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I will be applying to do a PhD in Applied Mathematics, and have been advised by some professors to consider doing a second masters degree if I do not get in. I have also approached researchers about collaborating on projects with them to improve my profile, and is currently working on one.

I was wondering: if I fail to get into a PhD program, would it be more beneficial for my next application if I enroll in a second masters degree, or would it be better to continue doing research projects?

Edit: Both Suresh and JeffE gave good advice, but I have some points to add.

  1. I am already actively doing research with the possibility of publication (will submit but peer review process is iffy).

  2. Of course, if I am already doing research with well-known faculty collaborators who will write strong letters of recommendation, there is no need to go for a second masters. But would it be realistic to count on a second masters for the opportunity to work with well-known faculty? (IMHO finding supervisors is quite a crapshoot)

I suppose there are quite a few PhD applicants like me: did a masters, but did not excel. Should they try to get research experience with academic collaborators or go for second masters? (there might not be a right or clear cut answer)

1 Answer 1

I don't know anything about applied math Ph.D programs. But extrapolating from TCS programs, getting more research experience (and some concrete results) would definitely help. While a second MS doesn't help directly, it helps indirectly because

  • you don't have a gap in your resume
  • you automatically are placed in an environment where you can approach researchers to work on projects with them.