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I’m considering applying for a master’s program in Germany, but I’m wondering how the feel about older students? I am nearly fifty and I know some grad programs in the US aren’t interested in students that won’t have a longer career ahead of them after grad school.

  • Do you want a salary or do you have enough money (or other means) to support your life during the time you do your PhD? (Please edit your question to clarify.) – Wrzlprmft Dec 27 '17 at 9:12
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    A master's is not considered a graduate program in Germany (at least not in the same way as in the US) -- it's the terminal university degree that qualifies for entry into a PhD program. Getting into a master's program is not difficult at all, as long as you have the equivalent of a (sufficiently successful) German bachelor's degree. Getting into a PhD program after that is a completely different matter, though. Maybe you can expand your question to explain a bit more about your situation and what you're hoping to get out of this? – Christian Clason Dec 27 '17 at 9:36
  • Unsure of German age discrimination laws, but given the student/employee role of graduate students, would labor laws apply? – Frank FYC Dec 27 '17 at 11:04
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    @FrankFYC Not for a masters degree, asa Masters degree in Germany is purely an educational context. In general protection against age discrimination is very weak in Germany. In part age discrimination is institutionalized, by the fact that you'll have a hard time becoming "verbeamted" above age 50 (unless you were already verbeamted before). – Maarten Buis Dec 27 '17 at 17:20
  • "given the student/employee role of graduate students" - to make the comment by @MaartenBuis a bit more explicit: In Germany (at least in technical disciplines that I am aware of), Master students are "exclusively" students, exactly like Bachelor students. They are not affiliated with a particular institute, they do not have an office, or anything like that. Only doctoral students are typically also employed in some way. Both Bachelor and Master students can take on part-time positions as teaching/research assistants, but that's something that happens only after you have become such a student. – O. R. Mapper Dec 27 '17 at 22:22
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I'm from Germany and have a Bachelor and Master Degree from a German university. Over the years I have seen a number of students who were in their 40's and 50's who applied for a Bachelor's or Master's program. Age shouldn't be a concern when you consider applying because you can't be discriminated because of your age. For some Master's programs being older can actually be benefical!

With some programs there is the possibility to outline special circumstances in the application why you should be given the opportunity to enroll. You could describe your reasons there and might get a few extra points which could help your application. Previous working experience and training might get you some extra points too. Make sure you read the admission regulations (Zulassungsordnung) for the program.

Good luck!

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