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Is it possible to start a PhD in mathematics at the age of 29? [duplicate]

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I was initially focused on branches in analysis like operator algebra. At the third year of my undergraduate study, I experienced a financial loss in my family. It was only a slight loss and would not influence the life and regular plans of my family. But at that time I was not mentally strong enough and I could not concentrate on study. I postponed two years to graduate, in 2020.

These days I am trying to apply for a master program in mathematics. My GPA is not top, but fair enough, and I also did my graduation thesis carefully. I applied for several programs in Europe and received the conditional admission of Uni of Göttingen, but my Toefl grade did not meet the requirements. This year I have prepared all the things and I am going to apply for several master’s programs in Germany.

I am currently interested in low-dimensional topology and want to select this area as my direction. But when I apply for a PhD, I am 29 years old, is it a huge disadvantage? I also referred to several persons working on geometric topology, and the time cost seems to be high. But I am still enthusiastic about mathematics and want to get a bread.

Anyone could give me some suggestions?

  • gt.geometric-topology
  • oa.operator-algebras
  • 37 $\begingroup$ As far as I know it is not uncommon to start a PhD later in life, and 29 is not even that late. Age alone should not be much of a disadvantage. $\endgroup$ –  Wojowu Feb 28, 2022 at 9:43
  • 3 $\begingroup$ You may want to look at this thread. The "age gap" is somewhat smaller there but you should find some stories shared there encouraging! $\endgroup$ –  Wojowu Feb 28, 2022 at 9:44
  • 5 $\begingroup$ This post is also tangentially related: Too old for advanced mathematics? And maybe you can find some related posts also on Academia . $\endgroup$ –  Martin Sleziak Feb 28, 2022 at 9:46
  • 5 $\begingroup$ Lefschetz started his PhD at age 33. So no age is too late. $\endgroup$ –  Kapil Mar 1, 2022 at 12:03
  • 4 $\begingroup$ @Brady, OK, but the question is whether it's possible to start a PhD in math at age 29. What's true for, say, sociology doesn't necessarily hold for Mathematics. $\endgroup$ –  Gerry Myerson Mar 2, 2022 at 11:08

8 Answers 8

I don't think being 29 could ever be considered a disavantage on the intellectual or creative level to start a PhD. The comments below your question give you links to lists of famous mathematicians who were late starters. One famous example is Stephan Banach who wrote the equivalent of his master thesis at 28 and got the equivalent of what we call today a PhD at age 30.

I would nevertheless advise to be very careful on other aspects of a mathematician's carreer. Unfortunately, such a career is rarely based solely on talent and genius, unless you solve the equivalent of the Riemann hypothesis in your field. Financial and sociological issues are very important and might become more and more difficult to tolerate as you grow older.

If you plan to get a PhD and then move to industry and/or work for private companies, I guess (though I don't have a formal proof, only examples from friends and colleagues) that your professional life won't be any significantly different or harder than that of your colleagues who got their PhD a few years earlier than you. On the other hand, you have to know that there is an extremely fierce competition for jobs in academia.

It has now become standard to be on very unstable positions (called post-doc positions) for at least 3–4 years after the completion of your PhD. And sometimes up to 10 years! (I have seen that among younger colleagues.) During these years, you need to gain recognition from the bigwigs in your field, so that they can support your application for the next stage of your career: the tenure track position (which I will describe below). And that might be extremely difficult, even if you prove some big results.

I know someone who, as a PhD student, answered an implicit \footnote{added as per suggested by Dan Petersen} question of Serre (you might call it a conjecture ) on cohomological invariants of some finite groups. Instead of congratulating him for his results, Serre became mad at this guy, accused him of stealing his ideas, saying that "the main steps of the proof were already known to him, and that he was going to publish very soon a paper answering his own question." The guy was forced by Serre's affiliates to rewrite his paper and explicitly mention that his work contains no original contribution as "everything was already known to Serre" (but of course not published).

His career in abstact algebra, which should have certainly flourished in the best possible way, considering his brilliant debut, brutally stopped there. This guy was only 25 or 26 at the time, and was strong enough to start a new career in another field. I can't however imagine him doing the same if he was 36 (instead of 26).

But that is a single example, and obviously, most PhD don't end up like this. On the other hand, even if you succeed in having your peers acknowledge your work in a positive way and find some good post-doc positions, you still are in the middle of the jungle. Indeed, if you gain enough support from the bigwigs in your field, you can only upgrade from post-doc positions to a tenure track position.

While tenure track positions are certainly less insecure than post-doc positions, they still aren't permanent positions. They last between 5 to 10 years, and the same game has to be played again with the bigwigs: publish (a lot and frequently) on the subjects which they consider to be interesting, gain their recognition and ask them to support your application.

Then, finally, after 10 to 15 years of such a life (where you might have to move out places every 2 or 3 years), you may hope for a stable and permanent position. Which means that if you start your PhD at 29 and plan to work in the academia, you might secure a permanent position at 40 at the earliest. Granting the fact that you have been able to give plain satisfaction to the numerous bigwigs you will encounter during this 10 to 15 years period of time.

I do believe this is really an important issue to consider before getting bogged down in the academia. You really don't feel the same about those things whether you are in your late twenties or you come close to 40.

  • 8 $\begingroup$ @Alex : I am certainly not tryng to discourage you from fulffilling your dreams. Mathematics is certainly worth devoting ones life to it. I am just trying to warn you that academia is far from being what it looks from this outside. It is a jungle! In my opinion, age only play a central role in some situations. When you are (very) young, you don't really care about job security and you recover very quickly from the humiliations the bigwigs may suject you to. I do believe that you become less and less able to tolerate such things when you get older. $\endgroup$ –  Libli Feb 28, 2022 at 19:28
  • 24 $\begingroup$ For those curious, this seems to be the paper referred to: . I do not understand why people like Serre do not understand that forcing (explicitly or implicitly) someone to write that makes you look like an enormous jerk. $\endgroup$ –  user2520938 Mar 1, 2022 at 8:34
  • 6 $\begingroup$ Regarding taking a PhD to industry: Be aware of the opportunity cost. Years invested in earning a PhD are years not spent building connections and industry-specific skillsets. (This is not to say a PhD-->industry is not worthwhile, but rather to be cognizant of the tradeoff.) $\endgroup$ –  Neal Mar 1, 2022 at 14:31
  • 10 $\begingroup$ I think the anecdote about Serre in this answer is inappropriate for many reasons: 1) It is a disparaging accusation against a person identified by his real name, made by an anonymous user. 2) It is based only on second-hand information about an incident which happened 10 years ago. 3) The student is easily identifiable from your description (see the comment of @user2520938), who would perhaps not like the affair to be dragged out in public, either. 4) It is not relevant to the question of whether it is a good idea to start a PhD at age 29. $\endgroup$ –  Dan Petersen Mar 2, 2022 at 4:42
  • 9 $\begingroup$ @DanPetersen : Life is full of unlikely events, sometimes very disappointing. I am sorry if this event involving Serre may shed some shadows on the naive picture of him you may have created for yourself. But the story happened exactly as I tell it. I was almost in first lines when it occured. $\endgroup$ –  Libli Mar 2, 2022 at 10:04

I completed my PhD at the age of 32 which is not uncommon to Israelis. We often lose several years due to military service. So starting at 29 might be a bit late, but it is not a disaster. It is more about talent and commitment. Good luck.

  • 12 $\begingroup$ Starting later in life, after having some life experiences can be a huge advantage. I witnessed many Israeli students doing their Ph.D thesis at Cornell, after completing their IDF time. They cut through their Ph.D work like a hot knife through butter. People going to grad school, straight out of the high school -> undergrad degree cycle, often get dizzy from the array of discussion and research topics, math's tangled history. $\endgroup$ –  Ryan Budney Feb 28, 2022 at 18:31

This is/was certainly possible.

Proof : Reuben Hersh started a PhD after 30 (born in 1927, he defended his thesis in 1962 at the age of 35) after having been working a decade as a machinist. He eventually became a successful professor at the University of New Mexico. His scientific work ranges from hyperbolic PDEs to Probability and Philosophy.

  • 5 $\begingroup$ Hersh’s experience 60 years ago shouldn’t count for much here. At the time, American academia was expanding, the academic job market was plentiful, and PhDs were quicker. That’s no longer true in the US, and I doubt it’s true in Germany. $\endgroup$ –  user44143 Mar 1, 2022 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @MattF. The OP did not address the question of job market, but only that of feasibility of a PhD at the age of 29. Hersh's example shows that the answer is positive. $\endgroup$ –  Denis Serre Mar 1, 2022 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Check out Hersh's published dissertation, esp. p. 321: . Do you think someone today could get a PhD with a dissertation that "is virtually identical to" a paper only 18 pages long and described as "nothing but a straightforward use of Laplace and Fourier transformations"? I doubt it -- and that matters for someone today. $\endgroup$ –  user44143 Mar 1, 2022 at 18:09
  • 2 $\begingroup$ @MattF. Half (?) of the PhD theses in maths are either not cited, or forgotten after five years. That of R. Hersh is still a fundamental step in the theory of hyperbolic Initial Boundary Value Problem. Today, an advisor would ask the student (say R. Hersh grandchild) to elaborate around the 18 pages fundamental paper. It would extend to 100 pages, but the core of the thesis would remain about the same. $\endgroup$ –  Denis Serre Mar 1, 2022 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the math would be no better! But adding another 80 pages would add another 6 months or year to the PhD. $\endgroup$ –  user44143 Mar 2, 2022 at 16:38

Just another example: I graduated late, then worked 2 years outside university, then started my PhD, defended my thesis at 37, and at 47 I became associate professor. Since you ask this frequently: my field is dynamical systems.

It wasn't easy to catch up. I had to accept a few things which look cool in your 20s but uncomfortable in your 40s.

  • $\begingroup$ Do your parents support this career? Is it not easy to overcome some anxiety of peer pressure in this process? $\endgroup$ –  Alex Mar 1, 2022 at 14:16
  • 2 $\begingroup$ I was lucky enough to work in very good and supportive teams. The difficult part was to move every 2 years or less and to wait my mid 40s to start building my own family. $\endgroup$ –  Paul Mar 1, 2022 at 14:39

As a yes or no question, then certainly yes.

You are at a tiny disadvantage though, which you obviously know to be posing the question. And tiny disadvantages sometimes gradually get bigger, but sometimes they feeble into non-importance. Ultimately, it probably won't be the deciding factor. But it will manifest itself: on the professional level, it might mean you get judged negatively by some (short-sighted, and hopefully not many) professors/panel members; and on the personal level, it might mean you'll attach more importance to your family and financial status than you would have done a few years ago. No one knows how it will play out, but those will be the issues. That's all it is.

I don't know much but I can assure you that no one will be walking about thinking "omg they're just starting their phd". But you're right that (referring to one of your comments) it isn't that easy to overcome the social/peer pressure, but what should be easy anyway. Just make sure you're aware of it and have your approach to cope with it (and not just ignore it - I've seen too many people fail their Ph.D.'s not because they're mathematically incapable but because they don't know how to deal with the pressures involved). Anyway, pretty soon you'll talk to enough people to realise few people care about your age, they just care what maths you do.

Also, as a small personal supporting note cause no one likes getting rejected and it was that bit that made me catch your post: good that you avoided Goettingen, my supervisor there literally told me I was too old to go for a postdoc (at 28). So look at it as a bullet dodged, if it helps. (By the way, Mihailescu is at Goettingen and he didn't start his Ph.D. until he was aroud 40! (He's great by the way, incase this last paragraph is otherwise too negative.))

  • $\begingroup$ 28 is common even if this is only the first post-doc…what I have realized is that being admitted to a master program is not difficult, it is a challenge whether I can find a supervisor afterwards. $\endgroup$ –  Alex Mar 1, 2022 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ it will be more difficult, but not terribly so (at all). there are plenty of posts here, on stackexchange, or on quora, about how to correctly approach a professor - learn about their research and if you find it interesting then tell them. you can't really fake this. and at that point they won't care about your age. (usually, but ye unfortunately there will be some cases where "at a tie" you could get marked down.) it's good to acknowledge that you're starting older, but that's where it ends - don't let it worry you. after that just focus on your mathematics. $\endgroup$ –  tomos Mar 1, 2022 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ Given what you say, why do you describe the disadvantage as tiny? Having less family time and less money are not tiny things for someone who has the values you suggest. $\endgroup$ –  user44143 Mar 1, 2022 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ i agree, i think i was just trying to say that the gap starts smaller and either gets bigger (if you miss out on things because you're judged too old, but you would have been fine and it would have been a chance to "catch up", or because as you say your family means you have less time for maths so your output decreases but that of your "competitors" doesn't) or gets neutralised early on (either through luck or being particularly good or particularly hard-working). but at the "beginning" there might not actually be that much difference between the candidates. $\endgroup$ –  tomos Mar 1, 2022 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @tomos Thanks for your suggestions. Are you familiar with pure mathematics in Germany? I mean if there are comparatively abundant positions of phd there… $\endgroup$ –  Alex Mar 1, 2022 at 19:53

I started my PhD at age 30, and don't feel my age was a significant obstacle. However, I believe almost no one should do a PhD, regardless of age.

