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Programs When should I do my PhD.?

  1. Dec 15, 2008 #1


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    Hello everyone. I am currently enrolled in a masters course in theoretical physics, this is great and I am very interested in the subject, so I have no doubts in my mind that I do want to do a PhD. in that area. I am studying in the UK and have been considering applying for positions and such. Yes, I have left it rather late I suppose. I intended to take next year off and spend it pursuing other interests, i.e. motly for personal reasons. I thought this would be cool because I am 23 at the moment, figured I'd then be starting my PhD. at 25 and completing it at, well, at worst 28 or 29. I always intended to apply this year as well to some courses, and so it's also still possible I may complete it by 27.

    anyways, shuffling my feet as i am i only recently realised that i would be far more interested in doing a phd in the US. particularly cal-tech, but you know, probably cant afford to be too picky. (main reason being that you are forced to perform a rather comprehensive review of your more basic physics knowledge, and that you get direct feedback in whether or not it is up to scratch) of course it's far too late to take the required gre's now, so i'm basically stuck waiting until next year. that would mean that by the time i'd start the program (if i was even admitted) i would be 25, and probably 30 by the end of it if their site is accurate. i guess in some sense the difference between 29 and 30 is splitting hairs, but at the same time i am under the impression that youth is in some ways beneficial in physics research, partciuarly if i could fnish by 27, and yeah, i am interested in pursuing a career in academia so i thnk it would be beneficial, but i'm also far more interested in doing my phd in a us university.

    so! quite long-winded, im sorry! but the short versuon: is 30 too old to complete a phd? and if i have the option of completing at 27/28, which is preferable?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2008 #2


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    If you could provide a concrete reason for why you are under this impression, I would love to hear it.

    Unfortunately I think a lot of people subscribe to this idea that one needs to complete a PhD before the age of 30, otherwise the world will end or something.

    Arguably, it's more desirable to finish early because (depending on your field) you have to spend several years as a post-doc afterwards where you won't have a lot of job stability and your income won't be great and that's when a lot of people start thinking about starting a family.

    The other reason I could think of is that you may be seen as less competative for said post-doc positions if you took longer than average to finish your PhD (ie. seven years instead of four). I don't believe this is necessarily true - although there might be a correlation (as opposed to a causal relation). For example, a lazy person could take longer to finish and then have a tough time getting a job, not because of the time it took to get his or her PhD, but simply because he or she is lazy and doesn't have good references. In contrast the guy who took the same amount of time to finish, but also worked a part-time job, and did large amounts of volunteer work, and had a family at home would be more competative.
  4. Dec 16, 2008 #3

    Dr Transport

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    I went back for a second masters and a PhD when I was 27. Due to circumstances I didn't finish my PhD until I was almost 35..... (I worked 2-3 years as a consultant while finishing my degree). I have seen no impediment to anything I have wanted to do since graduating. I will say that I didn't want an academic career but an industrial position and that is exactly where I am currently and am doing fairly well.
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