Age limit to doing a PhD?

Hi there, I am currently considering doing a PhD. However, I am what you might call a “Late Developer”-I was 65 y/o when I obtained my MA (with Merit, from Durham) and I shall be 70 next year. Am I too old to seriously consider doing a PhD? Would any application from me be taken seriously?



If it helps, Paul, I’m doing my PhD now and will be 60 when finished. I am by no means the oldest candidate in my university, nor within the very competitive consortium to which I won a full studentship.
Go for it! Our brains and bodies have a lifetime of knowledge that enables us to see the world from a different perspective. I know that it makes me worry less and take the process in my stride.
Have fun. Write your own PhD proposal and apply!


Hi Paul.
I heartily concur with Inga.
I am 61 and completed my BA in 2019, Criminology Honours 2021, and have recently been accepted with the full stipend to do a PhD by publication (Australia). If you have a competitive academic record and a well put together proposal that engagingly communicates an interesting project that matches your target Universities grant rich areas, involves publication, and builds on their existing research in some way you have as good a shot as other candidates. An interested supervisor that already knows you can do a lot to key you in before you apply, and to introduce you and your project idea to other potential co supervisors who want your project to go ahead because it is ‘in their wheelhouse’, and because they can potentially co author articles with you.
If you have the energy to do it, go for it.


Paul, I will make Inga and Jay words my words.

But I understand your concern about being accepted. What could give you a clearer idea about your application, try to reach out to the coordinator of the program you are interested in, present a brief description of your profile and ask openly if you should consider applying for the program.

They will probably encourage you to apply but I have some colleagues that did something similar and they heard they should not apply given their profile. A negative answer, in that case, would be good for you to narrow down your options.

Another thing you could do is to explain in your personal letter that you understand you are in a different age group from the common Ph.D. student but from one side you bring more life experience to the table and that you have a system in place to support you through the physical struggle that is natural in a PhD program. It’s all about how you sell it!!


Hi Paul,

Maybe ask yourself a more spiritual question: do you want to transcend to a higher level? And is a PhD the best way? And do you believe that the years you have left (say 20 years) are not wasted… and do you believe in reincarnation so you will benefit in your next lifetime… :raising_hand_man::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Hi, I am 62 and I am doing my PhD. It fills me up, and I’m not ashamed of it. Good luck