Hi! I want to (eventually) do PhD in theoretical physics, and although universities like MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, etc. are incredibly competitive, I was wondering if being self-funded student makes things any easier? My current situation is following: I am nearly 29 years-old student in final year of a degree similar to physics. I am considered “high-achiever” by my university, I have won a number of awards, industry internships, I have teaching experience (tutoring physics at high-school level) and nearly everyone in the department knows my name. Once I graduate, there is a strong chance that I will score a high-paying job in industry. After I have slaved away worked several years, paid off student debt and ensured my family is financially well, I plan to do a PhD in theoretical physics. Now, my question is, if I don’t have a scholarship but, say, happen to have $200 000 in my pocket, what are the odds of getting accepted into those top schools? Couple of things I should also mention: 1. While I’m working full-time, I plan to slowly (one course per semester) cover certain subjects I am missing that are expected of physics graduates, through accredited postgraduate qualification at local university. That should take 2-3 years, and will help “bridging” into physics graduate school I end up applying for. 2. I don’t live in US. 3. I don’t know much about how PhD funding works, so please excuse my ignorance. Also, I apologise if I appear to be bragging, that was not my intention. Thanks in advance!