  • $\begingroup$ how come? if i may ask $\endgroup$ –  tomos Mar 2, 2022 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ There's nothing about an academic career that makes it worth staying extra years in school, taking one or more temporary positions, having little control over the city one lives in, just in the (possibly unlikely) hope that one will eventually find a tenure track position. Not to mention the fact that anyone capable of doing a PhD in a technical field could likely get a job in industry making 2x or 3x as much as a professor. $\endgroup$ –  Michael Benfield Mar 2, 2022 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @tomos What he said is not comparatively unrealistic, if one has not set up a family or other burdens…No doubt pure maths requires strong brain muscle, and people are definitely the strongest in their young 20s, I acknowledge that…Different persons also have different stamina, and certain physical exercise could help maintain better. $\endgroup$ –  Alex Mar 2, 2022 at 19:01

May be I live in another part of the world? I never asked this question to myself when I started my PhD from Mathematics Department and I was 29 at that time :)

I thought I was too young to do a PhD :D

  • 1 $\begingroup$ Which field are you working in? $\endgroup$ –  Alex Mar 1, 2022 at 12:18

I think the bottom line is that some things are easier if you start earlier, but that talent and quality will ultimately find a way and that these things are not determined by your physical age. If you have something original to say, you should still be able to say it regardless of your age.

Note that obtaining a PhD at a relatively old age is quite common for Israeli mathematicians and physicists. For example, if you need inspiration, Yuval Ne'eman started his PhD in physics aged 33. His main contribution (age 36) was his discovery of the classification of hadrons using $SU(3)$ flavour symmetry (known colloquially as the ''eightfold way''). This is a major achievement in twentieth-century physics.

  • $\begingroup$ It's worth noting that Ne'eman's achievement was over sixty years ago: he was born in 1925, with the eight-fold way in 1961, and his related dissertation in 1962 ( ). $\endgroup$ –  user44143 Mar 1, 2022 at 18:47
  • 1 $\begingroup$ You are right. However, this does not contradict the fact that it is an interesting example of someone who started doing formal research relatively late in life but still made great advances. $\endgroup$ –  Hollis Williams Mar 1, 2022 at 20:41

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How challenging experiences led me to pursue a PhD in Mathematics by Shanise Walker

As a student graduating high school, I was convinced of one thing: I was going to be a high school mathematics teacher. Everything I had done in high school and the inspiration and encouragement I received from teachers, family, and friends helped me feel reassured that my decision was the right one. As a high school student, I excelled in every subject, but doing mathematics was a passion. My love for mathematics led me to tutoring both middle school and high school students in mathematics, participating in mathematics competitions, and learning about other areas of mathematics outside of the curriculum. I had even earned the highest achievement award every year for mathematics in my grade level, so being a high school mathematics teacher seemed like the perfect choice for me.

As an undergraduate student, I immediately declared that I wanted to be a mathematics education major. Although I would have to be accepted into the program, I was sure of my choice in major. Completing the requirements to get into the program were easy because I was eager to be a math teacher. For the first few years of undergrad, things were going well. I added the mathematics major to my degree program and became a double major in mathematics and mathematics education. I was accepted into the mathematics education program and was set on my goals; everything was going well.

Fast forward to the spring semester of junior year, something changed. While taking a math education course focused on technology in the classroom, I found myself in a situation that I could not explain and one that could not be explained to me at the time. One of the first assignments in the course was to write an argumentative essay on technology in the classroom and its benefits or hindrances. When I wrote my essay, I focused my attention on the hindrances and how too much technology could lead students to rely heavily on devices and not enough on understanding the concepts. In the end, I received a low score on this assignment and when I inquired about the low score, the teaching assistant responded, “It’s just wrong.” This was just the beginning of a long battle of receiving low grades because “it’s just wrong.” Those words haunted me, so I stopped inquiring and just accepted the grades. I received lower grades than my peers, even on assignments where we had the same answers. I really disliked going to that class, but I knew I needed to finish the course because it was a requirement for my mathematics education degree. The real test came during the group final project. The project consisted of a group paper and a class demonstration on teaching a math topic to students. For the group paper, my group scored near perfect, but on the class demonstration, I scored significantly lower than my classmates. My group members and I did not understand it since I had written over half of the group paper and the project idea was one that I had brought to the group. I spent countless hours working on this project only to get near perfect or perfect grades on the group graded portion of the project but a low grade on my individual portion.

After receiving the group project grade, I had had enough. I decided to meet with the instructor of the course about my grades and my displeasure with the course. During our meeting, I asked the instructor to explain to me why my grades were much lower than classmates, especially on assignments where we had the same answers. It was then that I learned that this was not about my work, but about who I am. The professor outright admitted that the teaching assistant had given me lower scores because I was Black. The professor was already aware of the situation and had been for semesters before I became a student in his course. It had happened to other Black students who had taken the course before me. I was given assurance that while my grades were low, my final grade would not be. When I left that meeting, I cried. I was angry. While I knew that the particular teaching assistant would not be a grader for any other courses I would take in the major, I felt that I no longer had a place of belonging in that major. Despite feeling like I didn’t belong, I still had a passion for teaching high school mathematics, so I was determined to complete the degree.

The determination to continue with my mathematics education degree would change while I was a participant in an 8-week summer REU mathematics program. When I arrived at the REU program, I had no knowledge of how to conduct mathematics research and I was also unsure of what exactly I would be researching. However, with good mentorship from my research mentor and a postdoctoral student (now a tenured faculty member), I found myself interested in mathematics beyond teaching it. I was interested in solving math problems and I found that sense of community during the REU program that was lacking in my home department. Within the first few weeks of the REU program, I had decided that I wanted to get a PhD in mathematics–a thought I had not had before. My research mentor gave me advice on preparing and applying to graduate school. I took the advice and applied for PhD mathematics programs.

When I returned to my university the fall after the REU program, I was still pursuing a double major in mathematics and mathematics education. I knew that I had only one semester of coursework before I would be student teaching, but there was some unrest in me in continuing my mathematics education degree. I had just come from spending an entire summer doing math research, and I had this motivation in me to pursue a PhD. A week before classes started, I dropped my remaining mathematics education courses. After dropping the courses, I found myself in the position of being able to graduate at the end of the semester since I needed only one mathematics course and one elective course in a certain area to graduate. However, I decided I wanted to stay the entire senior year, so I enrolled in two mathematics courses and other electives.

While I dropped my mathematics education courses, I did not immediately drop my mathematics education major because I was still a bit torn about the idea of perhaps not being able to teach high school mathematics. However, before the fall semester ended, I went for it. I dropped the major and pursued my newfound interest of getting a PhD in mathematics. I started on a research project with a faculty member in the mathematics department and began submitting applications for graduate school. I submitted a number of applications for PhD in mathematics programs before the Thanksgiving break, so everything was going well.

In the spring of my senior year, I had another incident that solidified my pursuit of a mathematics PhD. I attended a graduate school fair at my institution to learn about other graduate programs at other institutions. While doing so, I stumbled upon a master’s program in mathematics education and thought to myself: “Well, maybe I could get my teaching certification while in this program because after all, I still had a passion to teach high school mathematics.” The program was at an institution close to my hometown, so that also meant that I would be able to spend more time with my family. The deadline to apply to the master’s program had not yet passed, so I thought to myself I would give it a shot. I spoke with the program’s representative, and we discussed the program and my GRE scores. She told me that I would likely get into the program with probationary status due to my GRE composite score. When I told her I had already been accepted into PhD programs in mathematics, there was a bit of shock on her face (and I am sure on mine as well). What I knew to be true was that my GRE Verbal Reasoning score was not as high, but I had done well on the GRE Mathematics portion. The composite score missed the mark for their institution to be granted full admission, so with this information in mind, I did not apply to the program. I continued with my plan to get a PhD in mathematics and finally decided that teaching high school mathematics was not the best fit for me. The following fall, I went off to graduate school, pursuing a mathematics PhD program at the same institution I had done the REU. Six years later, I completed the program and earned a PhD in mathematics.

Now, as I write about this experience almost ten years later, for the first time I ask myself, “How can eight weeks change the whole course of your life?” This is exactly what the REU program did for me. It changed the course of my life. It gave me a mathematical experience that I had not encountered before. It provided me with the mentorship I needed to succeed and gave me a sense of belonging in the mathematics community that I had not felt before. It also provided me with motivation to pursue something different–a doctoral degree. For this, I am grateful.

Two years ago, I had an opportunity to fulfill my passion of teaching high school mathematics. I taught calculus to a group of underrepresented minority students at a STEM summer program for high school students. This experience was just as joyful as I thought it would be, and I will always cherish it.

math phd later in life

1 Response to How challenging experiences led me to pursue a PhD in Mathematics by Shanise Walker

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Hi, I’m really inspired by your passion ,persistence and clarity to stick on to take up mathematics at research level. Currently I’m doing my ph. D program in management in India. But having graduated in bachelor’s degree in maths, I now have ardent desire to continue my masters and then proceed to do ph. d in maths. Though it’s 30 years since I lost touch, your life story is still furthering my passion. Thanks and a nice flow of narrative. Regards, Soundra

Comments are closed.

Opinions expressed on these pages were the views of the writers and did not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the American Mathematical Society.

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Academia Insider

Older PhDs student experiences – should you pursue a PhD later in life?

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for individuals to change careers or pursue higher education later on in life.

For those considering a PhD program at an older age, there may be some hesitations and concerns about the experience.

  • Will it be worth it?
  • How difficult is it to balance academic responsibilities with other commitments such as family and work?
  • What are the experiences of older PhD candidates?
  • And many more questions…

In this article, we will explore the unique challenges and rewards of pursuing a PhD later in life, and share the insights and experiences of older PhD candidates.

Whether you’re considering a career change or simply seeking personal growth, read on to discover if pursuing a PhD is right for you.

Two specific case studies:

This case study explores the experiences of two mature PhD students, who despite their age, successfully navigated through their doctoral programs.

These students come from diverse backgrounds, having pursued their PhDs in Marketing and Computer Engineering. Their stories highlight the importance of determination, support systems, and practical experiences in achieving their academic goals.

Case 1: Marketing PhD Student at 48


This student began their PhD journey at the age of 43, having accumulated 15 years of corporate experience, 5 years of teaching, and some consulting work. They decided to pursue a PhD after talking with their advisor during their master’s program.


One of the main challenges faced by this student was knowing when to stop working and take breaks. Managing workload and maintaining mental health were essential aspects of their PhD journey.

Key Factors for Success:

The student emphasized the importance of having a good advisor and a support network. Their prior experience in the corporate world helped them form interesting and relevant research questions. This also made them more relatable to students when teaching.

The student is now in the final stages of their PhD and has been offered a tenure-track assistant professor position at a university in New York.

Case 2: Computer Engineering PhD Student at 32

This student completed their PhD at the age of 32, having taken five years off after their master’s to work in the aerospace industry. They had always planned on getting a PhD and built significant experience in their field during their time off.

Working full-time while pursuing a PhD consumed most of their time, making it difficult to balance work, studies, and personal life. They acknowledged that having children would have added another layer of complexity to their situation.

The student’s success can be attributed to a fantastic advisor, a passionate research topic, and the ability to work from home. Their company’s financial support for their PhD program played a significant role in their decision to continue working full-time.

Having completed their PhD in three years, the student now plans to continue climbing the technical ladder within their company and aims to achieve a Technical Fellowship.

The experiences of these mature PhD students demonstrate the importance of determination, support systems, and real-world experience in successfully completing a doctoral program. Both students managed to overcome challenges and leverage their unique backgrounds to achieve their academic and professional goals.

If you want to know more about how to do a PhD at an older age you can check out my other articles:

  • What is the PhD student average age? Too late for your doctorate?
  • What is the average masters students age? Should you return to graduate school?
  • Typical Graduate Student Age [Data for Average Age]
  • Balancing PhD and family life – tips for balancing a busy life

Life Experience Helps with a doctoral degree 

Life experience can be a valuable asset when pursuing a PhD. The journey towards obtaining a doctoral degree can often be challenging and demanding, requiring dedication, hard work, and resilience.

