First of all, I should note here that I was never interested in Math when I was in high school and always struggled with it. So, I took a break for about 4 years and worked till I got married and moved to the US which was when I decided to enroll in a community college. I started with Precalculus, and I had the best teacher anyone could possibly have and I realized that there was so much more Math that I wanted to learn, yada yada yada. So I did my first 2 years in the community college with straight A's and transferred to Rutgers, and since then I've only taken upper level Math, Physics (my minor), and Econ classes. I know that my success is seemingly mediocre but I do believe that I've made enormous progress. I have always tried to take the most challenging classes (that I've been allowed to take) and while that is a risk that hasn't always paid off, I have no regrets because every one of those classes has made me a better mathematician. I have the woman/minority thing going for me, but I don't think it makes a substantial change. Also, I have been doing this while managing a family (I'm married and I have some dependents who are not kids). I pay non-resident tuition which is a ridiculous amount and my husband and I have worked MANY part-time jobs for the last 2 years to pay it all off without taking any loans. I am a senior at a Rutgers and I am very keen on applying for a Math PhD, but I understand that I might not have the necessary stats, YET. I have no research experience or graduate courses, and took a couple of honors classes in which I did not receive A's.

I also did a "reading program" with a grad student in Advanced Field Theory and Set Theory, but I don't receive credit for it, so I'm not sure that they count.

In my next/last semester, I will be taking Honors Analysis II and Honors Algebra II, Differential Geometry, and Logic.

Also, I BOMBED the Math GRE subject test-the only why I can explain it is that I had 30 seconds to fill in all the answers on the scantron sheet after doing all the scratchwork elsewhere so maybe I messed something up.

So, my question is this: I really want to pursue a PhD in Math, and I think I need just a little more time and preparation to be a more competitive applicant. Because of family reasons, I can't move too far away from where I live. Rutgers doesn't offer a traditional M.S. option, so I was wondering if i could maybe apply for a Masters at CUNY or one of the decent colleges around me, and try again in 1 or 2 years. Given the high cost that I would have to pay for a Masters programs (as an international student), I really want to make sure that doing well in a Masters would offer a substantial advantage for me?