When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Chris
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:18 am

When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby Chris » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:52 am

Hi all, I am going to take the Cambridge University Masters course in Math (known as Part III of the Mathematical Tripos) next year, and I am a bit paranoid having heard of how notoriously difficult it can be. :roll: So I am just trying to be prepared for any possible outcome here :lol: .
For those unfamiliar: it's a taught masters course that lasts 1 year (more close to 9 months really) and the course level is similar to what one would encounter during the first two years at a US math graduate program -except more specialized. There are 2-unit and 3-unit courses and there is also the option to submit a (maximum of) one written essay, which consists of a literature review of an advanced topic, chosen from a list announced during the year. All in all, one may choose up to 19 credit's worth of any combination of courses and an essay (if applicable) so long as any 2 don't coincide. At the beginning of May, each candidate is required to submit a signed form listing the papers s/he wants to be examined on, and, if applicable, the essay topic and the essay itself. Then, the written exams take place during the first 2 weeks of June. These written exams -and the essay, if applicable- are the only means of official assessment -no credit whatsoever is given to homework, seminars etc- and they are "final" in every literal sense: no retakes are possible unless there is a medical emergency, mental health issue, loss of family member etc.

Now, I plan to apply to US universities as soon as I get there. From my understanding of the US system, if you receive an admissions offer with funding, then usually, the letter asks you to complete your undergraduate degree (if applicable) and states that financial support is conditional upon satisfactory degree progress. Now, the first clearly does not apply to me, so I would probably only be left with the second. Now, from discussions with others, I know some universities will ask you to complete all outstanding coursework and show them the final transcripts. But there are others, that say nothing of the sort, and only list the satisfactory degree progress as a requirement to continue funding over the program duration. It is those in the second case I am interested in...

Is admission unconditional on these programs? What happens if I fail? True, it's hard to fail, but exams are exams and these happen in a short time period with no second chances... My intuition says that the vast majority -if not all- of these universities would immediately revoke their admissions -or, equivalently, their funding- offers. And I could hardly blame them.
However, an accepted funding offer after April 15 is a legal contract, binding on both parties. So, what would legally/technically allow them to revoke an offer, based on something that is not listed as a condition for admission? The only reasoning I could come up with is:
a)They could argue it's a misrepresentation.
b)Satisfactory degree progress could be taken to include coursework before matriculation.
But somehow, these arguments seem really weak: the first obviously fails to take into account that I would not have provided erroneous information with the purpose of misleading the admissions committee -since, at the time of submitting the application, I would obviously have thought that I would pass the exams, else I would have quit- and the second fails simply because many universities explain that satisfactory degree progress, concerns courses at the student applies as credits towards the new degree -meaning that past exams should be irrelevant for this purpose.
I also wonder how they could find out since, in our scenario, nothing seems to indicate a student responsibility to submit final transcripts to the registrar, or student office or whatever...

I cannot imagine how any university would not "punish" the student somehow, as that would give "free pass" to anyone in a similar situation to just stop working after receiving an offer. However, like I said, I cannot find any legal/technical justification for breaking the contract, IF it's not explicitly listed in the conditions...

Am I missing something here? Could anybody shed some light on this? :lol:

Thanks!

bemonocled
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:54 pm

Re: When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby bemonocled » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:32 am

I've never heard of a revoked admission for graduate school, at least in the US. Completing the undergraduate degree might not even be strictly necessary. There is a math (or maybe physics) professor whose name I forget that dropped out of college (MIT I believe) as soon as he was admitted to graduate school, and so the only degree he has is a Ph.D. Obviously this is a little unusual. But I also know people (*cough*) who got incredibly lazy their last semester and got their worst GPA ever and never heard any complaint from graduate schools about it. These are all anecdotes, but I'm not sure you could find someone much more concrete than that.

Chris
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:18 am

Re: When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby Chris » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:59 am

Thanks!
That's interesting! I have never heard of a graduate admission being revoked either; however since there are plenty of undergrad offers revoked each year, I just assumed it would happen in the graduate case too. :roll:
I reasoned the reason I hadn't heard of it is that most people (*cough*) would too more mature by then to allow something like that to happen...

I would still like to hear other people's take on this, especially ones who might have more personal experience in the issue?

slm
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:55 am

Re: When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby slm » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:40 pm

I don't think anyone I know was asked to show his final transcript after being admitted. So I wouldn't worry too much.

Just out of curiosity, may I ask how much money it costs to complete Part III?

Chris
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:18 am

Re: When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby Chris » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:32 pm

Thank you for your input, slm.
As to your question, since I haven't started yet, I cannot answer beyond what the official numbers say. In short, for Europeans like me, the minimum would be around 18,000 GBP for ALL predicted costs (including tuition fees, accommodation, living costs etc.), while for overseas students it would go as high as 30,000 GBP. For Americans, this translates *very* roughly to 50,000$ in the current rate.
I do believe though, that there are various scholarships targeted specifically to US students, including the Fulbright Scholarship and the Churchill Scholarship for students interested in Churchill college. Plus, of course, numerous other scholarships available through several colleges that are not nationality-restrictive. As a rule of thumb, though, I must say that funding s*cks, and pretty much every funding body is much more interested in PhD students :roll: . So, if one counts on funding to go, they'd better plan for outside sources, else they won't stand much of a chance really...

slm
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:55 am

Re: When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby slm » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:43 pm

Chris wrote:Thank you for your input, slm.
As to your question, since I haven't started yet, I cannot answer beyond what the official numbers say. In short, for Europeans like me, the minimum would be around 18,000 GBP for ALL predicted costs (including tuition fees, accommodation, living costs etc.), while for overseas students it would go as high as 30,000 GBP. For Americans, this translates *very* roughly to 50,000$ in the current rate.

I see. I do remember seeing it on the Part III website that they don't provide any funding. If it makes you feel better, a lot of American universities(in particular, mine) cost more than $50,000 per year.

Chris
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:18 am

Re: When could a graduate admissions offer be revoked?

Postby Chris » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:03 pm

There's a crucial difference though. Part III is pretty much asked of anyone planning to stay for a PhD in Cambridge, even if they have completed a masters course in another university, as the people in Cambridge consider their master to be superior to almost any other comparable course (no idea if it's true, I'll tell you next year :P). The result is that, if your ideal supervisor is in Cambridge, you probably have no choice but to find money to go. Although it's probably a long shot anyway, given that exam performance is pretty much the top criterion for PhD admission, how few spots are open each year, and how fierce the competition is.

In contrast, in almost all US universities, a masters course is redundant, and certainly not required for admission, provided a good enough undergraduate degree is obtained. In other words, once you are accepted to take graduate study in the US, you can pretty much relax about future funding (but probably start worrying about repaying undergrad student loans :lol: ).

Anyway, we got completely off-topic, I still welcome opinions and experiences with regards to the original question!




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