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Physics Age as a factor in PhD admission

  1. Jul 24, 2016 #1
    Hi, I am a 27 year old Physics Masters student and I have completed one year of my Masters degree in theoretical high-energy/cosmology from one of the top universities in Canada.

    I would like to apply for PhD admission to the top 20 universities in the US for a phd in theoretical high-energy/cosmology.

    Is my age a factor that will weigh down my application?
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 24, 2016 #2

    Choppy

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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I don't see how it could be. At 27 you're a few years older than a typical PhD applicant, but not so much that it's really all that noticeable.
     
  4. Jul 24, 2016 #3
    So, you mean that 28 is not at all a bad age for starting a PhD in a research field where postdoc positions are so scarce that most people leave the field?

    I'm also an international student from South Asia. Won't that have a bearing as well?
     
  5. Jul 24, 2016 #4

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    It shouldn't be a problem as long as your English is good.
     
  6. Jul 24, 2016 #5
    I got 328 on my GRE general test, and 8.5/9.0 on the IELTS, so English is not a problem at all.
     
  7. Jul 24, 2016 #6
    But my main worry is if 28 is a bad age for starting a PhD in a research field where postdoc positions are so scarce that most people leave the field. (Add to that, I would only like to apply to the top 20 PhD programs, which makes things even harder.)
     
  8. Jul 24, 2016 #7

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    1. You need to decide if this field of study is a good fit for you
    2. The schools need to decide if you are a good fit for them

    Your age may be relevant for 1, but is not relevant for 2. I cannot see how your ethnicity would be relevant for either 1 or 2.
     
  9. Jul 24, 2016 #8

    Choppy

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    Okay, so post-doc positions are scarce. So most people end up leaving the field. It would seem to me your major concern should be what you plan to do afterward if academia doesn't work out.

    But I still don't get why being a few years older than a typical applicant would have any bearing on an admissions committee accepting you. If your GPA, reference letters, research experience, GRE scores, external scholarships, scholarship history, application statement, communication skills, and teaching experience aren't enough to stratify you from the other candidates for the available positions I would still highly doubt that your age would be the decisive factor.

    Besides, even if it were, it's not like you could make yourself any younger anyway.
     
  10. Jul 24, 2016 #9

    DrSteve

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    Gold Member

    Age and post scarcity are not strongly coupled. Your underlying anxiety might be more related to the post doc scarcity than admission chances. What will you do if you can't get a post doc? Are you ok with that?
     
  11. Jul 24, 2016 #10
    I am okay with the fact that I might not get a post doc and will have to leave the field. I feel that I won't be unemployed with a PhD in theoretical physics from a reputed university.
     
  12. Jul 25, 2016 #11

    DrSteve

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    Gold Member

    Then go for it.
     
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