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Megan64's avatar

Is 46 too old to pursue a PhD?

Asked by Megan64 (5826points) May 15th, 2014

I’m turning 46 this year, and I’m interested in pursuing a Doctorate. Am I past my prime for this? I consider myself to be a youthful middle-aged person. I ask because it seems like most folks are in their 30s. Comments, considerations?

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33 Answers

Bluefreedom's avatar

You’re never too old to pursue a quality education. Your ENTIRE life is a constant learning experience. I’d say definitely go for it and best wishes to you on your journey there.

prolificus's avatar

Considering the individuals in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s ++ who pursued their high school diploma, and higher education degrees, I do not think 46 is too old. If you’re motivated and passionate about it, then on a personal level – go for it! Financially, you’ll have to consider the rate of return for your investment compared to the amount of years you plan on using your doctorate. If it’s worth it to you, then there’s no reason for not pursuing a Ph.D. An education, though, is something you’ll use way beyond retirement. Plus, the more actively you use your brain, the more keen your mind will be as you age.

anniereborn's avatar

My mother got her Bachelor’s at the age of 71. Why? Because she wanted to.

zenvelo's avatar

Dear Abby was once asked, “should I get this degree, it’ll take 4 years and then I will be 55.”

Dear Abby said, “don’t get the degree, and in 4 years, you’ll still be 55. But you won;t have the degree.”

In other words, age isn’t a factor when considering going back for more education.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

No. Go for it. My dad got his law degree when he was 40.

wingsonroots's avatar

They way I look at it, I think a PhD or any degree is a life experience in itself.. just need to answer whether we have the resources for it. And a PhD is the individual’s valuable little contribution to the big sea of knowledge. With so many years of experience you sir must surely have a lot to add to our bits of knowledge in whatever field you’re working in.

jerv's avatar

My mother was older than that when she got her Masters, so why not?

pleiades's avatar

Consider this. My professor who was a creative writing/journalist professor and advisor to the college newspaper went back to grab his PhD after the weather at the college turned sour due to budget cuts and threats made against him for publishing hard nosed stories about the shady business deals our then Superintendent of the school, Raj K. Chopra made an illegal deal with some contractors rebuilders, long story short, he got his PhD, Chopra got kicked out, his whole team was ousted from the school board in sweetwater which is a branch of Chula Vista in San Diego county. The point is he went back to school under harsh atmosphere and made it out a year and a half later. You’re never too old!! He was in his 50s, this took place about 4 years ago

We used to call him Max. Now? We call him Dr. Max, it’s got a nice zing to it! (max branscomb)

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@anniereborn BRAVO to your mom, what a determined and motivated person.

GloPro's avatar

It’s only too old if you let it be.

janbb's avatar

My SIL is getting a PhD and she is in her fifties. My mom got her Master’s in her sixties. Go for it if you want to do it.

Crazydawg's avatar

No. But keep in mind 47 is the cutoff age for starting your phd education. ;)

filmfann's avatar

Not at all. Growth and education can be a lifelong quest.

josie's avatar

No age limit on self improvement

CWOTUS's avatar

If you’re even asking the question, then I have to ask back: “Are you ready for it?”

dappled_leaves's avatar

You can never be too old to get a doctorate. However, be aware that some things will be different at this age than they would have been if you were doing this when younger.

You will need to be able to hold large amounts of information in your brain (mainly citations of relevant papers) – this will not be as easy as it once was.

You will likely be less willing to take crap from your supervisor, or work for years on the very low salary offered by your supervisor or the department.

You will find it easier to wonder if the whole thing is really worth it. A PhD is a lot of work, more than you think it will be. Most people question their decision to do it at some point. As an older student, you actually know what you could be doing instead.

And unless you already have a job in your field, and are considering upgrading your credentials to make more money or aim for a specific type of position, your job prospects will probably not improve by getting the PhD. Do you have a financial plan in case your degree takes longer than the university will support you for?

I’m not trying to discourage you – I’m just saying that you should be aware what you’re getting into, and that you will be in a much better position to do it if you can support yourself during and after working on the degree.

Pachy's avatar

That was my mother’s age when she went to college and got her BA and MA.

Do it!

LostInParadise's avatar

I am having a hard time thinking of reasons for not doing it. If you feel you are up to it, can afford the cost and are able to devote the necessary time and energy then by all means go for it.

DipanshiK's avatar

You should definately do it.
You’re never too old to get qualified.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Not at all especially if it is for something you are deeply interested in.

chinchin31's avatar

You are never too old to develop your mind. Actually it is a good thing to keep developing your mind till the day you die. It will help prevent diseases like alzheimers and dementia. Why do you care what other people think. People are living longer nowadays. You are never too old for learning. Don’t stop living till the day you die

talljasperman's avatar

The only limit is the cut off to be a professor (usually 65 or 67 years old).

JLeslie's avatar

Absolutely not. Never too old. Do what you want to do while you can do it. Whatever it is doesn’t matter and it doesn’t matter how old.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Shit a guy here just graduated from law school at 65.

ibstubro's avatar

Go for the Degree!

Eggie's avatar

You are definitely not too old. You will be getting older anyway, better to get older with a degree under your belt.

downtide's avatar

Of course not. One of my friends just got a PhD this year at the age of 48. If you feel that you have the time and the capability, go for it.

Megan64's avatar

Thank you everyone! I just got back from camping (out of internet/cell range) to come back to this wealth of information and opinions. I’m going to go for it!

ibstubro's avatar

What did you decide? Are you in school yet?

talljasperman's avatar

It is never too late, except some university’s have a mandatory retirement at 65 or 67… You could still write books.

Megan64's avatar

@ibstubro I’m going to do it. I’m researching what I want to study. Considering Open University in England.

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