have those courses covered.

  • Of course, I have already covered all courses and I need master degree more to confirm my knowledge than to obtain one. What about details of giving information? Will I have to provide copy of my first diploma, assessments and so on (probably, translated to english) or mentioning it in application form would be enough?
    – Vladislav
    Jul 9, 2017 at 16:04
  • And one more thing, If I want my first degree to mean almost nothing, should I apply after receiving master diploma or applying after first year of master would be okay?
    – Vladislav
    Jul 9, 2017 at 16:12
  • I don't think there's much harm in applying early, but you should finish your masters (that is, you could apply before your masters is complete for a start date after you finish; a typical application cycle for the US is applications due ~Dec 1st for admission the following Sept). It is quite possible that your application won't be strong because you haven't covered all the factors I mentioned in 1 year. It is likely you will have to produce undergraduate transcripts (course list, grades, GPA), but I wouldn't worry about it.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 9, 2017 at 16:45
  • Of course I meant applying the way I could finish masters. Thanks for your answer.
    – Vladislav
    Jul 9, 2017 at 16:48
  • Okay, just wanted to be clear. If you don't get accepted to a program you like the first time, you might have a stronger case in a year, because you will have an extra year of potential accomplishments to go on. I would suggest getting advice from someone at your current institution (particularly someone who would be involved in admitting PhD students there) concerning the strength of your application for the programs you want. (note: going into those details is going to be a bit off-topic for Academia.SE because it is too personalized)
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 9, 2017 at 17:36

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