Time for PhD?

by Soojung Shin

On the internet I read that half of all graduate students in the US are over 30. I was wondering if there are many jobs that allow you to take time off to get a PhD degree. Besides research ability, what are the other qualifications needed to apply for a PhD and how do adults (who are not going to become professors)  find time to get a PhD?

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One Response to Time for PhD?

  1. Andrew Obus says:

    It may depend on how far along you are in the PhD–I can’t imagine any job giving you a full 4/5 years off to get one, but there were teachers at my high school who were working on their PhDs at night, and were granted a one-year sabbatical to finish the dissertation. Time off for a master’s might be more realistic in some jobs (the NSA might have some sort of program for this).

    I don’t think research ability is strictly required to apply for a PhD–the people who don’t have it usually find out during (or after!) the program, not before 🙂 Certainly you should have a good grounding in undergraduate math, roughly equivalent to that of a math major.

    Also, although 50 percent of all grad students in the US may be over 30, I would guess that a far smaller percentage of math PhD candidates are. Not to say that there aren’t any (Solomon Lefschetz got his PhD at 36), but you probably won’t have much company in most programs. Also, most graduate-level math classes are offered only during the day, so if you still have class requirements, it will help to have a flexible work schedule.
    It will require a lot of night/weekend work, and I would say that at least a semester or year of time off from your day job would be vitally helpful. Good luck!

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