Other benefits can include:

Iindividuals with life experience may have an advantage as they already possess a certain level of maturity, self-discipline, and time-management skills.

Life experience can bring a unique perspective and insight to research, as individuals may draw from their personal experiences to inform their research questions and design.

Moreover, being part of a cohort with diverse backgrounds and experiences can also enrich the doctoral experience, leading to greater learning and growth as a researcher.

You’re never too old to become a PhD student

Age is just a number, and this is especially true when it comes to academic pursuits. It is never too late to do a PhD, as academia welcomes learners of all ages. Long gone are the days when PhD candidates had to be in their early 20s to pursue this degree.

Nowadays, more and more people in their 30s or 40s are pursuing doctoral degrees, and many have even found great success after graduation.

Here are some potential advantages and drawbacks of doing a PhD later in life:


  • Greater maturity: You have a better understanding of what you want to do and can focus on your goals.
  • Real-world experience: You have a better understanding of real-world problems and can work on more relevant research.
  • Stronger mental health: Having other commitments in your life can help you maintain a better work-life balance and prevent you from dwelling on research-related stress.
  • Financial resources: You may have more financial resources at your disposal, which can be helpful during your PhD journey.
  • Less need for validation: You’re likely pursuing the degree for genuine reasons rather than seeking status or validation.
  • Better relationships with professors: You may find it easier to connect with your professors as peers and friends.
  • Research relevance: Your research may be more relevant to managers because you’ve experienced management roles.
  • Time constraints: You may not have as much time to enjoy the benefits of your PhD, especially if you plan to retire in your 60s.
  • Additional life commitments: You may have more personal responsibilities, such as children, a spouse, or aging parents, which can make it more challenging to balance your PhD work.
  • Potential need for relocation: You may have to move around for job opportunities, which could be difficult if you have a family or other commitments.
  • Opportunity cost: Pursuing a PhD at this stage in life may come at the expense of other career opportunities or financial gains.
  • Difficulty in obtaining tenure: You may not obtain tenure until your late 50s, which may be a drawback for some individuals.
  • Not a financially sound decision: If you’re pursuing a PhD to make more money, the return on investment may not be as high as you expect.

Older PhD candidates often have a wealth of experience and knowledge that can only enhance their research and academic contributions.

So if you are considering pursuing a postgraduate degree, don’t let your age hold you back. It’s never too old to follow your academic dreams!

If you want to know more about how doing a PhD later in life you can check out my other articles:

Who is the oldest person to do a PhD? 

The oldest person to earn a PhD was a 95-year-old woman named Ingeborg Rapoport.

She was a Jewish-German physician who began her PhD studies in the 1930s but was unable to complete them due to the Nazi regime.

After a successful medical career, she decided to resume her studies in 2008 at the age of 94 at the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Her doctoral thesis focused on diphtheria and included research conducted in the 1930s, making her research especially significant.

In 2015, Rapoport successfully defended her thesis and earned her doctorate, becoming the oldest person in history to do so.

Her achievement received widespread recognition and admiration, and she demonstrated that age is just a number when it comes to academic achievement.

Wrapping up – doing a PhD later in life

In this article, we explore the unique challenges and rewards of pursuing a PhD later in life, drawing from the experiences of older PhD candidates.

Two case studies showcase the importance of determination, support systems, and practical experiences in successfully completing a doctoral program.

Life experience offers numerous benefits for older PhD students, such as a broader perspective, problem-solving skills, transferable skills, time management, an established professional network, emotional resilience, enhanced credibility, motivation and purpose, adaptability, and mentorship opportunities.

Age should not be a barrier to pursuing a PhD, as older candidates often bring valuable real-world experience and knowledge to their research.

Key advantages of pursuing a PhD in your 40s include greater maturity, real-world experience, stronger mental health, financial resources, less need for validation, better relationships with professors, and research relevance.

Drawbacks may include time constraints, additional life commitments, potential need for relocation, opportunity cost, difficulty in obtaining tenure, and lower return on investment.

The oldest person to earn a PhD was 95-year-old Ingeborg Rapoport, exemplifying that it’s never too late to follow your academic dreams.

math phd later in life

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

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Taking On the Ph.D. Later in Life

math phd later in life

By Mark Miller

  • April 15, 2016

ROBERT HEVEY was fascinated by gardening as a child, but then he grew up and took a 30-year career detour. Mr. Hevey earned a master’s in business and became a certified public accountant, working for accounting firms and businesses ranging from manufacturing to enterprise software and corporate restructuring.

“I went to college and made the mistake of getting an M.B.A. and a C.P.A.,” he recalled with a laugh.

Now 61, Mr. Hevey is making up for lost time. He’s a second-year Ph.D. student in a plant biology and conservation program offered jointly by Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Mr. Hevey, whose work focuses on invasive species, started on his master’s at age 53, and he expects to finish his doctorate around five years from now, when he will be 66.

“When I walk into a classroom of 20-year-olds, I do raise the average age a bit,” he says.

While the overall age of Ph.D. candidates has dropped in the last decade, about 14 percent of all doctoral recipients are over age 40, according to the National Science Foundation. Relatively few students work on Ph.D.s at Mr. Hevey’s age, but educators are seeing increasing enrollment in doctoral programs by students in their 40s and 50s. Many candidates hope doctorates will help them advance careers in business, government and nonprofit organizations; some, like Mr. Hevey, are headed for academic research or teaching positions.

At Cornell University, the trend is driven by women. The number of new female doctoral students age 36 or older was 44 percent higher last year than in 2009, according to Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the graduate school.

“One of the shifts nationally is more emphasis on career paths that call for a Ph.D.,” Dr. Knuth said. “Part of it is that we have much more fluidity in career paths. It’s unusual for people to hold the same job for many years.”

“The people we see coming back have a variety of reasons,” she added. “It could be a personal interest or for career advancement. But they are very pragmatic and resilient: strong thinkers, willing to ask questions and take a risk in their lives.”

Many older doctoral candidates are motivated by a search for meaning, said Katrina Rogers, president of Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, Calif., which offers programs exclusively for adult learners in psychology, human and organizational development and education.

“Students are asking what they can do with the rest of their lives, and how they can have an impact,” she said. “They are approaching graduate school as a learning process for challenging themselves intellectually, but also along cognitive and emotional lines.”

Making a home for older students also makes business sense for universities and colleges, said Barbara Vacarr, director of the higher education initiative at, a nonprofit organization focused on midlife career change. “The convergence of an aging population and an undersupply of qualified traditional college students are both a call to action and an opportunity for higher education.”

Some schools are serving older students in midcareer with pragmatic doctoral programs that can be completed more quickly than the seven or eight years traditionally required to earn a Ph.D. Moreover, many of those do not require candidates to spend much time on campus or even leave their full-time jobs.

That flexibility can help with the cost of obtaining a doctorate. In traditional programs, costs can range from $20,000 a year to $50,000 or more — although for some, tuition expenses are offset by fellowships. The shorter programs are less costly. The total cost at Fielding, for example, is $60,000.

Susan Noyes, an occupational therapist in Portland, Me., with 20 years’ experience under her belt, returned to school at age 40 for a master’s degree in adult education at the University of Southern Maine, then pursued her Ph.D. at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. During that time, she continued to work full time and raise three children. She finished the master’s at 44 — a confidence-builder that persuaded her to work toward a Ph.D. in adult learning, which she earned at age 49.

Dr. Noyes, 53, made two visits annually to Lesley’s campus during her doctoral studies, usually for a week to 10 days. She now works as an assistant professor of occupational therapy at the University of Southern Maine.

At the outset of her graduate education, Dr. Noyes wasn’t looking for a career change. Instead, she wanted to update her skills and knowledge in the occupational therapy field. But she soon found herself excited by the chance to broaden her intellectual horizons. “I’ve often said I accidentally got my Ph.D.,” she said.

Lisa Goff took the traditional Ph.D. path, spending eight years getting her doctorate in history. An accomplished business journalist, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in history at the University of Virginia in 2001 while working on a book project. Later, she decided to keep going for her doctorate, which she earned in 2010, the year she turned 50. Her research is focused on cultural history, with a special interest in landscapes.

Dr. Goff had planned to use the degree to land a job in a museum, but at the time, museum budgets were being cut in the struggling economy. Instead, a university mentor persuaded her to give teaching a try. She started as an adjunct professor in the American studies department at the University of Virginia, which quickly led to a full-time nontenure-track position. This year, her fourth full year teaching, her position was converted to a tenure-track job.

“I thought an academic job would be grueling — not what I wanted at all,” she recalls. “But I love being in the classroom, finding ways to get students to contribute and build rapport with them.”

As a graduate student, she never found the age gap to be a challenge. “Professors never treated me as anything but another student, and the other students were great to me,” Dr. Goff said. The toughest part of the transition, she says, was the intellectual shock of returning to a rigorous academic environment. “I was surprised to see just how creaky my classroom muscles were,” she recalled. “I really struggled in that first class just to keep up.”

Mr. Hevey agrees, saying he has experienced more stress in his academic life than in the business world. “I’m using my brain in such a different way now. I’m learning something new every day.”

His advice to anyone considering a similar move? “Really ask yourself if this is something you want to do. If you think it would just be nice to be a student again, that’s wrong. It’s not a life of ease: You’ll be working all the time, perhaps for seven or eight years.”

Mr. Hevey does not expect to teach, but he does hope to work in a laboratory or do research. “I’m certainly not going to start a new career at 66 or 67,” he said. “But I’m not going to go home and sit on the couch, either.”

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Advice and Resources for Mathematics Graduate Students

Advice and Resources for Mathematics Graduate Students


A PhD Student’s Perspective on landing an industry position

Yuxin Wang (UM Math PhD 2021) wrote to share her perspective and process on finding a rewarding career after graduation. Yuxin’s advisor was Sijue Wu. Yuxin’s words:

My PhD Student Perspective: landing an industry position

The purpose of this narrative is to provide a data point about career choices outside of academia. In particular, it tells the story of how a pure Math PhD student ended up with a position in the quantitative finance industry. 

Why industry 

Many people come to graduate school knowing that they would be a professor someday, and I was never one of them. While being a Mathematician is the goal, I was also aware of the scarcity of jobs in academia, so the idea of an industry job has also always been on my mind. The situation worsened when it came closer to graduation, since the academic job market had been hard hit by the COVID pandemic. With the fierce competition for postdoc positions, an industry position started to sound more like a real possibility. I thus started my industry job search in August just before my fifth year as a PhD student. 

How I prepared 

While the job search happened in my fifth year, the preparation started much earlier. Throughout the years as a graduate student, I attended career workshops every now and then to learn about the options that a Math PhD student typically have. One resource that has been particularly useful is the “Invitation to Industry” series held by the Erdös Institute and the Math department, where people with STEM PhD degrees would talk about what their jobs are, what it takes to succeed in their roles, how they ended up in their current positions, and thoughts on their career development process in general. 

From these talks, I came to understand that some of the most common industry job options for Math PhD students are quants, software engineers, and data scientists, all of which are computation related. As such, I have been taking computational courses either in school or online since my first year in grad school. These include, for instance, Scientific computing (where I learned Bash scripting and C/C++), Numerical linear algebra and differential equations, Stochastic process, Computational finance, Convex optimization, etc. None of these had been essential for landing an industry job, but a breadth of knowledge in these fields would certainly help. 

In hindsight, while taking classes was helpful, one could certainly learn faster through practice. In my case, I attended the bootcamp organized by the Erdös Institute, which was made available to us completely free, and which covered all the necessary programming, data science, and traditional machine learning knowledge. I had the chance to work in a team on a company-sponsored real world data problem, and as a pleasant surprise, the sponsor was impressed with our work and was willing to consider us for full-time opportunities. I did not end up working for the sponsor company eventually, but the exposure to real world problems proved helpful in my job search process. 

The bootcamp was by no means the only way of gaining practical experience. Many companies and research institutes offer internship programs, and these are excellent opportunities for one to practice their coding and analytical skills, to enrich their resumes, and to provide something to talk about in job interviews. 

About the job search 

When I attended the career talks, many speakers would depict their job search process as being smooth and straightforward. It is not true in my case. The first few weeks of my job search was daunting. I started applying to all kinds of industry positions in August, ranging from machine learning engineers to data analysts. I wanted to test the water first, so none of these positions were in my dream company, but it was still disappointing to receive rejection without even being interviewed. 

