I got my Master about 4 years ago from Iran. Since then, I have been working in a research group and published 4 papers in journals with IF between 1.767 to 4.594, including a paper related to my dissertation, and still working on 2 other research projects with my former supervisor in the university in Iran, based in Tehran. I was about to apply for pursuing my Ph.D. in New Zealand in the fields of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering when the pandemic emerged. I am a bit worried that the educational gap affects my plan negatively. Plus, I am at the age of 44 with 18 years of practical experience in industries and research, and I cannot fall asleep because of my worrieness.

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    I doubt you will get an answer from someone familiar with New Zealand, but I strongly suspect New Zealand academics, as in other countries strongly influenced by the UK, will not care one bit how many years it has been since your masters. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 9:45
  • Are you interested in any university at all in New Zealand or do you have a specific university or universities in mind? If so, have you been in contact with anyone at that university / those universities?
    – J W
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:06
  • Yes. Auckland University of Technology and The University of Waikato. I made contact with them about my age and the research proposal. About my age, they said it doesn't matter but about the education gap there was no answer. I've heard from one of my colleagues in Iran that the gap doesn't matter but as you know nothing is more precious than first-hand information from the main source, in this case, someone who is well familiar with academia in New Zealand.
    – Afshin
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:21
  • Who did you contact - a specific researcher you are interested in working with, the head of department (say of Mathematics) or a general information officer?
    – J W
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:55
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    What is so special about New Zealand? It is usual to apply to much more than two universities when looking for a place where to do a PhD. If you are serious about doing a PhD, I would suggest you also apply to some other places as you may easily get rejected from the two universities you mentioned. Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you have still being doing research and publishing since your masters. If you have still been keeping your skills fresh, that means you haven't really had a gap, regardless of whether or not you were registered as a student. Just explain this when applying and your gap will not be a concern. Your recommendation letters and publications can attest to that fact.

Age should not be a concern from the university's perspective. Although, a prospective supervisor may wonder about your perspective -- why do you want to do a PhD now? why not earlier? If you can give a good answer about your aspirations, then that will allay any concerns.

  • I have sent a direct email to the Auckland University of Technology and said something that I've asked in the question above. They replied this morning with these words: "We don't have any requirements for consecutive study". What is that mean? Does it mean that it's not a problem if I continue to do my research since my graduation date?
    – Afshin
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 3:06
  • That just means they don't have any rules that would be a problem for you.
    – Thomas
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 5:03
  • Thank you very much Thomas for your comment.
    – Afshin
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 5:45

A general answer, whether encouraging or discouraging won't really help you. What you need to do is apply to a few places, making your best case in the application materials. Don't neglect any aspect of it.

Your applications will succeed or not, based on what your background is and, perhaps, how much support you get in letters of recommendation.

I'd guess, and they say, that your age isn't an issue. As for the rest, it is what it is. You might get some advice from an admissions committee or professor about any gaps you need to fill and then you can address those.

  • Thank you very much for your comment.
    – Afshin
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 20:10

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