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I've read from past questions and answers on this site, namely an answer by JeffE, that anyone with more than 12 months of full-time graduate study, MS or PhD, is considered too late of an applicant, unless there is a significant change of field.

What if my undergrad degree was not in mathematics, but I have an MS degree in math, and am looking to apply to PhD programs in math? Would my MS degree be considered something equivalent to an undergrad / first degree in math, and thus make my application eligible for a review by the panelists?

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The NSF revised the eligibility criteria in 2016. As of 2017, the only way you can have previous graduate study of more than a year or have earned a graduate degree and retain eligibility for an NSF graduate fellowship is if you have had a two-year or longer break before November 1 of the year in which you apply.

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If you have had 12 months of graduate study, then no, you are not eligible, regardless of your undergraduate degree.

Note: there are some exceptions to this (I think they have some language in there for exceptions), but I wouldn't bet on it.

  • There is an important exception: coming back to studies after an extended period. – aeismail Sep 12 '17 at 21:40
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Contact your NSF program director. Ultimately it will be up to him or her as to whether your situation is covered, and since there are exceptions and loopholes and ever-changing requirements, it will be best to hear it from the one that counts.

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