Stressed out, I reached out to more people on LinkedIn and used more help with reviewing my resume (U of Michigan career center and the Erdös Institute both offer such services). Then finally I started to receive interview invitations. As a hindsight, my previous rejections were probably partially due to the fact that I wasn’t as devoted to those positions; nonetheless, there are two things that I learned from this process:

  • Companies often receive hundreds and thousands of resumes for a single position, and most resumes are not even read by a real person. And the way to get my resume read is to either reach out to the hiring managers directly, or to use as many keywords from the job description as possible. I found a website called ResumeWorded (it is free thanks to U of Michigan career center), that rates one’s resume and makes suggestions according to the job description. I was shocked to see that my resume only got a 64% match to the job description, which probably explained all the rejections I got. I started to refine my resume according to every job description, and finally started to get invited to interviews. 
  • This is perhaps cliché, but the importance of networking is never to be underestimated. When people think of “networking”, many have the (understandably unpleasant) impression of crowded career fairs, networking events, or awkward phone calls; while in fact, networking can be spontaneous and even fun. I learned this through the “Designing Your Life Series” offered by Rackham – networking is like asking for directions in a foreign country. All we have to do is to be willing to introduce ourselves and talk with others. 

Eventually, my resume started to get noticed, and I interviewed for some quantitative researcher and data scientist positions. I did not get a single rejection from the companies that interviewed me, so I’m glad that I persisted despite all the rejections at the very beginning. Sometimes it’s not that we are incompetent, it’s that the right opportunity hasn’t come yet, and all we need to do is to learn from our own mistakes and keep trying. 

About the interviews

I will focus on my interviewing experience for the quantitative researcher positions only. 

My experience with SIG 

A year prior to my job search, I met Joey Thompson, a recruiter at Susquehanna International Group (SIG), at an “Invitation to Industry” talk (this is the same Joey as in Mark’s post ). Joey and two quantitative researchers at SIG came to give a series of talks about the company and their work as a quantitative researcher. I remember in the first talk with the Quant Finance master students, Joey asked if anyone knew the difference between an investment bank and a hedge fund, and nobody wanted to answer, so I raised my hand. At that moment, I was just trying to let the speaker feel welcome, having no idea that I would talk with him again in my job search. I guess this might have been a form of networking in a broad sense – and all I did was being willing to talk. 

After that, they held a brain teaser battle at Arbor Brewing Company, where Math grad students worked in groups to solve puzzles. The brain teaser battle was fun, and my group won the first place. Joey invited me, as well as some other Math grad students, to apply for their internship position; I ended up not applying right away since I felt under prepared. Looking back, it perhaps would have been a good idea to at least try to apply for an internship in my fourth year – check Mark’s post for how that would look like. 

I contacted Joey a year later to apply for the full-time quantitative researcher position, and was directed to an online assessment, which consisted of questions on Probability, Statistics, Calculus and Linear algebra. I received an invitation to the first phone interview shortly after completing the online assessment. 

Other than the online assessment, my interview experience with SIG is very similar to Mark’s . There are two rounds of phone interviews, a data exercise, and a full day of onsite interviews, which are virtual this year due to the pandemic. The level of difficulty increased gradually throughout the process, and I got the chance to work on some really interesting questions. I did stumble on some problems in the process, but the interviewers were willing to point me to the right direction, so not solving all the problems in the first attempt did not automatically disqualify me. 

General suggestions on interview preparation 

While I am not allowed to discuss any specific interview question, I would say that many of the quantitative researcher interviews contained questions in:

  • Probability. Most questions are just on probability calculation (i.e., not measure theoretic probability). Two resources that have been very useful in preparing for these kinds of questions are: A Practical Guide to Quantitative Finance Interviews , and 150 Most Frequently Asked Questions on Quant Interviews . 
  • Statistics. In addition to probability, knowing the basics of Bayesian statistics will be useful. Many companies also tested my knowledge on all kinds of regression techniques, so knowing how to derive them from scratch and how to interpret the results in a statistical sense would be helpful. 
  • Linear algebra. Math PhD students are in general acquainted with Linear algebra, but we tend to be more familiar with the abstractness than with the computation aspect. While the high level of understanding is crucial, it never hurts to refresh our memories of calculating eigenvalues, eigenvectors, matrix factorizations etc. I find the AIM QR exam in Linear algebra quite useful for this purpose. 
  • Coding. Since one common career path for Math PhD students is software engineering, I did a lot of practice on coding through Leetcode. A good understanding of the undergraduate-level algorithm and data structure is as important as the fluency in a coding language. In addition, knowing the basics about how computers work in general would be helpful. I learned some of these through GSI-ing for EECS 376, but there are other more direct ways to prepare. One resource that many people use to prepare for the coding interviews is Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle McDowell. 

Final remarks  

People make career transitions due to various reasons. For me, the hit of the pandemic is a pretty random direct cause, but my previous efforts exploring the industry possibilities are not irrelevant. In general, transitioning into industry as a Math PhD, though not trivial, would not be difficult either, since the solid background in Math puts one into a great position to learn all the skills that are required to perform an industry job. But just like any endeavor, it does take practice and preparation, and sometimes perseverance. If you would like to talk about any part of my story, feel free to email me at [email protected]

The purpose of this narrative is to provide a data point about career choices outside of academia. In particular, it tells the story of how a pure Math PhD student ended up with a position in the quantitative finance industry. 

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By Karen E Smith

Professor of Mathematics Associate Chair for Gradate Studies

math phd later in life

Ph.D. Program Overview


The graduate program in the field of mathematics at Cornell leads to the Ph.D. degree, which takes most students five to six years of graduate study to complete. One feature that makes the program at Cornell particularly attractive is the broad range of  interests of the faculty . The department has outstanding groups in the areas of algebra, algebraic geometry,  analysis, applied mathematics, combinatorics, dynamical systems, geometry, logic, Lie groups, number theory, probability, and topology. The field also maintains close ties with distinguished graduate programs in the fields of  applied mathematics ,  computer science ,  operations research , and  statistics .

Core Courses

A normal course load for a beginning graduate student is three courses per term. 

There are no qualifying exams, but the program requires that all students pass four courses to be selected from the six core courses. First-year students are allowed to place out of some (possibly, all) of the core courses. In order to place out of a course, students should contact the faculty member who is teaching the course during the current academic year, and that faculty member will make a decision. The minimum passing grade for the core courses is B-; no grade is assigned for placing out of a core course.

At least two core courses should be taken (or placed out) by the end of the first year. At least four core courses should be taken (or placed out) by the end of the second year (cumulative). These time requirements can be waived for students with health problems or other significant non-academic problems. They can be also waived for students who take time-consuming courses in another area (for example, CS) and who have strong support from a faculty; requests from such students should be made before the beginning of the spring semester. 

The core courses  are distributed among three main areas: analysis, algebra and topology/geometry. A student must pass at least one course from each group. All entering graduate students are encouraged to eventually take all six core courses with the option of an S/U grade for two of them. 

The six core courses are:

MATH 6110, Real Analysis

MATH 6120, Complex Analysis

MATH 6310, Algebra 1

MATH 6320, Algebra 2

MATH 6510, Introductory Algebraic Topology

MATH 6520, Differentiable Manifolds.

Students who are not ready to take some of the core courses may take MATH 4130-4140, Introduction to Analysis, and/or MATH 4330-4340, Introduction to Algebra, which are the honors versions of our core undergraduate courses.

"What is...?" Seminar

The "What Is...?" Seminar is a series of talks given by faculty in the graduate field of Mathematics. Speakers are selected by an organizing committee of graduate students. The goal of the seminar is to aid students in finding advisors.

Schedule for the "What Is...?" seminar

Special Committee

The Cornell Graduate School requires that every student selects a special committee (in particular, a thesis adviser, who is the chair or the committee) by the end of the third semester.

The emphasis in the Graduate School at Cornell is on individualized instruction and training for independent investigation. There are very few formal requirements and each student develops a program in conjunction with his or her special committee, which consists of three faculty members, some of which may be chosen from outside the field of mathematics. 

Entering students are not assigned special committees. Such students may contact any of the members on the Advising Committee if they have questions or need advice.

Current Advising Committee

Analysis / Probability / Dynamical Systems / Logic: Lionel Levine Geometry / Topology / Combinatorics: Kathryn Mann Probability / Statistics:  Philippe Sosoe Applied Mathematics Liaison: Richard Rand

Admission to Candidacy

To be admitted formally to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, the student must pass the oral admission to candidacy examination or A exam. This must be completed before the beginning of the student's fourth year. Upon passing the A exam, the student will be awarded (at his/her request) an M.S. degree without thesis.

The admission to candidacy examination is given to determine if the student is “ready to begin work on a thesis.” The content and methods of examination are agreed on by the student and his/her special committee before the examination. The student must be prepared to answer questions on the proposed area of research, and to pass the exam, he/she must demonstrate expertise beyond just mastery of basic mathematics covered in the core graduate courses. 

To receive an advanced degree a student must fulfill the residence requirements of the Graduate School. One unit of residence is granted for successful completion of one semester of full-time study, as judged by the chair of the special committee. The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of six residence units. This is not a difficult requirement to satisfy since the program generally takes five to six years to complete. A student who has done graduate work at another institution may petition to transfer residence credit but may not receive more than two such credits.

The candidate must write a thesis that represents creative work and contains original results in that area. The research is carried on independently by the candidate under the supervision of the chairperson of the special committee. By the time of the oral admission to candidacy examination, the candidate should have selected as chairperson of the committee the faculty member who will supervise the research. When the thesis is completed, the student presents his/her results at the thesis defense or B Exam. All doctoral students take a Final Examination (the B Exam, which is the oral defense of the dissertation) upon completion of all requirements for the degree, no earlier than one month before completion of the minimum registration requirement.

Masters Degree in the Minor Field

Ph.D. students in the field of mathematics may earn a Special Master's of Science in Computer Science. Interested students must apply to the Graduate School using a form available for this purpose. To be eligible for this degree, the student must have a member representing the minor field on the special committee and pass the A-exam in the major field. The rules and the specific requirements for each master's program are explained on the referenced page.

Cornell will award at most one master's degree to any student. In particular, a student awarded a master's degree in a minor field will not be eligible for a master's degree in the major field.

Graduate Student Funding

Funding commitments made at the time of admission to the Ph.D. program are typically for a period of five years. Support in the sixth year is available by application, as needed. Support in the seventh year is only available by request from an advisor, and dependent on the availability of teaching lines. Following a policy from the Cornell Graduate School, students who require more than seven years to complete their degree shall not be funded as teaching assistants after the 14th semester.

Special Requests

Students who have special requests should first discuss them with their Ph.D. advisor (or with a field member with whom they work, if they don't have an advisor yet). If the advisor (or field faculty) supports the request, then it should be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies.  

math phd later in life

  • Life After a PhD: What Can You Do?
  • After a PhD

So, you’ve passed one of the biggest milestones in your life so far (or at least in your academic life!). You’ll have spent at least 7 years at university on a journey that’s taken you from sitting in your first lecture as an undergraduate student to finally handing in your PhD thesis and making it through the viva. This is a time for celebration and of excitement of what the future holds. But it can also be a time of uncertainty, where you’re presented with so many options for your immediate next steps that you’re not sure where to start.

Here are some thoughts we’ve put together to help you in your decision making in case you are wondering what to you with your PhD.

A common option used by fresh PhD graduates is to stay on within their lab environment for the first month or two, but this time in a part- or full-time teaching capacity. This will ensure you have some money coming in now that the stipend payments have finished and can be an excellent way to build up some teaching experience (although you’re likely to have done this throughout the course of your time as a PhD student).

If your department or institution has teaching opportunities available, then it should be a fairly straightforward transition to this new role; you’ll already be familiar with the environment and know the team well.

Keep in mind though that whilst you may gain experience working within your old lab or department, you might gain more from taking up a teaching post within a new setup that you’re not familiar with. This could be a good way to widen your network and learn more about how things are done in different departments, even within the same university.

The key thing is to view this teaching role as a temporary position while you explore your options for the next big step in your career development.

A natural progression for someone just having completed their PhD (and in particular someone keen on developing their career in academia) is to take on a post-doctoral role either within your current lab or a different one.

Post-docs positions usually last between one and three years, and most researchers gain experience by completing several positions at different institutions. The roles are funded, offering a generous step-up from your PhD stipend and are a good way to start developing your own ideas and thoughts as to which direction you want to take your research in.

Post-docs publish quite a bit and present at conferences; this is also an excellent opportunity to work more collaboratively with senior academics within your field.

Know that securing a post-doc job can become very competitive, particularly in the leading universities within your area of research. This is definitely a time where building a strong network can pay dividends – a strong CV with a developing track record of publications is also valuable.

Life Outside of Research

You may be one of a growing number of people that decide at the completion of their PhD that a career based in research and at a university is not for you. You can have a great sense of freedom when you know what you want out of life.

