• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products via PF Here!

Other PhD - Average Age

Hey guys,

does anyone have more or less current statistics for the average PhD graduation age in maths or physics?

I wonder wether graduation at age 32 is still unproblematic, for jobs out of academia. Suppose I lost a few years for internships or stays abroad.
 

Choppy

Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
4,496
1,581
This is one of those questions where one might wonder what you're planning to do with the information. Suppose I told you the average age of a PhD graduate was 30 years old (I don't know that it is necessarily). It's not like you can go back in time and change your circumstances to graduate earlier.

That said, the average PhD duration in the US is 6.3 years. It also looks like 20% take 8 or more years. So if you figure that most people start university at about 18 years old, the average person would be about 28 at graduation. But that doesn't necessarily factor in: travel, time off to work, military or civil service, internships or co-op positions, an extra year to figure out what you should major in, illness or injury, etc. In my experience (though I am Canadian) it is fairly common for people to take more than 4 years before they start the PhD. So, realistically, the average age of a PhD graduate is probably closer to 30.

And I don't think anyone is going to care a heck of a lot about the difference between a 30 year old and a 32 year old when making a hiring decision.
 
This is one of those questions where one might wonder what you're planning to do with the information. Suppose I told you the average age of a PhD graduate was 30 years old (I don't know that it is necessarily). It's not like you can go back in time and change your circumstances to graduate earlier.

That said, the average PhD duration in the US is 6.3 years. It also looks like 20% take 8 or more years. So if you figure that most people start university at about 18 years old, the average person would be about 28 at graduation. But that doesn't necessarily factor in: travel, time off to work, military or civil service, internships or co-op positions, an extra year to figure out what you should major in, illness or injury, etc. In my experience (though I am Canadian) it is fairly common for people to take more than 4 years before they start the PhD. So, realistically, the average age of a PhD graduate is probably closer to 30.

And I don't think anyone is going to care a heck of a lot about the difference between a 30 year old and a 32 year old when making a hiring decision.
Thanks for the answer. I don't need to go back in time as I haven't even started the PhD yet ^^
So it's more about planning my future.

The thing is, I am from Germany and about to complete my M.Sc. I already lost two years, one in school (*cough cough*), one due to internship and research stay abroad. Other than that, I did not lose time anywhere.
I want to do my PhD in another country, my favourite is the UK. The problem is many of the PhD programmes at top schools start at October since they have coursework in their first year and I can't garantuee that I will be done with my thesis until then, on top of that, the decision to leave Germany for the PhD is relatively new and most of the application deadlines are over, so for these courses I would need to wait until October 2019.
I also would like to leave pure physics and go to applied maths for the PhD. However, for this route I might have to take a 1 year M.Sc. or M.Phil. course to get me up to date with the maths content for the PhD. If I take this route, I can start in October 2019, so I have a whole year between my Masters and the start of the advanced studies. During this time I could work at my home university or do an internship in the field I am interested in (consulting, banking). Then lose 1 year for the M.Sc. and than another 3-4 years for the actual PhD.
Then I would be 32 at graduation.

And yeah, I thought that might be too old, so I should better search for a PhD position in physics that allows me to start early 2019. Then I would be 29/30 when I graduate, even though it would not be the most satisfying route for me with respect to the content.
 
33,242
8,960
I have seen people getting their PhD with 32 and finding a job easily, and people getting it with 27 and struggling to find a job afterwards.
Don't worry about one or two years, especially if you make something productive in that time.

With a MSc in Germany you might be able to shorten the UK PhD program a bit - they are designed for UK graduates which have less coursework.
 
516
63
Thanks for the answer. I don't need to go back in time as I haven't even started the PhD yet ^^
So it's more about planning my future.

The thing is, I am from Germany and about to complete my M.Sc. I already lost two years, one in school (*cough cough*), one due to internship and research stay abroad. Other than that, I did not lose time anywhere.
I want to do my PhD in another country, my favourite is the UK. The problem is many of the PhD programmes at top schools start at October since they have coursework in their first year and I can't garantuee that I will be done with my thesis until then, on top of that, the decision to leave Germany for the PhD is relatively new and most of the application deadlines are over, so for these courses I would need to wait until October 2019.
I also would like to leave pure physics and go to applied maths for the PhD. However, for this route I might have to take a 1 year M.Sc. or M.Phil. course to get me up to date with the maths content for the PhD. If I take this route, I can start in October 2019, so I have a whole year between my Masters and the start of the advanced studies. During this time I could work at my home university or do an internship in the field I am interested in (consulting, banking). Then lose 1 year for the M.Sc. and than another 3-4 years for the actual PhD.
Then I would be 32 at graduation.

And yeah, I thought that might be too old, so I should better search for a PhD position in physics that allows me to start early 2019. Then I would be 29/30 when I graduate, even though it would not be the most satisfying route for me with respect to the content.
One of the Post-Docs at my University in the UK got his PhD in Physics in 2016 and he is in his late 30s after previously working as a computer programmer before doing his undergraduate degree. Another PhD student within the same research cluster, was a GP before going on to do an (unrelated) PhD in Physics. Whilst, not necessarily the 'standard' age, it's certainly not unheard of for PhD students to be in their 30s by the time they graduate.
The best thing to do is probably to have a look if there's any projects available currently that interest you and get in contact with the supervisor. Start dates are usually somewhat flexible as well, especially as places can often come up at the last minute, if someone drops out, or accepts a place at a different institute.
 

Want to reply to this thread?

"PhD - Average Age" You must log in or register to reply here.

Related Threads for: PhD - Average Age

  • Posted
Replies
10
Views
3K
  • Posted
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Posted
Replies
9
Views
1K
Replies
7
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
18
Views
1K

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top