I think in humanities PhD students are a bit older. I was 27 and that's about the youngest research students seem to be at my college. I turn 30 in November and I'm aiming too submit my thesis by the end of September so I probably won't viva before I hit the next decade.
I started at 40, after a career in journalism. I decided to take a year out for my MA just to spend time studying something I was really interested in. Then I got hooked and was offered the chance to do my PhD with my supervisor who had got funding for a big project. A lot of the PhD students I know are the same age as me and in the groups I mix with, mature students are the norm and there are fewer in their 20s.
I was 22 when I started my rotation year and 23 when I started my PhD (I had 4 years funding including a preliminary year).
But as I've just dropped out, I reckon I'll be at least 27 before I start another one. IF I start another one!
My advice? Don't feel you need to rush it. The British system is structured such that people rush straight through a relatively short Bachelors and can theoretically obtain a PhD by the age of 24. I think there is a lot to be said for taking one's time and gathering more experience en route.
But what is wrong with getting a PhD by 24? I will be 24 and am no less qualified than someone who has waited unitl later in life! I have no other distractions, no children, no mortgage, etc. All I have to focus on at the moment is getting my PhD and settling in my chosen career. I am young and am not yet set in my ways therefore I am more flexible in my approach to my PhD.
I was 33. After my MA, I had a long break from education and worked. I think it's better to do it this way, because having a few years of being in the non-academic world gives you time to think about what you're really interested in. If I had chosen the subject of my thesis in my 20s, I would have made a big mistake! These days, I'm so much more certain of what inspires me.
Silly Billy, I think it’s great to get a PhD at 24, you have your whole career ahead of you. Plus the fact that as you say there are no other distractions so you can really focus on your PhD. I started my PhD at the ripe middle age of 35! I think that there are pluses and minuses for being young when you go to start your PhD and pluses and minuses for taking the up the PhD say after the age of 30. I started my undergrad studies as a mature student in my mid twenties. Before going to the PhD I had a couple of years of experience working as an RA. I just couldn’t face more study after my MSc, I wanted time out. So, yes it is great if you can finish your PhD by 24 but even if you are older it’s still ok and you can be older and not set in your ways too much!!!
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