How old is the average PhD student?

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s a long chore.
    • If you already have a masters, you might get a 2-3 year PhD at some universities (eg in the UK), but never in the US. Allow at least 5 years, rather than 6-8 years, depending on the field of study.
    • Ideally, your program will cover your tuition and living expenses, and you won’t graduate in debt. You can calculate the monetary value of your winnings and it is likely to be significant. Many people are comfortable with this decision (I am), but they make a conscious choice.
  2. Know yourself and recognize your possibilities.
    • Remember that your PhD counterpart is to invest 5-6 years in something else: your current job, a new career, skills outside of the PhD, etc. Some of these opportunities could actually be paid for. They will give you experience, respect and great opportunities. The opportunity cost of a PhD is high in terms of salary and other work. Of course, this applies to all ages. However, your opportunity cost as a more experienced person is likely to be higher.
    • Make sure you understand your career opportunities after your PhD. In some disciplines, such as economics, PhDs are in high demand, and almost all get a well-paying professional or academic job. Political science too, I think. Academic and even professional positions in your field are becoming increasingly rare in the social sciences and some humanities. I once heard that less than a third of the graduates of the best history programs in the world get a university job.
    • If you are not thinking about becoming a professor, think twice about a PhD. Yes, it could promote you in your field. But most jobs I know would require six years worth of intensive experience in many fields, not just a PhD. I don’t know if the promotion is more rewarding. You have to ask it for yourself.
    • Many people complain about the terrible opportunities for many graduate students and the poor treatment of associate professors. This tells me that many people are doing PhDs with the wrong expectations.
  3. Older people will bring many good things to the table.
    • PhD students are not known to be good with people, projects or money. You’ve probably learned a few things about being a professional no matter what you do. It will serve you well and offset some of the inconveniences of old age. Maybe even more than in return. My experience as a management consultant has certainly helped me manage large research projects better and earlier.
    • Once you graduate, faculty hiring committees will probably focus more on what you can do compared to your cohort than how old you are under 35 or 40. You can’t even look at your age or past experience. If you are over 40, then yes, I think you will see discrimination in the job market because of any major career change, regardless of career.
  4. But there are some disadvantages.
    • You may or may not like being around a lot of 25-year-old classmates and your teachers will do the same.
    • If you have no savings or are in debt, you may end up living a much worse lifestyle than you are used to.
    • You’re more likely to have family or financial obligations in retirement, so after you graduate you’ll have less freedom to make high-yield investments that are distant or outstanding. Some jobs, postdocs or fellowships are not suitable for a more complex personal situation.

      You may be unable or unwilling to work 12 days for the same reasons.
    • Of course, this applies to all career changes later in life, especially in the non-profit or public sector.
  5. Once you are in, remember that promotion is not easy for anyone. It’s a constant source of existential anxiety when you’re in the middle of it. Know that everyone thinks the same way and it’s not a special product of your age or what you brought with you.
  6. As one commenter said, “I am tempted to fight, when you are too young?” Good point. Here is another person expressing the same view. A topic for another day.

What is the average age of a doctoral student?

The average doctoral student is now 33 years old. Doctoral students are a bit older. However, the average graduate student in the late 1990s was just under 33 years of age. In fact, according to the Council of Graduate Schools, the age of graduate students has not changed in the past two decades. Although the age is not increasing, the number of non-traditional students is increasing. That means fewer returning students are choosing traditional education, according to data from the Council of Graduate Schools. So the question might not be: What is the average age of a graduate student? Now the question might be: what is the average age of students graduating from a traditional college program compared to those enrolled in evening, part-time, summer, or online programs? Age is definitely increasing.

Some people come out tired of a four-year bachelor’s degree. You are exhausted. Forbes Magazine notes that the four-year program is not a reality for the majority. Most students take longer to earn a bachelor’s degree. In fact, according to Forbes, only 58% of students earn a bachelor’s degree in six years. Many people never get a degree. After all this time and all this debt, many people want to get out of the education system for a while. In addition, university is a very uneven way of life. Many people drop out of college after earning their bachelor’s degree to start a family and gain work experience. However, most experts agree that our society has moved from an industry-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. College degrees are now the norm and people are going back to school to improve their skills and make them more competitive. Master’s degree holders earn $10,000 more per year than bachelor’s degree holders.

What does this long delay mean when you think about a doctorate and its age?

I want to clarify right away that I am not saying that you have to be of a certain age to do a doctorate. I don’t discriminate based on age either. Many people have great careers in science late in life after years of exploring in the dark. In fact, it is completely normal in science, especially when someone was working on a strange idea that was noticed only when others took it seriously. You can also start your PhD late (say in your 50s) and be extremely productive well into your 80s. Although you may have to officially retire (become Professor emeritus), many professors continue to interact with science well into old age.

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What is the best age for a doctorate?

The best age for a doctorate is three years ago. Second time is now the best. In fact, the best age to get a PhD is when you can complete it. The sooner you finish your PhD, the more life and career you will have with it, but there is no optimal age.

Depending on the subject, a master’s degree can shorten the time needed to complete a doctorate. If your discipline’s doctoral programs are structured to assume you have a master’s degree before entering, then yes, you will get a doctorate faster.

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