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  #1  
Old 28.01.2010, 23:38
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Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Hi,
Couldn't find any other areas to post this, so posting here.

If there is anyone doing a Ph.D. here, maybe they can help with my question.

I am considering applying for a Ph.D. position in ETH. I have completed my masters 10 years ago and I'll be 36 this March. Do you think they will be more inclined to accept younger candidates?

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 29.01.2010, 08:33
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Hi Kedi,

Age is definitely something that professors take into account for prospective candidates.

I once talk to my professor about hiring someone that was also above 30 and he mentioned that these candidates tend to drop the PhD program.
He said that they need to financially support their family or their living costs are higher.

But I think you should at least try, talk to the professors you want to work with and ask them if you could be a good fit.

Cheers,
HG
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Old 29.01.2010, 08:49
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Depends on the field, but typically age is not a limit. It's up to the professor and your family situation.
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Old 29.01.2010, 08:56
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

My father simultaneously studied for and completed MSc and PhD degrees in his late 50s. Not at ETH, but I hope this gives you some hope (in your old age ).
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Old 29.01.2010, 08:59
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

I started my PhD at Bern when I was 31, and yes, I still managed to complete it.
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:01
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

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Hi,
Couldn't find any other areas to post this, so posting here.

If there is anyone doing a Ph.D. here, maybe they can help with my question.

I am considering applying for a Ph.D. position in ETH. I have completed my masters 10 years ago and I'll be 36 this March. Do you think they will be more inclined to accept younger candidates?

Thanks
Apart from vanity, what use will it be for you? If you aren't well on the way to the top of the tree, it's not going to happen
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:05
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

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Apart from vanity, what use will it be for you? If you aren't well on the way to the top of the tree, it's not going to happen
I disagree entirely. The OP may be seeking a career or directional change and a PhD could be a prerequisite for that. I know it's not a research-based degree, but I completed my MBA at 40 and it has proven very valuable in effecting my career change.

Kedi, go for it.
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:10
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Go for it. Your age can be shown to be an asset and although your potential supervisor might not agree a negative attitude at the start is only going to lead to rejection. My PhD was a nightmare and I wouldn't do one again but I'm glad I was there and stuck it out (and I started it when I was "mature").
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:12
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

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Apart from vanity, what use will it be for you? If you aren't well on the way to the top of the tree, it's not going to happen
Not everyone wants to go "to the top of the tree", how is that any less a vanity trip than having a PhD? I did mine as it had always been a personal goal, it taught me techniques and ideas, and provided me with a sound scientific knowledge which I have been able call upon in subsequent professions.
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:19
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Mr Soles, some people do PhDs for knowledge sake and for the intellectual challenge. In fact most people do. It's not always about career advancement, whatever that means.
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  #11  
Old 29.01.2010, 09:21
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

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Hi,
Couldn't find any other areas to post this, so posting here.

If there is anyone doing a Ph.D. here, maybe they can help with my question.

I am considering applying for a Ph.D. position in ETH. I have completed my masters 10 years ago and I'll be 36 this March. Do you think they will be more inclined to accept younger candidates?

Thanks
I don't understand why you are asking this. Would the answer to that question have any effect on your interest/decision to pursue PhD? If so, then there is something wrong somewhere.

AFIK no PhD positions in ETH or anywhere in the world have an age limit*. What matters is your motivation (and ability to convince it to the hirer). Dad was doing his PhD in a top univ in Canada when I was studying my bachelor's in India; it did involve huge sacrifice, but the payoffs were also HUGE, and dad become my role model easily. If anything, such people are more solid and committed than youngsters, so the argument of who drops out more often cuts both ways.

All the best!
*Edit: There might be a few cases where they do have age limits. They would have reasons for putting it, and obviously you need to apply elsewhere then


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I disagree entirely. The OP may be seeking a career or directional change and a PhD could be a prerequisite for that. I know it's not a research-based degree, but I completed my MBA at 40 and it has proven very valuable in effecting my career change.

Kedi, go for it.
I think that poster was trying to derail the thread, and did not warrant a response
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:21
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

I know that in the top US universities, above 30 is considered a drawback if you are doing a Phd. But if you can really show in your SOP that your experience in the field till now will give you an advantage over others, i would say go for it. Also, keep in mind that in some institutes people tend to think it is a very positive thing if you are doing Phd from a personal interest and not to switch career. Plus your finances are stable during your Phd.

