My Background :

I am Bachelors of Arts graduate, 27, I work as a Clerk currently. I have interest in Mathematics so I started studying it. I have studied "How to Prove It ". After getting basics I am doing Real Analysis and starting onto Abstract Algebra. I have covered Calculus 1,2,3 already from Adrian Banner'S Calculus Lifesaver videos.

I have been given advice that since I am 27, so it's too late to graduate in Mathematics and do P.H.d because that will can take 7-8 years which means that i will be around 35-36 years of age. I have been told that i should pursue mathematics as interest only (hobby).

I wish to know advice and opinions of experienced people before this question getting closed. If it gets closed, I have email I.d in my profile description, you can send me responses there. But I want to reach out to mathematicians before it gets closed.


  • 2
    Mathematics isn't exactly a career path. What is the profession you want? Math teacher? Actuary? Statistician? Though it likely won't affect the answer. Which is that 27 is young enough to start most anything. Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 4:13
  • So you know it is off-topic but ask anyway - providing your email is not so smart either.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 4:25
  • 1
    Not sure what the goal of this question is. If you're only asking about the age component, it's a duplicate of the linked question. If you're asking for "general advice on becoming a mathematician" -- that is far too broad to be answerable. In any case, I suggest you start by learning a bit more about higher mathematics (e.g., proofs) and applied mathematics (incldg. writing code) before you worry about planning out your whole future. Taking classes toward a B.S. in math might be a good way to do this while keeping your options open, though I recognize that may have financial implications.
    – cag51
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 4:47
  • Maybe you should revise your title in order to reflect the question you have more properly ...
    – lordy
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


There are several perspectives on this (and the linked answer does not fully cover them):

  • Most academics will give you the answer that if you are really excellent and commited in what you do you can achieve everything at any age. This is in principle true but the problem is that the "excellent" and "committed" part will not apply to most people even if they think so. Sounds harsh but this is the reality.
  • Academia is very competitive - up to hypercompetitive and unsustainable. At an older age you start with a slight disadvantage which might just be the little bit that is missing in order to be competitive:
  • It will be more difficult to do a PhD at an older age as the cohort you will be in is most likely younger and many things are just set up for students that are younger. That does not mean that it will not work but it means that it will be harder at an older age.
  • Your field is math: Many mathematicians (not all) have their most productive years before 30.
  • Also if you decide to continue after the PhD in academia you will be missing the years as people will count your publications, citations etc and many hiring panels will not even look down to the part where you explain that you started later.
  • If you have not become an independent researcher by the age of 40 this step will become even harder.
  • The pay will be very low for many years (does most likely not work with a familiy)
  • The working hours will be very long for many years (vs familiy again)
  • Personally I have seen few older PhD students but those that I have seen are usually extremely good and/or have done something related before in industry.

In summary: It is possible (at any age) but it is certainly not becoming easier (and it is not even easy if you come right out of an excellent undergrad degree).

  • 2
    When considering the number of publications we generally look at the date someone earned the phd to gauge productivity, not the age. I do agree there is going to be discrimination however, and also that it can be a "young person's game" in the sense that older people more likely have wised up to the fact that the rewards of an academic career may not be worth the price anymore. Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 19:58

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