(Note: For international students)

If someone has a gap of more than 5 years after obtaining a masters degree, are they eligible for a PhD in the USA?

  • 5
    I don't think there is any such restrictions... Nov 8 '19 at 6:59
  • 1
    The edit changed it from 3 years to 5. The answers are still valid, I think. But the "productivity" in the meantime might be considered. But in general, in the US, lots of people who "always wanted" to do a PhD end up doing so late in life. My university had a number of such students. But if you apply you will get better information and feedback on your particular situation.
    – Buffy
    Jan 31 '21 at 16:01
  • Actually i was confused that some certain age restriction may be there.. so i edit agains ...now got its thanks u sir @Buffy
    – jasmine
    Jan 31 '21 at 16:09

There is no restriction that a PhD should be done right after a Master's degree.

For instance, I knew a returning PhD student of age >50 at a major US university.

Depending on what the candidate did in the three years in between, snatching a precious place in a PhD program may be either more difficult or easier.


Edit: I didn't exactly answer the question before. The short answer is that there is no such eligibility requirement. Long, original answer below.

As with any job application, a gap is only as bad as you describe it. You can "sell" yourself effectively by describing that gap as positively as possible-- whether you were working professionally, raising a kid, traveling, helping out your family, etc. And quite often, the life experience you gain by having a break from schooling is a huge asset when you enter a grueling graduate program.

I don't have data to back it up (this is close enough), but my perception is that the average age of PhD students in the U.S. has gone up over the past few decades, because people often need to work a "real" job, save up money, and pay off loans before taking on the job of an underpaid grad student with excessive hours. So three years between a masters and PhD seems about right.

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