I was doing a PhD in a different subject and that was going nowhere and I lost interest in everything that I was doing. But I always loved mathematics and during the dark days of my 3rd of my (former) PhD. I happened to meet some exceptional theoretical CS people who encouraged me a lot. One of them got me as a TA and I am starting afresh in this new field.

How optimistic should I be about a career ahead?

I want to be a researcher/faculty.

  • 7
    Starting PhD at 27 is not old at all.
    – seteropere
    Dec 5, 2014 at 6:05
  • 1
    I will start my PhD at 29. Don't feel old.
    – Gimelist
    Dec 5, 2014 at 8:37
  • 2
    I finished my CS Master's at 26 (27 now). If you told me I was getting old for a PhD, I'd just give you the old fish eye. I think my dad got his PhD in CS in his mid-30s. I mean, let's say you finished your PhD at 35. You'd still have 30 years of potential teaching ahead of you. Some of your students wouldn't even be born when you finished your PhD!
    – Compass
    Dec 5, 2014 at 16:31

4 Answers 4


How much do my career prospects suffer if I start a mathematics/CS PhD. at the age of 27?

Not at all. 27 is not considered "old" by any stretch of the imagination.

Also see this answer on MathOverflow and this question here on Academia about a PhD student who is actually unusually old.


Suffered compared to what? What is the alternative?

If the alternative is completing your current program that appears to be going noowhere, how long will it take you to complete that? And, given that in your words you have no passion for it, how good that research would be?

If the alternative is dropping out of PhD program? Well, your odds of becoming a faculty with no PhD are zero.

Take what you can from your current field, and go where your passion is. It is 30 years career ahead of you. By already working on a PhD, you learned basics how to do research, write papers, etc... The fields will be different, but you still have a head start. And whatever your other field was, you will bring a new, fresh perspective to your new field.

  • 2
    I bet there are a lot of faulty people with no PhDs. Faculty, on the other hand... Dec 5, 2014 at 20:13
  • @TrevorWilson there is an edit button...
    – user18072
    Jan 5, 2015 at 1:45
  • 2
    @AAA What, and ruin my joke? :-) Jan 5, 2015 at 3:11

You're not alone and you're not old. I started my PhD when I was 25, hated it after 1.5 years, actually found out what I fancy doing, applied for a PhD in that field and I'm starting that PhD next month. Losing 1-2 years is way better than spending 3+ years in a field that you don't like (moreover, you're likely to perform below your potential since, well, you don't like that first field. Imagine what you can accomplish in a field you actually feel excited about).


As some people have stated before, 27 is not really that old to be in continuing education. I work with a colleague at GTRI who is just starting a Math PhD at 27 so its not as unusual as you would think. I think it would really depend on which industry you are involved in or plan on being involved in.

If you like/want to run in startup scene than the time you spend earning a PhD may not serve you as well as trying to get involved with an incubator program.

If you are in industry, but not doing R&D, than you may not need a PhD either. Most CS is not at the PhD level, even when technically advanced.

If you are working for a research lab affiliated with a university, or working with a company that does/funds PhD level research programs in Computer Science, than go for it. Especially if you are going to be working while you are enrolled, many people roll their career work into their research project.

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