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Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

  • 1.  Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Betsy - Thank you very much for demystifying the doctorate application process from the inside. The information is very helpful.

    I have an additional question related to age that I'm hoping folks may be able to clarify.
    Is age (older age) a factor when reviewing doctorate program applications or when awarding fellowships/stipends/assistanceships/etc?

    I am considering going back to school to earn a Doctorate degree (and likely a Masters degree before I can tackle the Doctorate), but am wondering if my age (70+) might disadvantage me in the application process or inthe financial award process.  Assuming that all qualifications are the same - would a younger student's application likely be given priority over an elder student's?  I would also be looking for financial support - so again - would an elder even be considered to receive support?

    Thank you very much!
    Regards,
    Beth Lord
    bethlord@aol.com


    ------------------------------
    Elizabeth Lord
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  • 2.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 9 days ago
    Elizabeth, this is a good question. In the US, I don't think it's legal to discriminate based on age, so no program would explicitly say they prefer younger applicants.

    Speaking again from the perspective of our program at U Hawaii, I think we value applicants with teaching experience (since most of our graduate assistantships are in teaching) as well as experience presenting at conferences and writing academic texts (we don't expect PhD applicants to have high-ranked peer reviewed journal articles, but it's always helpful to see that you can get something published in your local TESOL affiliate or interest section newsletter). I remember there were several 60+ year old students in the program where I did my PhD (UC Davis School of Education), and they were all able to get assistantships.

    I'm interested to hear what other programs, especially outside the US, say about student age and funding.

    Betsy





  • 3.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 8 days ago
    Betsy,

    Thank you.  Your input is encouraging. 


    It's great to hear that seniors have been successful both in getting accepted into advanced degree programs and in securing financial assistance/awards.


    Thank you very much! I appreciate your input!


    Best regards,
    Beth Lord





  • 4.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 8 days ago
    Greetings!

    I was an older Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri and had an excellent research fellowship that covered my tuition and a modest monthly stipend in return for 20hpw working as a research fellow.

    Honestly, though, if one wishes to enter academia as an instructor after completing the dissertation and graduating, hoping to become an assistant professor and work one's way up, I foresee challenges. Many colleagues warned me universities tend to want to hire new faculty young, so they may benefit long term from the fruits of their acquisition's labors!

    Just putting it out there.

    ------------------------------
    Linda F. Jacobsen, PhD
    K-12 ESL Teacher
    Riverview Gardens School District
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    ljacobsen@rgsd.k12.mo.us
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Linda,

    Thank you for your encouraging input - that, based on your experience, older students are not only accepted into advanced degree programs, but also awarded financial assistance.

    The input on future employment opportunities is a useful awareness.

    Thank you very much!

    Regards,
    Beth








  • 6.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 5 days ago
    I'm going to echo the advice that your age may work against you for an academic career, unfortunately.

    I have a master's in medieval studies (Hi, Robin! There's a lot of us in this field, I'm discovering . . . ), which I started at a traditional age (but didn't finish until a bit older), and I had a conversation at a conference with a fellow Germanist who had gotten her PhD at the "advanced age" of in her 50s and was having difficulty with positions because of that.

    I have a medieval military history colleague who also got her PhD in her late 50s: she does have a teaching position, but it's been a struggle to keep it (and live on it!). Her advice is that you don't want to be paying student loans out of your Social Security. :-/

    (I'm currently working on my master's in applied linguistics in my 50s. I have no plans to go on for a PhD in this field.)

    ------------------------------
    Amy West
    Program Coordinator
    Literacy Volunteers of the Montachusett Area
    United States
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  • 7.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 4 days ago
    Greetings from Riyadh where I came after I retired after 30 years at an American university,

    It's interesting that many have chosen to "ignore" the original question about fellowships and admission. Instead they went to the more challenging question: Should older people get Ph.D.s? Let's come back to that.

    In many countries there are age limits on admission to university programs in general  and definitely limits on scholarships and grants. In the United States, that is not the case. And in general, most fellowships and scholarships in the US are "age-limit-free," and any program that could be shown to have discriminated against a student based on age would be in serious trouble.

    Although it would vary at each institution based on the people involved in making decisions, I can say with absolute certainty that in the 30+ years I served on such committees at the University of Memphis, we never ever even considered age in awarding fellowships or scholarships. My own 'research assistants" ranged from a traditional 23 year-old to a 50-something mother of four.

    Of course, that is just one university. However, I would  be very shocked to hear of any American university where age of candidates was openly discussed at a committee meeting.

    Now the other question about whether older people should work on Ph.D.s is not so easy. Again using my own experience, many of our best Ph.D. students in Memphis were so-called non-traditional students including at least one man who returned to earn a Ph.D. in literature after retiring as a successful businessman.  However, almost all of these non-traditional students either had a job for which they wanted a Ph.D. to advance, or they were earning the Ph.D. for their own personal, non-career purposes.

    Unless I were financially secure, I personally would not want to enter the  tenure-track job market at 50 or older.  Although I've worked with several colleagues who indeed began their careers post 50, they were willing to relocate, work very hard towards tenure, and be at the bottom of the heap for several years. Not for everyone!

    If you are not willing to relocate to almost anywhere in the world (including here in Saudi Arabia!) and are not willing to work through the 5 or 6 stressful pre-tenure years, only get a Ph.D. if it's for your personal goals. Even if you are willing, don't expect to walz into a tenure-track job.

    The alternative model of years of putting together a 'full-time" job by part-timing at several institutions in an area is also extremely stressful and debilitating. On the other hand, I had colleagues who loved teaching one or two classes a semester, but they didn't need the job.

    In other words, it's up to you and must be based on your situation.

    Charles




    ------------------------------
    Charles Hall, Ph.D., dr.h.c
    Legal English, Teaching Training
    International Summer Language School -- TEFL Cert.
    https://isls.zcu.cz/english-isls-2018/?lang=en
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Is age a factor in acceptance to doctorate programs or for financial stipends/grants/fellowships?

    Posted 2 days ago

    Hi Charles,

    Thank you for helping to bring the focus back to the original question!  In my particular case, I would be studying towards a personal goal, not for career growth - so I am more interested in the acceptance and financial support aspect.

    I appreciate your input about admissions and assistantships being age-blind.  It is very welcome and encouraging news!  I had assumed there probably would be an age bias, so am happy to see, from multiple responses, that I was wrong! This opens up all kinds of possibilities for the future.

    Thank you very much for your thorough response!

    Best regards,
    Beth