Just because you decide on a path outside of academia, does not mean that your years of study have been for nothing. In fact, the opposite is true – in completing your PhD, you’ll have built a set of skills and knowledge that are highly sought after by many employers.

Your CV will show that you’re self-motivated, able to work well both within a team and individually, keep to deadlines and can present complex ideas.

Highly educated, skilled people are in high demand by the commercial sector; you should have no trouble tailoring your CV to something very appealing to them.

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Getting a PhD in Your 50s and 60s: The Ultimate Guide

There’s a significant rise in the number of mature students returning to university to complete postgraduate degrees. You plan to be one of them. But you find yourself asking if it is feasible to start getting a PhD in your 50s and 60s. 

It’s never too late getting a PhD in your 50s and 60s because there’s no age limit in the pursuit of higher education. To give you a head start on this exciting new endeavor, we present to you the ultimate guide to getting a PhD in your prime years.

It is critical to know what to expect, such as the challenges and benefits of reviving an academic existence as a mid- or late-career student, so you can plan for the years ahead. Read on to find out how.

Why You Should Pursue a PhD at a Later Stage in Life

Why would anyone in their right mind regurgitate a period of woe and misery in their golden years when they should already be relaxing? Well, many people, not just nerds, love studying. 

There’s an entire population dedicated to life-long learning. They form the bulk of those going back to school to complete degrees that were halted mid-life due to the untimely arrival of kids, financial downfall, death in the family, or other unfortunate circumstances. These mature students don’t need a reason to return to school. Their passion drives them.

For others, the purpose is economical. Those in the middle of their career embark on a PhD to change its direction, improve their prospects, upgrade their qualification set, or to accrue further knowledge. In fields like teaching and research, a doctorate is a veritable advantage.

Nina Grunfeld , founder of Life Clubs , a network that helps people achieve life changes, explains that many, particularly women, want to return to study because they’re disgruntled or have a desire to improve themselves, revive their career, or discover new passions.

“A milestone age is often a trigger,” Grunfeld adds.

“At the Open University , favored by many part-time learners, numbers of postgraduate students over the age of 45 have been increasing steadily for the past three years, with the greatest rise (32%) in students over 65.”

Others undertake a PhD to crown a significant achievement or just to prove they can do it. This writer’s friend did it to slap her diploma in the face of her wealthy future sister-in-law, who denigrated her economic status. Education, after all, is one of the world’s greatest equalizers. 

Most crave a PhD for the prestige the three letters can add to their names. If, however, you have a natural yearning for knowledge and in-depth study of a subject you’re passionate about, the heck with your age. Go for it!

Getting a PhD in Your 50s and 60s: the Ultimate Guide

Reasons Not to Get a PhD

Thoroughly assess your reasons for pursuing a PhD, because although it’s fulfilling academically, it’s also a huge financial commitment. If you’re dissatisfied with your current job, or you think it would just be fun to be a student again, neither will give you the strength to withstand the rigors of extreme study.

On the other hand, if you’re sure that gaining this qualification will fit in with your life goals, then forge ahead!

The Benefits of Pursuing a PhD

Do you want a research doctorate, or do you want to teach? Both are the standard reasons for undertaking PhD studies. Once completed, a PhD will make you an expert in your chosen field, possibly even beyond borders!

Apart from aspects previously mentioned, especially beneficial for older people is the fact that learning builds new neural connections that improve cognitive ability, memory function, and problem-solving ability. Education is also good for boosting one’s spirit. Classroom or online learning is a social endeavor that breaks isolation and fosters social connections. 

According to the American Council on Education , social connection with teachers and peers is one of the reasons mature students over 50 pursue higher learning.

There are retirement communities (some located on campus) that partner with colleges and universities to offer residents post-secondary courses. Most of these are on the East Coast, but there are a couple in California and Florida.

Political scientist Chris Blattman explains how a PhD intangibly molds an individual: “A PhD program doesn’t just teach you, it socializes you. It gradually changes what you think is interesting and important, the peer group you compare yourself to, the value you place on leisure and family over career, and the kind of life you will value when you emerge.”

How Long Does It Take to Complete a PhD Program?

Most full-time students can complete theirs in five to six years. Part-timers can take as long as eight to 10 years. Students with a master’s degree complete their PhD in four or five years.

Some programs, like the MACRM (Master of Arts in Public Policy with Certificate in Research Methods) at the University of Chicago’s Harris Public Policy , offer a combination of methods. This master’s program provides intense and applied research training plus the option of a PhD at the end.

Study Methods

Studying for a PhD here is different compared to Europe. Our students are usually in direct contact with their professors. They’re expected to do a lot of teaching and marking, which encroaches on their free time off-campus. The earlier you accept this, the better you’ll cope and adopt solutions.

According to the World Economic Forum , the USA had the most doctoral graduates in 2017: 71,000. Germany and the UK followed, with 28,000 each.

In 2016, about 14% of all doctoral recipients were over age 40, per the National Science Foundation . Educators see increasing enrollment in doctoral programs by students in their 40s and 50s.

At Cornell University , women drive the trend . “The number of new female doctoral students age 36 or older was 44% higher in 2015 than in 2009,” says Barbara Knuth , senior vice provost and dean of the graduate school.

What Are the Requirements?

Generally, a PhD applicant should have completed a relevant undergraduate degree. Ideally, he should have also secured a master’s degree (with substantial research) in a related subject. Thankfully, this is optional here. Most PhD programs in the US, unlike in the UK, don’t require a master’s degree for admission. Students can move straight to doing a PhD with an undergraduate degree.

Here’s a sample of PhD requirements from the University of California, Berkeley , a public research university regarded as one of our most prestigious. This is a list of their graduate programs and application deadlines. We chose Berkeley as an example, because it had the highest number of top-ranked doctoral programs nationwide, according to a National Research Council report .

Required documentation includes, but isn’t limited to official transcripts, course descriptions from previous institutions attended, proof of language proficiency, references, and cover letters.

How to Apply

For admission to your chosen institution, visit its website. Check its rankings, course listings, faculty, and requirements specific to your field of study. Talk to other students and professors, learn about your desired department, and uncover the social scene.

Deadlines for applications to PhD programs are usually between December and February. You’ll get an answer by April. Most institutions recommend that you apply way in advance to give both parties plenty of time for arrangements. They require international students to have a TOEFL score of around 90, but this varies depending on the institution.

In Europe, students choose their PhD subject area before they apply. Here, potential PhD students can take up to a year or two deciding on their research subject while attending classes at a graduate level. Students normally apply to more than one institution—and separately because there’s no central organization that processes applications.

Students in Europe are expected to apply with existing knowledge of the subject via a master’s degree. They begin PhD studies right away. Here, universities accept that students don’t have an in-depth understanding of their subject and permit them to decide later.

Tips to Get a (Slight) Advantage

Get the best quality general research pre-training possible. Apply to as many top schools as you can. Visit all the institutions that accepted you. Narrow down your choices according to fit and quality.

Applying to many places is crucial because the admissions process is competitive and random. Whittling 100 promising candidates down to 30 is subjective. Even outstanding candidates might not be admitted.

Institutions are more likely to admit you if you demonstrate a good fit with their faculty. That’s why you have to research the faculty and their work, and explain how you fit in. Mention in your cover letter the staff members you see as complementary to your research. Note that deciding committees in politics programs take cover letters more seriously than their counterparts in economics.

Strive to gain entry into one of the top 10 schools in your field because it gives you a better chance at an academic job. This is true in economics, the most hierarchical field in social science.

Which University Should You Attend?

Getting a PhD in Your 50s and 60s: the Ultimate Guide

Rankings shouldn’t be the main deciding factor, but they’re an excellent indicator of educational expertise. To choose the best from the 4,000 nationwide, see this list of our best universities in 2020 and how they feature in worldwide rankings. The top five are Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Princeton.

How to Choose the Right Institution

Consider these factors.

Your field of study, their programs, specialties, facilities, and faculty rating. Your choice depends on your preferred career and the course credit you’ve accumulated. 

If you’re certain about your field of interest and feel confident it will sustain you for the entire program, you’ll have a greater chance of getting accepted.

Researching their specialties will tell you if they’re appropriate for your area of study. See what areas they’ve worked in, their study focus, what they’ve published, and how well their work has been received. Also, investigate the quality of their student-faculty, as a postgrad study is collaborative and intense. You need to have the right people in your group.

What is the university best known for? Choose one renowned in the field you’re interested in to ensure you have the appropriate experts on hand to help you. Evaluate the kinds of research projects done in the university.

Choosing a venue depends on your circumstances. Staying near your home allows you to work part-time while studying. Most PhDs require only occasional visits to the university, so you may opt to take the course far from home, then travel when necessary. Alternatively, you could move closer to your university for greater immersion into the social scene and a closer connection to the student community.

If you choose to study away from home, contact your chosen university’s accommodation office first. Many university towns have student accommodation in place, but spots tend to go quickly, so apply early. Next, research on- and off-campus accommodation. Check online local listings and bulletin boards for private rentals.

Social Life

Check out student life on social media. What organizations do they have? Are they the sort you would want to join?

Staff/Student Ratio

The more staff available to each student, the better.

Choose From These Categories of Institutions

  • Public Universities (aka state colleges)—open to anyone who qualifies. They’re funded by state governments. Being larger, they can accommodate many students and offer a wide variety of degree programs. Some offer scholarships.
  • Private Non-Profit Colleges —their tuition is much higher than that of state universities or community colleges, but they don’t profit from it. As they’re smaller, they offer specific courses and specialized degrees. They receive funds only from tuition fees and donations.
  • Private For-Profit Colleges —similar to non-profits in course study and general cost, but they’re set up as a business. This affects the type of degree programs offered.
  • Liberal Arts Colleges —offer one expansive area of study rather than specific degree tracks. As they’re smaller, instructors give you more attention. Though most focus on undergraduate education, some offer good postgraduate degree programs too. Campus culture is quite different from that of a traditional university.
  • Online Postgraduate Colleges —perfect for those juggling jobs and family as it offers flexibility in assignment completion. Most coursework and classroom discussions are held online, but you may have to go to a physical classroom part of the time, especially as you get closer to graduation. An online degree is as valuable as one you physically attend.

Ask Your Intended University These Questions

  • What are my chances of finding a job after graduation? See the career prospects below.
  • How flexible is your program? This depends on the subject area. The Humanities and the Arts offer a greater degree of flexibility than science-oriented ones. North American institutions offer slightly less flexibility than their European counterparts. See whether you can pick and choose components, or if the whole program is indelibly fixed from beginning to end.
  • What research resources are available? Decent computer networks and an equipped library are not enough. Serious research requires office-based administration support, reprographic services, and essentials of a proper business center. Disregard any institution that lacks support.
  • How versatile is your department? Some departments prefer one research method. Others favor newer ones, non-traditional teaching styles, or a radical approach. Extensive departments offer a wider spectrum of methods and potential areas of study. You may thrive better with a broader tradition of research methodologies or value the security of knowing what is expected of you.
  • What are your non-academic amenities? Also, check out other facilities, like leisure programs, for maintaining a work/life balance. Small universities in remote towns offer lesser cultural or social options.

How to Get Into a Top Institution

Entry into the top 10 or 15 schools is extremely competitive. Focus on getting exceptional recommendations, experience, grades, and GRE scores. Most departments appoint a small committee of four to six faculty members for admissions. The committee changes every year, so results are hard to predict.

Work on research projects with professors. Try before you commit. Become a research assistant (RA) in your department or secure RA jobs with professors in top departments in your area. This will help with references and your statement.

How to Fund Your Studies

Getting a PhD in Your 50s and 60s: the Ultimate Guide

The cost of traditional programs can vary between $20,000 to $60,000 per year. Shorter programs are cheaper. If a PhD is going to drown you in debt, think twice. Attend an institution with full funding if you can. This is often a barter deal: free tuition in exchange for research and teaching.

Another reason for applying in advance is to give plenty of time to arrange funding. Deadlines for application for funding can be as early as December for studies beginning in the fall. Many students can get part or full funding through scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, loans, and government assistance. Help is also available for parents, such as childcare subsidies, single-parent grants, bursaries, and free school meals for children.

Some PhD students will receive a university stipend with an assistantship position, but this varies between institutions and between departments within institutions. This is an example from Cornell University . Many government schemes like The Fulbright Program offer scholarships.

You can also obtain bursaries from abroad. An example is the Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries in the UK, open to all nationalities. In Canada, senior citizens can have their tuition waived for one undergraduate and graduate degree.

