PhD after 35



I'm 35, at a dead end job and I'm thinking I should have gone to academia in the first place. I don't have any research or book published yet and I have a BA in Econ/Int. Studies.

I'm thinking of starting a Quantitative Psychology PhD.

Am I too old? Will i have any chance to get a job after I graduate?

If you could impart any wisdom that'd be great.

Thanks a ton.


You are never too old to do a PhD. I don't think your age should be a problem for getting a job afterwards either.
I am a little bit older than some other PhD students in my department and I sometimes get twinges that I am sooo old and not any further than the fresh-from-undergraduate studies PhD students (23 or so?), but in actual fact I did something else before the PhD, so it's kind of comparing apples with pears. I think the key is that you really want to do the PhD, love your topic and that seeing people your own age being lecturers does not upset you. Go for it!(up)


No, definitely not too old - in most countries completing a PhD in one's 30s in pretty standard anyway. I know people who have started PhDs in their 40s, and now have successful academic careers, and they tend to do very well (maybe it's the maturity factor).

Your actual stumbling block might be a gap in knowledge/research methodology skills etc. Doing a masters or diploma usually offsets this problem.


I met a man at a seminar yesterday who was 59, and then saw a 3 + 1 studentship advertised (which he got), and thought "hell, why not, I want to do this" and did! So late in life, he's started towards an academic career.


I've just submitted my PhD which was partly quant psych based. I did a masters first - which I would advise, not so much because of the gap since your first degree but because, like me, you will be changing fields. You might find it difficult to get accepted, even self-funding, without a masters in psychology. I did my masters at 39.

Psychology is very competitive (becaue it's a very popular subject) but I am not finding age to be any factor in getting post-PhD employment.


Hey there! You should be fine with respect to age. I am doing a PhD in Clinical Psychology and there are a number of PhD students in our department who are in their 30s and 40s. But I would say that you are likely to need a masters degree first- as the others have mentioned, it is a very competitive area, and funding isn't easy to get. And quite aside from that, I did a BSc in Clinical Psychology and I would have struggled to do my PhD with no MSc, and I have stayed in the same subject area! Good luck, KB.


Thanks for the replies everyone. So what I gather is 35 is not a terrible age to start.

The reason I want to change to psych is the horrible math prerequisites for econ PhD's and I'm not sure I want to work on money and business. If i did an econ PhD I would probably want to do "alternative economic systems" but I don't think there's any job-market for that. What do you think? If I have to do a master's anyway for psych, maybe I can complete my math requirements in one/two years and apply for Econ, although Econ is very very competitive as well.

I have read in a few places that there's a lot of demand for quant psychologists and not enough supply. From what I have read it seems like quant psychologists are mostly prepared to become test-makers. Is that true? Are you pretty much stuck with the testing industry?

Thanks a lot for all the feedback in advance.


Hi again! Excuse my utter ignorance, being in psychology I'm sure I should know better, but what exactly is 'quantitative psychology' defined as? Obviously, most people in psychology use quantitative stats (as well as qualitative stuff) to analyse their data, but would a PhD in quantitative psychology be researching the statistical techniques and developing measures/tests...? Or do you mean a PhD in another aspect of psychology which will be analysed quantitatively?! Sorry for the confusion, have not heard too much about this field of psych! KB


What I meant was psychometrics but I guess that's not the same thing as quantitative psychology. However, there are some people out there who use the two terms interchangably? I am confused as well. :-)


I think you're right that quant/psycometrics is in some demand because of the heavy math load. Which are you more interested in - econ or psych, that's the important thing? A PhD is a long slog and you will need some enthusiasm for your subject. If I had a background in econ - I would get into game theory as applied to behavioural research. I still might one day - when I have a spare year or so to learn the math :p

Once you are embroiled in psychometrics or similar it seems that you do tend to stay with that in some form or other.


======= Date Modified 19 Jun 2009 01:56:18 =======
maybe, or maybe not? is everything else in your life sorted out? if its for fun, I'd say go for it, but if your going to be intense as I was studying and working around the clock, it takes its toll on your health - life is too short.....then you realize, there's alot of people who'll pull you down, and you'll get alot of elbowing along the way (if you know what I mean - cos some people will try to knock everyone down in the gutter clearing the path for themselves - have experienced it).....then after all your heart,soul, energy into it, it can be a pot-luck thing in the end and this discrediting can be very disheartening.

Or it could work the other way, and you could sail through, three years fly's in...and you might find your supervisor to be my current supervisor and also the chair of the department are both excellent lecturers, very kind and very helpful, it is good to have someone to consult with easily...but that is not always the case sometimes I've heard from people in other uni's who's lecturer's went off somewhere else, leaving things hanging, etc...guess you need to make sure the supervisor is easy accessible/practical things too

Students can differ too, some kind and decent - and some very scary what they do (I mean viciously very scary)....(either way: main advice, keep moving - cos you can't hit a moving target)

Take it with a pinch of salt (if that's the phrase), people can be nasty but its the nice ones that count