I have completed my master's degree year ago and took a gap of 2-3 years before committing to the Ph.D. Right now my financial condition is worse and I don't want to make any decision in any urgency. My peers are getting enrolled for Ph.D. and I am getting worried by watching them. I am 27 right now and planning to collect enough money and build my resume strong to get into a decent Ph.D. program in Europe or Asia. Is my decision wrong? I need some advice from experienced peoples.

Thank you.

  • 2
    No. I've seen doctoral students twenty years my senior. Do it if you're ready. Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:06
  • @SeanRoberson My intention is to get enough experience and knowledge so that I won't have hard time deciding on what field I want to work on.
    – arush1836
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:11
  • @SeanRoberson nothing wrong with this as an answer, but it's not a comment :)
    – arboviral
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 9:02
  • Absolutely not.
    – xuq01
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 15:22

3 Answers 3


You are never too old, in years, to start a Doctoral program or to otherwise extend your education. However, you need to do a couple of things while you "wait".

Most important is that you don't lose your edge. If you are working in the field of study you should probably be fine and your experience may help. In fact, it may give you some ideas about unsolved issues in the field that might lead to research and a dissertation. But you will also need to try to keep current through readings. You don't say which field you plan to enter, but some move faster than others. New possibilities for research open up as well.

The second thing is that you will need to be prepared to answer questions about the gap in an intelligent and positive way. Getting experience in field is a pretty good answer. Recovering from burn out is not so fine.

However, as you age, you may take on additional responsibilities that you don't now have: family, kids, mortgage, ... Seek life balance of course, but as your responsibilities change, so may your goals. You will also need to deal, increasingly, with the needs of others. But nothing is an absolute block.

Remember that you will age no matter what you do. It is better to spend your life doing something you love than otherwise, even if it takes a while to realize the dream.

  • My current job at a start-up is aligned with my intended research during PhD.
    – arush1836
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:20
  • That should help, but note the new penultimate paragraph in my answer.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:37
  • I totally agree with you. I work in AI (artificial intelligence) company and my future research would also be in AI. I love my job, though pay is less but learning is awesome.
    – arush1836
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 17:40

Definitely not!

In fact, one of the best researchers in my group started her PhD at the age of 33. She managed to publish papers in high impact journals, got a patent and last year she was hired as a post-doc.

As @Buffy said, it is indeed important for you to have an idea of your project. However, from my experience, don't hold onto it too much. Be adventurous! Good science might come from a previously established good idea, but it can also happen out of chance. You'll never know if you don't try.

And also agreeing with @Buffy, do take into consideration your personal side. Living out of PhD salary can be quite tricky if you have others financially relying on you. Another thing is: make sure that, if you have a partner, he/she will be supportive. PhD involves working late hours, sometimes following tight deadlines, dealing with frustration and so on.

Don't compare your age with others'. Everyone has a different time to do things. As long as you know what you are getting into and you are ready to commit, you will be more than fine.

Best of luck in your PhD!

  • I am not married as for now. Planning in between PhD or may be after that.
    – arush1836
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 7:46
  • @User relationships are not the problem, selfish partners are. You will be following your dream, so make sure that your significant other will not compete with your work.
    – J.Doe
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 7:50
  • Hello, I can't comment on that as I have never been in any relationship yet.
    – arush1836
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 7:52
  • @User Additionally, do try to find a good balance in your professional and personal life. Have fun in the meantime. Getting too dragged into work will only make you too stressed out. I had really bad moments during my first year of PhD because I was neglecting my social life. Find a good balance for you, and your PhD years will be nice.
    – J.Doe
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 7:58
  • Thank you for your kind advice, I'll keep that in my mind.
    – arush1836
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 7:59

I started my Phd at the age of 35 and I never feel too old to do research. I acyually found that my years experience acquired from work helps me quite a lot in my Phd study.

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