What to Do After Admission

Once you’ve secured funding and accommodation, these are the next steps:

Find a Supervisor

Write your research proposal if you’re self-proposing your PhD. Then find an institution and a supervising academic to support you during your research. Choose those with whom you’ll work well. To achieve this, you must network and meet people in your field of research.

Apply for an Assistantship

Doctorate assistantships are advertised on university websites and wherever academic jobs are advertised. Applications for these are very competitive, so apply for several.

Clarify Duties in Your Department

While researching and writing, many PhD students take on additional responsibilities, such as helping professors and lecturers with their classes or marking and evaluating undergraduate work. These extra tasks may be paid or not.

Prepare for Your Dissertation Early

A dissertation is a means to contribute new knowledge, theories, or practices to your field. Introduce an entirely new concept, develop it, and defend its worth. Your dissertation should be around 70,000 to 100,000 words.

Your subject area will determine if you have to write your dissertation while attending classes or do so after research completion. Regardless, preps always help at crunch time.

You are expected to defend your dissertation with a public presentation. Afterward, you will have a private session with the dissertation committee to evaluate if you’ve earned your doctorate. This is why it’s important to have a positive relationship with faculty, peers, and supervisors.

Career Prospects 

What type of job can you expect after graduation?

Traditionally, graduate school hones students to become future scholars and live an intellectual life, produce innovative research, and become professors at four-year institutions. Fulfilling research careers are plentiful, but there are other ways PhD recipients can use their degrees to benefit society. For instance, they can pursue alternative academic careers in K-12 administration or the nonprofit sector.

The top 10 to 20 schools staff the top 100 to 200 universities. So PhDs outside the top 30 schools are unlikely to lead to careers in research universities, though this varies by discipline. Graduates of lower-ranked programs can work for the government or at teaching universities, international institutions, and think tanks. Job satisfaction rates are usually high.

If you aim to teach in a business department in a community college or a four-year school, an MBA may be enough. You need a doctorate, however, for a full-time job at a four-year teaching-focused school. Community colleges may hire you full-time with just a master’s, but you’ll be competing against those with doctorates.

Jobs should properly compensate you for the time spent completing your PhD. Ask your targeted institutions what the employment rate is for their graduates and their links to prospective employers. Institutions with strong ties to private companies offer more chances of future employment.

Ultimately, it boils down to your chosen subject matter. Some PhD courses like law will definitely enhance your career. Non-vocational fields like Greek mythology, however, are less likely to improve your future earning capacity or alter your career trajectory. Intellectually, of course, the reward is priceless.

Advantages of Being an Older Student

The obvious one is that your decision to return to university is likely the result of planning over several years, not a rushed, uneducated hack at the dartboard. This gives you ample time to choose your field of study.

Your work experience, professionalism, people skills, and ability to manage multiple commitments will prove invaluable throughout your studies. Course tutors also treat older students differently than their younger, undergraduate counterparts—in a good way.

Keeping Up With the Young Ones

Despite there being no age barriers in a PhD entry, age makes a difference somewhat on campus. The gap in the life experience of a young adult and a mature student is vast. The ramifications for the latter have to do with social life, interactions during class discussions and group projects, and how older students are treated by professors and non-academic staff.

For an Equal Footing…

Join organizations, societies, and sports clubs. These aren’t exclusive to undergraduate students. Not all activities are drunken, drug-crazed meet-ups. Being a part of a campus association could benefit your career development in the way of learning a unique skill or developing a new interest.

Maintaining a Balance

Many mature students return to school juggling study with family and work commitments. This makes prioritizing studies challenging. Some, especially working moms, feel guilty about not giving everyone equal attention. So they study part-time or employ creative means to manage their time.

Avenues of Support

As a mature student, you may wonder how you’ll cope with the demands of scholastic life as you’ve been out of academia for many years and can’t remember the last time you wrote an essay.

Fear not. Most universities run workshops on topics like researching, essay writing, referencing, and library use—usually at the start of the academic year. Approach your university for help with matters off-limits to family and friends. Ask your tutor for advice. Your cohort group is also a source of support and shared experiences.

The Value of Networking 

Although a PhD elevates academic achievement, it doesn’t guarantee employment in your field. Networking adds value to your career and provides growth opportunities. Relationships ease career transitions needed to pursue better opportunities. Give back by sharing your connections and expertise.

Ageism and Sexism in Academia

US universities may not be perfect, but education-related discrimination is minimal compared to many countries. Be thankful for this, and take advantage of the privilege. To illustrate what women PhD applicants have to deal with in other countries, in China , you cannot apply for a PhD after age 40.

In the Philippines, admissions departments ask invasive questions and request antiquated requirements, such as copies of marriage certificates. These are requested from both foreign and local applicants but ONLY WOMEN. You may think this requirement is from a patriarchal provincial college, but it’s an item from actual requirement lists from two of the country’s Ivy League universities, which are supposed to be progressive.

The pursuit of a PhD is a life-changer. We trust the pathways we presented will help you make the right choice based on your needs and preferred course of study. Good luck with your aspirations in higher education, which will hopefully lead to your dream career. The fulfillment will surely be unparalleled. 

A Scottish student in her 50s encapsulates the postgraduate sentiment impeccably: “There is value to being an older PhD student, and there is value to universities having us. There just needs to be more of us.”

  • PhD Studies: Three Reasons Why It’s Never Too Late to Get a PhD
  • The New York Times: Taking On the PhD Later in Life
  • The Independent: Real late starter—age is no obstacle if you’re motivated
  • World Economic Forum: Which countries have the most doctoral graduates?
  • The World University Rankings: Best Universities in the United States 2020
  • The World University Rankings: World University Rankings 2020
  • Berkeley Graduate Division: Graduate Programs & Deadlines to Apply
  • Berkeley News: National Research Council ranks UC Berkeley’s PhD programs among nation’s best
  • Thesis Rush: Can You Get A PhD Without Masters? Let’s Find Out!
  • Senior Living Blog: University-Based Retirement Communities
  • Inside Higher Ed: Receiving Your Doctorate to Work at a Community College?
  • Quora: What is the lowest accepted GPA for Harvard admission?
  • How to apply for a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary
  • Save the Student: 10 ways American unis are different from UK unis
  • Postgrad: PhD in UK
  • Postgrad: PhD in USA
  • Postgrad: Graduate School USA
  • Postgrad: How To Get A PhD
  • Postgrad: Studying for a PhD—the basics
  • Postgrad: 5 Steps to Getting Ready for Postgrad Study in the USA
  • Postgrad: Common PhD Myths
  • Postgrad: What? Where? Why? When? How? Is A Phd Right For Me?
  • Postgrad: 5 Things To Ask When Looking For A Phd
  • Postgrad: What Are the Different Types of Postgraduate University in the US?
  • Postgrad: PhD Studentships

Hey there, my name is Anja, I’ve seen and supported my mom’s incredible transformation in her fifties. Seeing how my mom “awakened” and took full control over her life really impressed me. I got inspired and started dreaming about how we could inspire more people, especially women, to open up and create a second life for themselves. That’s how the idea of came to life…

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New Graduate Students

We are thrilled that you will be joining the Berkeley Mathematics community this Fall! This page contains pertinent information that will help get you started as a graduate student at Berkeley. 

Complete New Student Onboarding 

You've accepted our offer; now help the Office of the Registrar prepare your student record by completing the "Scheduled Tasks" found on the "My Dashboard" tab of your  CalCentral  account. Scheduled tasks typically include completing the Statement of Legal Residence (SLR), immunizations form, and for international students, the Non-immigrant Information Form (NIF). In addition, you will be required to complete  two mandatory Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment Prevention trainings (online and in-person) . You will receive more information on these requirements via CalCentral and from the department. Thus, it's important that you regularly check your CalCentral account for important campus notifications and tasks. 

For International Students - Obtaining Documents for your Visa Application via the NIF 

The Berkeley International Office (BIO) provides student advising to international students across campus and is responsible for issuing visa documents to all incoming international students. We highly encourage all international students to complete the NIF (Non-immigrant Information Form) as soon as possible in order to have plenty of time to gather the documents required to apply for a student visa. Your departmental offer letter (w/ signature) can serve as proof of financial support. If you need assistance locating your departmental offer letter please contact Christian Natividad at  [email protected] . We also recommend you visit  BIO's website  for new students as you will find a wealth of resources specific to international student arrival including information on visas, housing, money, enrollment, transportation, and health care. 

On this page:  Important Dates & Planning your Arrival  

Important Dates • Arrival • Housing Resources • Financial Matters • Medical Reminders • Student Groups

Orientation & Academics

Prelim Info • Math Orientation • Fall Enrollment 

Employment as a GSI or GSR  

GSI/GSR Overview • Requirements for 1st time GSIs • Language Requirements • Resources for GSIs

Campus Resources

Variety of useful Links 

Graduate Program Contacts  

Contact Info 

Important Dates & Planning your Arrival

Important dates: .

  • Prelim Workshop  -  TBD (2024 schedule will be posted late June/early July).
  • Enrollment Opens for New Graduate Students -   Friday, July 19, 2024
  • Mathematics Graduate Student Orientation -  Wednesday, August 21, 2024, 1015 Evans - Full-day program
  • Teaching Conference for first-time  international  GSIs  (REQUIRED)  - Thursday, August 22, 2024
  • Teaching Conference for  all  first-time GSIs  (REQUIRED for domestic & international)  - Friday, August 23, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Math Prelim Exam s  - Monday, August 26 & Tuesday, August 27. This exam will be held in person.
  • Fall 2024 Graduate Division Graduate Student Orientation   - TBD.  Registration is required.
  • First Day of Fall Semester  - Wednesday, August 21, 2024
  • Practice Prelim  - TBD
  • First Day of Fall Instruction  - Wednesday, August 28, 2024
  • Grad-stravaganza  - Wednesday, September 4, 2024 from 4-6 p.m.

Planning your Arrival 

This summer, we recommend that you arrive in the Bay Area as early as possible in order to get settled for your first year of graduate study. An arrival in early August would be ideal so that you can participate in the prelim prep workshop and complete HR onboarding for new GSIs in advance of your appointment start date (8/1/24). We understand that international students may only enter the country within 30 days of their I-20 or DS-2019 start date - again we recommend arriving as early as your schedule allows. 

Our department orientation (8/21) is not required, but it is highly encouraged that you attend. Not only will you be able to meet your fellow classmates, but we'll also be reviewing campus and department resources, program requirements and expectations, and will host our own Sexual Violence Sexual Harrassment Training, which satisfies the university's in-person SVSH training requirement. We'll also end the day with the office draw!  

Please note that for those of you serving as a GSI this fall, you are required to attend the Teaching Conference for New GSIs and first-time international GSIs are required to attend the  Teaching in the U.S. Classroom Conference (tentative dates above).  

In summary, while it is encouraged that you arrive in Berkeley as early as possible (early/mid-July), the latest you can arrive and still attend all of the required trainings and take the fall prelim is mid-August.

Housing Resources in Berkeley   

University Campus Housing Website (for Ida Jackson, Manville, University Village)

CalRentals - University Listings for Off-Campus Housing and Summer Sublets

The Graduate Assembly's Housing Guide: Best Practices for Finding Housing

Berkeley International Office Housing Resources

SLMath Housing Links (Short-Term Housing)

Rent To Own Labs  (this site is unaffiliated with UC Berkeley)

*If you need a housing reference from the department please feel free to use Christian Natividad at  [email protected] . Please notify him in advance so he knows someone may be contacting him for more information. 

Financial Matters

Students in the Math Department are funded through a combination of sources including Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) salaries, fellowship stipends, university fellowships (Berkeley, Chancellor's, Regents, Ning, etc.) or external fellowships (NSF, NDSEG, NPSC, etc.). In order to receive fellowship payments from the university, students must be officially registered and in good standing. To be considered registered, you must be enrolled in at least one class, have had at least the first installment of fees paid, and have no registration blocks. Please note that full-time enrollment (12 units or a DSP approved reduced course load) is required to remain in compliance with fellowship policy. 

Here is an estimation of when you can expect to receive your first payments from the university (assuming you are a registered student at this time): 

  • GSI or GSR Salary if HR onboarding completed by communicated deadlines: ~September 1, 2024 (for August work); if HR onboarding completed after the deadline: ~October 1, 2024 (for August & September work)  
  • Department Relocation or recruitment stipends - last week of August 2024
  • University Fellowship Awards (Berkeley, Chancellor's, Ning, etc.) - last week of August 2024
  • External Fellowships - please refer to granting institution for pay dates  

 A delay in payment could be caused by not being considered a registered student, not having an up-to-date GLACIER record (for international students only), registration blocks, or department delays.  

To receive your fellowship payments via direct deposit please make sure to sign up for EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). The EFT website can also be accessed in CalCentral.

