I'm an Australian maths undergraduate student, and our academic year ends at the beginning of December. I understand that PhDs in the USA (and elsewhere?) generally start before this time, about September. So, if I want to pursue a PhD overseas, I have a long time to kill in between my undergrad and postgrad degrees.
Consequently I've been investigating the possibility of cramming the remainder of my undergraduate degree into one fewer semester, so that I can graduate at the beginning of July (2014), just in time to start a PhD overseas.
However, this would mean I would have to send out applications in December this year, before I have actually finished my degree. I am particularly concerned because in Australia the last year of an undergraduate maths degree is an "honours" year, which comprises the main research component and the most serious coursework.
Does anyone have advice or experience?
Would I be substantially more competitive for a top university if I delayed for a year and had an honours thesis and good results from many advanced classes under my belt, compared to applying early and having only a promise of an honours thesis? Or, would it be a minor issue with good letters of recommendation?