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Over 50 but thinking of applying for PHD

elgeelge Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited September 2010 in Graduate School
I did my masters in engg late 70s, and have been working in IT/Management since then. While I have been working full time since then (IT Management etc), part of me always wanted to be in academics - teaching, research etc. During a "lull time" I went ahead and did my executive mba late 90s..and loved getting back to academics.

I am thinking of doing PHD...and my primary reasons are -

I feel I am at a (st)age (mid 50s) that if I dont get into academics, it might be too late...and I might never get to it.

I love being in an academic/university settings...and doing PHD will enable me (or help to a large extent) to spend rest of my life in that setting, and teaching/coaching and learning - aspects that I love.

Having worked in corporate, global and fortune 100 organizations as well as gone thru mutli countries (I am US based) and cultures there are certain aspects that truly concern me (productivity, cultural, management, aspects etc ) which I think need an intellectual/academic focus etc...and I want to try and see how I can get deeper to understand etc.

With the above background, I would love to hear opinions/suggestions etc especially from folks who may have been in same situation, or seen other go thru this, their expriences etc.

Appreciate any feedback/thoughts/suggestions etc
Post edited by elge on

Replies to: Over 50 but thinking of applying for PHD

  • StrangeLightStrangeLight Registered User Posts: 279 Junior Member
    those are all great reasons to go for a PhD. certainly better than many young people's reasons, such as "i don't want to leave university," or "i am afraid of getting a real job."

    two of the best professors i've ever had the privilege to know had long careers before going into academia. one was a professional ballet dancer for well over a decade before she started her BA. the other worked as a journalist for about twenty years before deciding, much like yourself, that there were questions and issues he felt could only be answered with an intellectual/academic focus.

    in my experience, the best students and academics have had a wide variety of real life experiences beyond the university that positively contribute to their analytical skills. these people aren't just intelligent, they're wise.

    i don't really have any helpful suggestions, but i wish you all the luck!
  • MasterMoeMasterMoe Registered User Posts: 238 Junior Member
    That was real refreshing to read.

    Whenever I start to become really jaded abt the state of academic research, I read posts like yours and it puts a smile to my face.

    You clearly have the passion. Your reasons seem legit.

    A lot of bright young minds may have raw talent and energy, but wisdom and insight are often lacking.

    I don't have any real advice but best of luck! Cheers.
  • BrownParentBrownParent Registered User Posts: 12,776 Senior Member
    I have yet to hear this reason for PdD "many young people's reasons, such as "i don't want to leave university," or "i am afraid of getting a real job."

    I think that is something that people like to imagine others say.

    I know many people that did a Master's Degree at OP's age or older, (my mother got her BA in her 4-'s and her MA in her 60's) and OP is young enough to go for it. I don't consider an executive MBA academic works though, really?

    But elge, you should consider the odds of the opportunities to really get a position in academia after. It is tough. I'm trying to talk to my 21 year old about not just setting everything on this sight right now, as she is looking to a bit of an esoteric major, that is just a hair away from a commercial/industrial/govt major.
  • gthopefulgthopeful Registered User Posts: 1,828 Senior Member
    I have yet to hear this reason for PdD "many young people's reasons, such as "i don't want to leave university," or "i am afraid of getting a real job."

    I think that is something that people like to imagine others say.

    Of course next to no one says it, but their actions say as much.
  • belevittbelevitt Registered User Posts: 2,005 Senior Member
    Are you hoping to get a position in academia after the Phd or is it merely for the experience? You might find that nobody would take on a 50 or 60 year old for a tenure track position, but there are lots of non tenure track faculty positions to be had. Would you be happy working as an adjunct for the remainder of your career, teaching a couple of courses a semester? I believe another thread addresses the statistics, but of 10 people entering a Phd in humanities, 4 graduate, 2 remain in academia and 1 does so at a university. Would you be alright being at a non university?

    Can you retirement savings handle the sacrifices you would need to make for this to happen? I don't mean to be presumptuous, but you likely won't be contributing to your retirement account for a solid 10 years from the point you start a Phd, and in my career route (biomedical science), that would ensure running out of retirement money. Do you have family support? Family obligations?

    Best of luck in your endeavors.
  • tangoZtangoZ Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I write from South Africa, having had a ten year stint as a consultant in various African countries, and the EU. Before that I was a professional accountant in public sector. I am Stellenbosch Business School, where Im in the midst of a part-time Masters in Development Finance, the only one of its kind in Africa. I am provisionally registered for a PhD.Hope my comments wont lbe taken like eh ! is he a laggard. There are different views but from my experience age is a number. Working for IDA institutions and other development partners, being an academic and being a consultant go hand and hand. Dont throw away your experience because experience gets things done. Yu better off consolidating your knowledge but it may mean long hours of isolation and you need support from your family and workmates. A majority of doing part-time / fulltime PhD in my university ( Stellenbosch Business School ) are between 40 and 50. A couple are over fifty. If you want to work in the academia, a PhD is a must, otherwise you wont be able to assert yourself intellectually and you cannot be recoginsed. Why not consider a structured PhD from one of the UK, Australian or European universities because if you take it in the US or Canada its gonna take 5 years. There are costs, relocating to a different continent if you chose, but there are benefits of renewal and rejuvenation. I have studied in four continents. You have to remember there are dangers and hazards along the way - you may find professor who want to supervise you but at a cost (losing your freedom )and working for two years not knowing they will accept you as acandidate( they may say go home)/ ( PhD is an apprenticeship}. A good supervisor will tell you whether you are doing well.

    If you have funding, go for it but you need a well structured programme to get you back into studying. I worked for 22 years, and in the last 8 years, I studied by Distance learning for an Msc in Investment and Finance and now I am on MPhil Development Finance 92 YEARS). I am 47 years and I really wanted to celebrate my 50 year birthday with a PhD. I know I can do it because my research assignments and work I do independently average cum laude (distinction). Dont let anyone discourage you, your destiny is in your hands and your head, its a mental thing.

    I currently work in Uganda, where the recruitment to specify age limits ( please dont complain because Uganda is still developing and there are issues with some basic issues, human rights( from an international perspective etc )). Age limits ( > 50) will eliminate the older guys who are more experienced, stable and probably have application skills ( even in high tech jobs ).

    My final advice, get a PhD and if you like writing start now. But one more thing, if you hate critisism think again, but also attend Doctoral Research Training if there are such workshops then mix and speak to those who are already in it. Hope I have not been a LAGGARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • GianfrancoGianfranco Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    What a good idea.
    I am also thinking to apply for a Phd. I have already a master degree but done in the 80. I think redoing a master and only after apply for a Phd.

    What about you? did you apply? I would be really intersetd of any return of experience, any advice,....

This discussion has been closed.