To receive your GSI/GSR salary payment via direct deposit please sign up for EFT during your HR onboarding session with Berkeley Regional Services - ERSO. After your GSI/GSR appointment has been processed by ERSO, you can also sign up for direct deposit via  UC Path .  If you plan to receive paper checks instead of signing up for direct deposit, please make sure your "Local Address" is correct in CalCentral . Direct deposit is STRONGLY recommended to receive payments.  

Also, please keep in mind that receiving  financial assistance from the university may have tax implications  that you are not very familiar with. University and department staff are not able to give tax advice so we encourage you to consult the  IRS website  for more information, and or a personal/family certified tax accountant for assistance.  

International students can find more information on U.S. taxes via the  Berkeley International Office website on tax reporting.  

If you have any questions regarding financial matters please don't hesitate to contact us. 

Stay Healthy! Medical Checklist and Immunization Information 

Once enrolled for the fall term, your  Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)  coverage will start on August 1, 2024 and run through December 31, 2024. Your spring 2024 coverage, once enrolled, starts January 1, 2025 - July 31, 2025. If you have alternate health insurance coverage and do not want to enroll in SHIP please submit your waiver to the University Health Services (UHS) by the deadline in mid-July - see link below for more information and to submit the waiver. Before arriving, please review the new student medical checklist below so that you come prepared for any medical emergencies that may arise. Also, please make sure to review the UC Immunization Requirement policy either via the link below or through your CalCentral account.   

New Student Medical Checklist

UC Immunization Requirement

Information on Waiving SHIP - Deadline ~July 15, 202 4 

Connect with your New Berkeley Math Friends  

The Noetherian Ring - Women and Gender Minorities in the Department of Mathematics at UC Berkeley  

MGSA  &  MGSA Wiki

Unbounded Representation URep (website TBD) 

Berkeley GEMS - Gender Equity in Mathematical Studies 

More information on the Math Grad Life website

Orientation & Academics 

Prelim workshop & prelim exam .

(This prelim section is for Math and Applied Math graduate students only. Logic students can find more information on program requirements and the  Logic prelim exams here. ) 

Taking the prelim exam is the first requirement math graduate students will attempt in the program. All graduate students are required to pass the exam within their first three semesters of the program. It is held every semester (fall & spring) on the Monday and Tuesday mornings before instruction begins. This fall the exam will be held on  Monday, August 26 and Tuesday, August 27.  

The purpose of the prelim exam is to make sure that graduate students have sufficient working knowledge of foundational undergraduate material in the early stages of the PhD program, and to give early feedback on gaps in knowledge. Its intention is not to weed out students, but rather help strengthen one's understanding of core material. There is no penalty for having to retake the exam more than once so we recommend students take the exam in the fall. 

The Prelim Exam also gives you the chance to meet with your cohort and study! It's good to get in the habit of studying and working together - math doesn't have to be lonely in graduate school! We encourage you to attend the Prelim Workshop, which will be run by current graduate students. A practice prelim exam will be held the week before the exam. Topics will alternate between algebra and analysis. You can find the complete schedule on the workshop website (updates forthcoming).  

You can find more information on the  prelim as well as resources to help you prepare and pass exams here . 

Math Graduate Student Orientation (For all incoming Math, Applied Math, and Logic students)

The Mathematics Graduate Student Orientation is scheduled for  Wednesday, August 21st, 2024.  It will be an all day event, which will include a continental breakfast and lunch(RSVP form will be sent via email). More information including a full agenda will be sent closer to the date. You can see a  general agenda here . New students aren't required to attend, but it's highly recommended that students make every effort to be present. Curious about what to expect for your time here? Check out the  MGSA Wiki . 

Fall Enrollment 

Fall enrollment for new graduate students opens on Friday,   July 19th, 9:15am - 4:45 pm.  Registering on-time, and before August 1st, ensures that you will have timely access to health insurance coverage and access to campus resources. 

Course enrollment at Berkeley occurs in two phases (1 & 2) and is assigned based on one's standing (Grad, UG Freshman, Sophomore, etc.). For fall, new graduate students are able to sign up for classes in one phase in late July. All math graduate students must be enrolled full-time with a minimum 12-unit course load each semester. Students needing accommodations such as a reduced course load must be registered with the  Disabled Students' Program.  

In addition to being required to enroll in 12 units each semester, as a program requirement, all first years must enroll in at least four courses total across the fall and spring terms. At least two of these must be graduate courses in Mathematics. MPS 375 and 303 do not count towards the satisfaction of this requirement. MPS 375 is a pedagogy course that all first-time GSIs are required to take. For reference of the course offerings to expect, you can view our course offerings on the  Schedule of Classes  [use the lefthand bar to filter by term and course level (e.g. grad or undergrad)] or on our website  here . To view courses offered in other departments visit the  Berkeley Guide . I recommend using the top ribbon to search by subject rather than by keyword. 

Before finalizing your course schedule, please discuss your plans with your assigned first-year faculty adviser. You will be assigned a faculty adviser in early summer. If you have any general questions about enrollment and your options please feel free to contact us. 

Employment as a GSI or GSR 

The two primary forms of employment for graduate students in the Math Department are Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) appointments. GSRs are appointed directly by the supervising faculty member. The majority of first-year students work as GSIs for the department.

In late spring/early summer an application will be sent out to all students who will be working as GSIs this fall so that we can collect your teaching preferences. We will do our best to match you to your preferences, but please keep in mind that you may not be assigned your first choice. The majority of first-year students are assigned to our larger, lower-division courses as assignments are made based on seniority and prior GSI experience. When submitting your preferences please make sure that your own course schedule does not conflict with the course you may be assigned to as a GSI. Some instructors require attendance at lecture and you will always need to be available to proctor in-class midterms and final exams. The instructor teaching the course is your supervisor so please make sure to have your travel plans for winter and summer break approved by them in advance of making any travel arrangements. You may be needed several days after the final exam is given to complete final grading and administrative duties so it's important that you work with your supervising faculty member to identify when it will be okay for you to depart from campus for breaks.

Fall GSI appointments officially start on August 1st and end on December 31st. Thus, students are paid for the entire month of August and December even though GSI work typically doesn't begin until the start of the semester and usually ends before December 31st.  In order for students to be paid the correct amount it is important that they complete HR onboarding (official employment verification) with Berkeley Regional Services / ERSO by the stated deadlines. Students who do not complete onboarding by the stated deadline may not be paid their GSI salary until October 1st.  More information on onboarding sessions will be sent later this summer. 

Requirements for first-time GSIs: 

  • Attend the daylong  Teaching Conference  sponsored by the  GSI Teaching & Resource Center . This conference is held each semester on the Friday before classes begin. Pre-registration is required. All first-time international GSIs must also complete the  Teaching Conference for International GSIs , which takes place in the fall semester the Thursday before classes begin. Pre-registration is also required for Thursday's offering.
  • Successfully complete the  online course GSI Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching   before  interacting with students (in person or online) as an instructor.
  • Enroll in and complete the  300-level pedagogy course for first-time GSIs , MPS 375. All GSIs teaching for the first time on campus must take a 300-level pedagogy course, regardless of prior teaching experience or previous courses taken at other universities. If you have a course conflict with MPS 375, students may take a pedagogy course offered by another department as long as you have approval from the Vice Chair for Graduate Studies, Sug Woo Shin, and the alternate department. 
  • All first-time GSIs must attend an hour-long  Academic Student Employee (ASE) orientation session . Advanced registration is NOT required.

Language Proficiency Requirements for International Students 

International students must satisfy an English language proficiency requirement in order to serve as a GSI. If English is your first language, if you attended a US institution for your undergraduate degree, or if you scored at least 26 on the speaking portion of the TOEFL IBT, then you are eligible to teach. However, you must still report your status through the  Language Proficiency Questionnaire . The deadline to complete the questionnaire for incoming students is June 1, 2024. 

All other students must pass an English language proficiency exam, and in some cases take a class before being eligible to teach. We will write further about the steps needed to satisfy this language requirement in advance, but please be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure that this requirement is satisfied, and that your offer of a GSI appointment is contingent upon satisfying this requirement.

Resources for GSIs:

GSI Teaching and Resource Center 

GSI, GSR, Reader and Tutor Guide

If you have any questions regarding GSI or GSR matters please don't hesitate to contact us. 

Campus Resources 

Logic Resources

Graduate Division Campus Resources Page  - Comprehensive website of all resources on campus

New Graduate Student Guide  - Graduate Division's most recent guide for new students

Guide to Graduate Policy  - Graduate Division Policies on Graduate Studies at Berkeley

Berkeley International Office (BIO)

Berkeley Parking & Transportation

CalDining - 2022-23 Meal Plan for Graduate Students  (on-campus dining commons)

Cal 1 Card  - Student ID Card 

Cal Rec Sports  - RSF, Campus Gym 

UC Berkeley Basic Needs Security

Food Security • CalFresh • Food Assistance Program • UCB Food Pantry

Campus Life  

Campus Safety

Gender Equity Resource Center (GenEq)

Graduate Assembly

Undocumented Student Program 

Math Stats Library

University Health Services (UHS) 

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UHS

Graduate Program Contacts 

Graduate Advisor  Clay Calder |  [email protected]  or 510-642-0665

Graduate Advisor  Christian Natividad|  [email protected]  or 415-501-0125 

Director of Student Services  Vicky Lee |  [email protected]  or 510-644-4603

'Applicable Algebra reshaped my understanding of math'

Zhenghui Zhang: Mathematics

A&S Communications

Zhenghui Zhang

Mathematics  China

What was your favorite class and why?

There are many classes I have taken that are truly inspirational, and it is tough to say which one is my favorite. However, I do think MATH 3360 Applicable Algebra, taught by Prof. Marcelo Aguiar, greatly impacted my thinking about mathematics. It is the first proof-based mathematics class I took at Cornell, and Prof. Aguiar demonstrated how to derive rich, intricate mathematical theorems in algebra from clear, simple definitions. In the class, deduction was the nutrition that fertilized the growth of mathematical ideas, and I often found myself shocked to realize how far we have gone, given how little we started with. Moreover, the class has the perpetual power to reassure and energize me whenever I get stuck in research math: I will think back about how we do proofs in MATH 3360, calm myself down, restart thinking, and end up proving something! By reshaping my understanding of math, the class's influence is truly everlasting.

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

While during semesters I devote myself primarily to math, during breaks I tend to push myself out of my bubble by traveling to different countries. In the past, I have been to Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, etc., and it is a fantastic experience to witness different cultures/lifestyles and see gorgeous scenery! I really like traveling to Latin American countries, especially given that my comparative literature minor has helped me understand some of their special historical backgrounds through novels/scholarly texts. Specifically, one novel that I find extremely motivating is "One Hundred Years of Solitude." This is a reading from my comparative literature class, and I can really relate to the plot. By reading Latin American literature and experiencing life there, I can understand social issues inherent in these countries after colonization and have intellectual discussions with my friends by putting myself in a global perspective. I believe traveling/reading can help me see the broader, more complex parts of life that are undetectable/incomprehensible by rationality but are worth understanding through sympathy and love.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

Since junior year, I have been working on connecting the (co)homology of specific linear quotient spaces with their associated matroids under the supervision of Prof. Ed Swartz. Unlike short-term REU projects, this long-term project shows me the side of research that values resilience and patience. Working on this research is like gradually clearing the mud and finding the scattered gems bit by bit. So far, we have obtained excellent partial results like long exact sequences based on matroid deletion, contraction and computations of rational homologies through characteristic polynomials of dual matroids. Recently, our primary focus has been on computing the cohomology ring structures of certain linear quotients of spheres using equivariant cohomology and Smith's theory. We have a concrete conjecture for the ring structure, which has proven true for certain examples. I hope to continue working on this research project over the summer and potentially prove some nice theorems! This year, I began working on my senior thesis, which focuses on the ends of spaces and boundaries of groups under the supervision of Prof. Jason Manning. Shape theory, a variant of homotopy theory, can be used to study local ‘bad’ spaces that arise as the boundaries of groups, like the Sierpinski carpet or the Menger cube. I am currently writing my senior thesis, which will show some applications of shape theory in geometric group theory and low-dimensional topology!

What are your plans for next year? 

I will attend graduate school and start doing research in topology, an area of mathematics that studies spaces and their shapes. Specifically, I want to understand low-dimensional topology; i.e., 3-dimensional or 4-dimensional spaces. While spaces in dimensions 1, 2, >=5 are somehow well understood by mathematicians, 3 or 4-dimensional spaces, those closest to the space we live in (because the physical world we live in is 3-dimensional and the spacetime is 4-dimensional), are the hardest to comprehend. One of the most famous unsolved conjectures in this area is the 4-dimensional smooth Poincare conjecture, which boils down to understanding whether the 4-dimensional sphere admits an additional differentiable structure. Low-dimensional topology is a very active area of research. I want to contribute to this area in the future, using methods like gauge theory, floer homology and hyperbolic/symplectic techniques.