Even I was having the same doubts, when I was looking for Phd options. You can also try browsing these websites for finding people who share the same goals as you
http://talk.collegeconfidential.com
http://www.urch.com/forums/
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  #13  
Old 29.01.2010, 09:23
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Seriously people!

OP: age DOES NOT MATTER. It's your qualifications and your motivation that matters.

Just apply.
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Old 29.01.2010, 09:31
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

I've known several people over 30 who have done PhD's... one was in her 60's and now works at the University of Bristol (Dr Pam Gill). I really don't think age is a concern, they're more worried about relevance of previous work and how keen you are!

Go for it, I never thought I'd get a PhD and I did! There's no harm in trying!

James
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Old 29.01.2010, 11:18
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Thanks for all the replies.

The reason I asked was because in the web page 1985 was shown as an example date in completing the form. I didn't want to look like a fool among fresh-faced 25 year old candidates.

I always wanted to go back to school on my own terms, without having to worry about graduating so that I can find a job, etc.

I relocated here with my husband (who is working), but since we are non-EU, with my L permit it is almost impossible to get a job. When I saw the ad for the PhD position I thought this might be a good opportunity to study in a really good university and enjoy it like I always wanted.

I don't think I will drop out as I tend to finish what I started and we don't have financial worries at the moment.

Your replies encourage me so I think I will go for it.
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Old 14.10.2011, 21:12
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

A professor from the Institute of Physics, University of Bern wrote me that 36years is too old for PhD studies, that they prefer younger scientists. He claimed that he was just informed last year of this age limitation in PhD studies. Am not sure if this is so in all institutes in the university and Switzerland in general.

This life is very big and small! People are deprived of the things they want to do by using excuses that are gratis!

Its a pain!

I joined this group because I needed answers!
Race, age, and even location cant stop a moving train! Education must continue!
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Old 14.10.2011, 21:59
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

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A professor from the Institute of Physics, University of Bern wrote me that 36years is too old for PhD studies, that they prefer younger scientists. He claimed that he was just informed last year of this age limitation in PhD studies. Am not sure if this is so in all institutes in the university and Switzerland in general.

This life is very big and small! People are deprived of the things they want to do by using excuses that are gratis!

Its a pain!

I joined this group because I needed answers!
Race, age, and even location cant stop a moving train! Education must continue!
Sorry to hear that, but what exactly is your question (that will elicit more useful responses than just commiserations)?

As I have posted earlier, only a minority of institutes have age limits and if the one you want has a limit, there is little you can do about it. That said, most places prefer not to take "older" candidates whether or not they have age limits. What is old is subjective, and case-specific and also discipline-specific. Like in Comp Sci or other hard sciences you find very young PhDs. In some others, like business, a couple of years of organizational experience is preferred, so the median age also tends to be significantly higher. Like in any other job market, you should have a convincing reason that fits well with the rest of your story
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Old 15.10.2011, 09:32
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Unfortunately in today's academic world PhD students are ultra cheap labour that universities rely on for research progress, although they're more expensive in Switzerland ($60,000 USD at ETH vs $22,000 at Harvard or any other US university). However, cheap labour are still too expensive if they produce no work, and typically it takes years of hard work to achieve good results. They may be concerned that you would not be able to endure years of poverty in exchange for research experience and a piece of paper in the end. However, if you are sufficiently qualified, and show convince them of your motivation and tenacity, you still stand a good chance.
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Old 15.10.2011, 23:37
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

Winston Churchill became prime minister of the UK at age 66 and led the country during its darkest hour. Old people have their uses sometimes.

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 16.10.2011, 00:23
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Re: Ph.D. Is there an age limit?

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Winston Churchill became prime minister of the UK at age 66 and led the country during its darkest hour. Old people have their uses sometimes.

Cheers,
Nick
And he was nearly 77 when he had his second helping. So there's even time for the OP to get a DSc as well ...

(Winnie was actually 65 when he became PM for the first time, but hey, it doesn't matter much in the scheme of things.)
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