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Physics To old to do physics?

  1. Mar 17, 2009 #1
    Hi everyone

    Will i be to OLD ,if i obtain a Phd in Theoretical physics at the age of 29?
    I will be 24 when i get started with the phd program ,and its no way going to take less then
    5 years as i am an electronics/telecom engineering graduate and have to obtain an Msc along the way.
    Should i go ahead with the phd program?
    Is there any age limit for post docs in the states?
    please give your frank opinion.

    Thank you
    Old Man
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2009 #2


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    I don't see any problem at all with that. I don't even think 29 is a particularly 'old' age to get a PhD.
  4. Mar 17, 2009 #3
    sure,i know many who have completed phd at that age,maybe in other areas like astronomy etc..
    I have not heard anyone complete a phd in theoretical suff(strings,LQG etc..) at an age older then 26-27
  5. Mar 17, 2009 #4


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    29 way is too old. It is too close to the magical barrier of 30 where your brain turns off, you develop an aversion to anything new and you start wearing your belt up around your belly button. Any self-respecting physicist should complete a PhD before the age of 25. Ideally by age 18.

    Seriously, the only time age becomes a factor that I've seen is in how a candidate's career coals relate to a potential position. For example, someone looking for a final few years of work before retirement might be seen differently than someone looking to use the position as a springboard to advance his or her career.
  6. Mar 17, 2009 #5
    Seriously, you think starting a Ph.d. at 24 is old? Who gave you that idea? It's not quite the same as starting Kindergarten late!! even if most people do start there Ph.d. right after undergrad then most them are going to be 22, whats the big deal?

    Even if age would possible be a factor in some situation, it's not for you man, 2 years makes no difference. Do you think they are going to see you are 30 instead of 28 and make a decision based on that?
  7. Mar 17, 2009 #6
    It is not a problem unless you have a family or plan to start one before the age of 30, and then you may feel that you are taking to long to start your career. Otherwise it will be fine and normal.
  8. Mar 17, 2009 #7
    Too old being 29?
    Where I live, people start their career at 18, then they spend 5 years studying it, so they start their Ph.D. when they are 22. If you spend 6 years doing a Ph.D. then you will finish when you are 28!
    So, to sum up, I think 29 is a normal age!
  9. Mar 17, 2009 #8

    Dr Transport

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    I was 34......age did not hamper me in any way......
  10. Mar 17, 2009 #9


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    Too old? Let's see... several years ago, I embarked on a project examining the interactions of apparently-interacting galaxies of M-51 type. I was in my 50's with no college degree. Two other researchers piled on, and last year, our paper was published by Springer's journal "Astrophysics and Space Sciences" and we are working on a series of follow-ups. This year, we have welcomed a former engineer with strengths in statistical analysis to our group. He is in his 70's. Too old???? What's that?
  11. Mar 17, 2009 #10
    I'll be 27 when I start a Ph.D. next fall, so I am worse off than you. =)

    On a serious note, I question if you really know what your getting yourself into, both during grad school and after. Do your research if you haven't already. Good luck to you.
  12. Mar 17, 2009 #11
    Hi Guys

    Thanks for all the comments.
    It will go a long way in me coming to a correct decision.
  13. Mar 24, 2009 #12
    Ya, I would hardly say that 29 would be too old for a PhD. I should hope not at least.
    I'll be 25 this summer, and essentially starting my Undergrad Physics/Applied Math studies.
  14. Mar 24, 2009 #13
    If you look at the AIP statistics for time it takes to graduate with a Ph.D ( http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/emp/figure14.htm ), even if everyone else in your department started at age 22, about one third would still be there or graduating with you. This is using your assumption that it will only take you 5 years. I wouldn't worry too much about your age. I would worry much more about passing the qualifying exams.
  15. Mar 24, 2009 #14
    LOL. I'm 52 and just starting back to school taking some math refreshers prior to starting a physics degree program in the fall. Was a science major (biology and chemistry) many years ago, but jobs moved me in other directions. Lately, I got the bug again from having to interpret technical reports on my job. While I may never get a PhD (shoot, at only taking one or two courses a semester, I'd be like 134 by then!), the fun of understanding is terrific. I understand its different for you facing career choices and all, but like a book I once read said: Do what you enjoy and the money will follow.
  16. Mar 25, 2009 #15
    Really, not 'too old' at all. It doesn't apply specifically to your case, but one thing that's always stuck with me as a good piece of advice was a comment DaveC from this forum made when someone asked about starting another degree when they were 30 (I won't be finished until I'm 35!! too old!), the point he made was that whether you do the degree or not, you're still going to end up 35 so just need to factor in the thought that you're either still doing what you're doing or your career is wildly changed by the possible PhD, which is it you want?

    Plus, 29 isn't old to finish a PhD, don't be absurd.
  17. Mar 25, 2009 #16
    the real question is if 29 is too young for a PhD?
  18. Apr 2, 2009 #17
    AFAIK, young adults are people between 18 & 35 years. So 24 years means young.

    Dont' worry about beginning PhD studies at that age. Race against clock is worthless except -maybe- if you're talking about elementary or high school level. You can even start a family in your 30's and earning your degree. That would be normal.
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