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series.  Read more about the Class of 202 4.

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RIT graduate pursues Ph.D. across time zones

Nastaran Nagshineh is shown with other faculty in a small room where she defended her thesis.

Nastaran Nagshineh, center, defended her Ph.D. thesis at RIT in April. Faculty from RIT’s Rochester and Dubai campuses served on her thesis committee and include, from left to right, Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard, Steven Weinstein, Nathaniel Barlow, and David Kofke (a professor at the University at Buffalo). Mohamed Samaha participated remotely and appears on the video screen behind the group and alongside Nagshineh’s picture.

Nastaran Nagshineh is one of the first Ph.D. candidates to bridge RIT’s Rochester and Dubai campuses. Her accomplishment creates a path for future students at the university’s international campuses.

Nagshineh completed her Ph.D. in mathematical modeling while working full time as a mathematics lecturer at RIT Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, teaching as many as five classes a semester. She described her Ph.D. journey as “an exercise in perseverance” due to competing demands and long days. Rochester is eight hours behind Dubai, and the time difference meant many late-night classes and meetings.

“I saw this collaboration as an opportunity, rather than as a challenge, because my primary adviser, Dr. Steven Weinstein (RIT professor of chemical engineering), and my co-adviser, Dr. Mohamed Samaha (RIT Dubai associate professor of mechanical engineering), both have the same area of research interest,” she said. “They both worked toward my success.”

Nagshineh is one of 67 RIT Ph.D. students who defended their thesis this academic year and who will earn their doctorate. RIT awarded 63 Ph.D. degrees in 2023.

In 2020-2021, RIT’s Graduate School met and surpassed the university’s goal of conferring 50 Ph.D. degrees during an academic year. That number will continue to grow as students cycle through the seven new Ph.D. programs that RIT has added since 2017, said Diane Slusarski , dean of RIT’s Graduate School.

Meeting these goals puts RIT on a path toward achieving an “R1,” or research-intensive designation, from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. RIT is currently ranked as an R2 institution . Many factors go into changing a university’s status, including research investment and maintaining a three-year average of 70 Ph.D. degrees awarded per year, according to Slusarski.

“We have met the goals of the strategic plan, and now we look forward to contributing to the research innovation in the future,” Slusarski said. “We want to help the new programs thrive and win national research awards.”

RIT’s emphasis on high-level research is seen in Nagshineh’s Ph.D. work. She applies mathematical modeling to the field of fluid dynamics. Her research has been published in top-tier journals and has gained notice, said Weinstein, her thesis adviser.

Weinstein describes Nagshineh’s accomplishments as “a testament to a fantastic work ethic and commitment” and is inspirational to younger students at Rochester and Dubai.

“The collaboration between RIT Dubai/Rochester has continued,” he said. “Another paper was submitted a few weeks ago with Mohamed Samaha and Nate Barlow (RIT associate professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics) as co-authors, as well as Cade Reinberger, a younger Ph.D. student in my research group.”

Mathematical modeling is one of RIT’s newer Ph.D. degree programs, and Nagshineh is among its earliest graduates. The program has doubled in size since it began accepting students in 2017, Slusarski said. This past fall, the mathematical modeling program had 35 students, with two graduating this year.

Altogether, RIT has 13 Ph.D. degree programs currently enrolling 438 students, with computing and information sciences accounting for the largest with 117 students. RIT’s other Ph.D. programs include astrophysical sciences and technology , biomedical and chemical engineering , business administration , color science , electrical and computer engineering, imaging science , mechanical and industrial engineering , microsystems engineering , and sustainability .

New programs in cognitive science and physics will launch in the fall.

The growth in RIT graduate education—with more than 3,000 master’s and doctoral students—reflects a demographic change in the student population, Slusarski said. “We have a higher percentage of women in the graduate programs than we have for RIT undergraduate programs.”

RIT’s graduate programs enroll 42 percent women, according to Christie Leone , assistant dean for the Graduate School.

Nagshineh, who also holds an MS in electrical engineering from RIT Dubai, welcomes her role as a mentor to other women students on both campuses.

“As a young woman in an Arabic country, the power of women is often underestimated and undervalued, and I hope to serve as a role model to female students, especially those that question their path,” Nagshineh said.

She plans to continue in her career as a professor and a researcher. “I would like to pursue a research program where I can advise my own students and teach them more deeply.”

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  1. PhD in Mathematics

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  2. 10 amazing benefits of getting a PhD later in life

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  4. a woman smiling with the title 10 amazing benefits of getting a phd

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  5. Ph.D. In Mathematics: Course, Eligibility Criteria, Admission, Syllabus

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  6. How to Do a PhD Later in Life: A Primer on What to Expect

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  1. An evening in the life of a typical math PhD student

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  4. 🌼math PhD Student 🌻Days in the life🌞 research & self care!

  5. The Math Major

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  1. Is it possible to start a PhD in mathematics at the age of 29?

    $\begingroup$ Starting later in life, after having some life experiences can be a huge advantage. I witnessed many Israeli students doing their Ph.D thesis at Cornell, after completing their IDF time. They cut through their Ph.D work like a hot knife through butter.

  2. Thoughts on a later life PhD in mathematics : r/mathematics

    Sorry for the late reply, I had a PhD thesis to send. Okay so let's say it very quickly: it is a risky put potentially rewarding idea. Facts: 1) Nowadays many professors likes to have young pupils that they can shape at will and push in specific directions. 2) In mathematics it is commonly believed that most of your best years are before 40 ...

  3. How challenging experiences led me to pursue a PhD in Mathematics by

    The following fall, I went off to graduate school, pursuing a mathematics PhD program at the same institution I had done the REU. Six years later, I completed the program and earned a PhD in mathematics. Now, as I write about this experience almost ten years later, for the first time I ask myself, "How can eight weeks change the whole course ...

  4. PDF How to Get a Ph.d. in Mathematics in A Timely Fashion

    Mathematics research is fun, engaging, di cult, frustrating, and di erent than most 9-5 jobs. This article is meant to provide some tips on making the major transition from mathematics student to independent researcher. Imagine you are a graduate student in a math Ph.D. program and you have just nished your qualifying exams.

  5. How to Do a PhD Later in Life: A Primer on What to Expect

    Even if you disagree with your supervisors or advisors, do your best to always remain respectful in those disagreements. Remember: 90 percent of your happiness during a PhD will be based on your relationships with your committee, so do your best to be a great student. You will feel really uncomfortable.

  6. Moving from academia to industry

    I started my math studies at the University of Helsinki in 2006, and roughly ten years later I got my PhD in mathematics from the very same institution. Despite studying a small amount of computer science, university pedagogy and physics, by my estimate I finished as a '95% pure mathematician'.

  7. should you pursue a PhD later in life?

    Wrapping up - doing a PhD later in life. In this article, we explore the unique challenges and rewards of pursuing a PhD later in life, drawing from the experiences of older PhD candidates. Two case studies showcase the importance of determination, support systems, and practical experiences in successfully completing a doctoral program. ...

  8. Taking On the Ph.D. Later in Life

    Later in Life. Rob Hevey, a Ph.D. student in a plant biology and conservation program, expects to finish his doctorate around five years from now, when he will be 66. Whitten Sabbatini for The New ...

  9. Ask /r/math: Getting the PhD later in life : r/math

    Ask /r/math: Getting the PhD later in life . Hi all, I presume some/many of you have PhDs in mathematics (or related field). I recently got an MS in a related field (statistics) and had batted around the idea of whether I wanted to get the PhD. Eventually, I was able to find a nice job and it's very comfy and everyone is nice. But I knew, in my ...

  10. A PhD Student's Perspective on landing an industry position

    Yuxin Wang (UM Math PhD 2021) wrote to share her perspective and process on finding a rewarding career after graduation. Yuxin's advisor was Sijue Wu. Yuxin's words: My PhD Student Perspective: landing an industry position. The purpose of this narrative is to provide a data point about career choices outside of academia.

  11. Ph.D. Program Overview

    Description. The graduate program in the field of mathematics at Cornell leads to the Ph.D. degree, which takes most students five to six years of graduate study to complete. One feature that makes the program at Cornell particularly attractive is the broad range of interests of the faculty. The department has outstanding groups in the areas of ...

  12. Life After a PhD: What Can You Do?

    In fact, the opposite is true - in completing your PhD, you'll have built a set of skills and knowledge that are highly sought after by many employers. Your CV will show that you're self-motivated, able to work well both within a team and individually, keep to deadlines and can present complex ideas. Highly educated, skilled people are in ...

  13. Getting a PhD in Your 50s and 60s: The Ultimate Guide

    Educators see increasing enrollment in doctoral programs by students in their 40s and 50s. At Cornell University, women drive the trend. "The number of new female doctoral students age 36 or older was 44% higher in 2015 than in 2009," says Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the graduate school.

  14. Math Ph.D. does not know what to do with life? [closed]

    Hone your skills before spending your time and money going in, otherwise it's a waste of the latter and a stressful use of the former. Third, as people have said, definitely finish your phd. Fourth, in my opinion, there are 2 goals you can aim for. First, a generic software engineering ("swe") position.

  15. Going back to graduate school later in life : r/math

    I was wondering if anyone has experience with going/going back to graduate school later in life. I'm just shy of 30 and have been thinking a lot lately about going back to graduate school in math. I was in a PhD program at <big state school> studying harmonic analysis/additive combinatorics 5 years or so ago, but ended up leaving, mainly due to ...

  16. Graduate Study Later in Life

    Being a student, even at grad school, is often considered to be preserve of the young. But this isn't the whole picture; increasingly, people are returning to study master's and PhD programs later in life, with the average age of prospective students on the rise. At the age of 100, Bholaram Das hit international headlines when he became the world's oldest PhD student.

  17. What Next After PhD? Decoding Your Life After a PhD

    It is inevitable that your PhD will leave you with an array of skills that are transferable across different sectors. These could be technical skills that are domain-specific and, more importantly, broad skills such as project management, data analysis, and effective communication. Often, it takes a while after a PhD for students to acknowledge ...

  18. New Graduate Students

    Important Dates: Prelim Workshop - TBD (2024 schedule will be posted late June/early July). Enrollment Opens for New Graduate Students - Friday, July 19, 2024. Mathematics Graduate Student Orientation - Wednesday, August 21, 2024, 1015 Evans - Full-day program. Teaching Conference for first-time international GSIs.

  19. Doing a PhD later in life? : r/PhD

    I'm 38 and a few months into my 3-year PhD. It's, obviously, good to consider the pros and cons, but if you are passionate about the research, found a good supervisor and a PhD will help you with you future career, it might be a step worth taking. I'm doing it in my later life and loving it.

  20. 'Applicable Algebra reshaped my understanding of math'

    However, I do think MATH 3360 Applicable Algebra, taught by Prof. Marcelo Aguiar, greatly impacted my thinking about mathematics. It is the first proof-based mathematics class I took at Cornell, and Prof. Aguiar demonstrated how to derive rich, intricate mathematical theorems in algebra from clear, simple definitions.

  21. Is it possible to become good at math after a "late" age and ...

    Yeah, you won't become Gauss and you probably won't win the IMO, but that's not going to stop you from doing math later on in life if that's what you want to do. I have a friend with a math PhD who didn't do so well until high school; he didn't win a lot of math competitions (but he went and did OK), and he went to a fairly average state school ...

  22. RIT graduate pursues Ph.D. across time zones

    RIT awarded 63 Ph.D. degrees in 2023. In 2020-2021, RIT's Graduate School met and surpassed the university's goal of conferring 50 Ph.D. degrees during an academic year. That number will continue to grow as students cycle through the seven new Ph.D. programs that RIT has added since 2017, said Diane Slusarski, dean of RIT's Graduate School.

  23. r/RedditForGrownups on Reddit: Getting a PhD later in life

    Both take 5-10 years from a 'real job' making income. MD is 4 years plus residency +/- fellowship (optional) and PhDs are 4~6 plus 2-4 year post-docs. Couple that with taxes, you are taxed much more for having compressed earnings, this is probably a money loser unless you keep working for many decades. 2.

  24. How did you get into math later in life? : r/math

    I didn't start getting into math until I was in my 30s, started with algebra and calculus through self study and khan academy. After that I would watch lectures on whatever subject I was interested in and am in university finishing my graduate degree. If you love the subject you'll find any way to do it. Reply.