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50 year old PhD?

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50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 13 Aug 2010, 20:32
I'm hoping there are some business PhD students out there who can speak to this. I am 50, and am looking at returning to school to earn my PhD in I.T. or similar field. I have an MBA from Penn State, class of '88. I have 20+ years of experience in high tech, including senior/exec management roles, and a lot of start up experience. I was told back in my MBA days that I had PhD potential but I was too intent on making my MBA bucks at the time. Now I would like to reinvent myself, focus on research and teaching, and make a difference in the world of business. I understand that half or less of PhD candidates complete their program and dissertation, and it would be interesting to know why. I am not stuck on a top tier school, but would prefer a program that shares my interests, has professors that I can relate to and share interests with, and will allow me the freedom and support to explore my passions. I have found that "second best" organizations often try much harder, have better stipends, and more research opportunities. Fortunately, in Central Texas, I have a lot of options without moving. Comments? Opinions? My kids think this is a great idea, the spouse...not so much.
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2010, 06:39
texasjg wrote:
I'm hoping there are some business PhD students out there who can speak to this. I am 50, and am looking at returning to school to earn my PhD in I.T. or similar field. I have an MBA from Penn State, class of '88. I have 20+ years of experience in high tech, including senior/exec management roles, and a lot of start up experience. I was told back in my MBA days that I had PhD potential but I was too intent on making my MBA bucks at the time. Now I would like to reinvent myself, focus on research and teaching, and make a difference in the world of business. I understand that half or less of PhD candidates complete their program and dissertation, and it would be interesting to know why. I am not stuck on a top tier school, but would prefer a program that shares my interests, has professors that I can relate to and share interests with, and will allow me the freedom and support to explore my passions. I have found that "second best" organizations often try much harder, have better stipends, and more research opportunities. Fortunately, in Central Texas, I have a lot of options without moving. Comments? Opinions? My kids think this is a great idea, the spouse...not so much.


I think improving oneself at any age is a great thing. However, because of your age, the biggest obstacle will be money. You are looking at 3-4 years of no income, or very little income. Don't know what kind of money you expect to make aftewards to sustain your lifestyle, but the income for the first years will not be impressive. Figure you will be in your 60's before you start making decent money.

If money is not an issue then good luck and go for it!
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2010, 19:14
Yep, money is an issue. Used to making 6 figures, so living on spouse's income while putting 2 kids through college isn't too popular an idea around here. No one wants to make any lifestyle changes, either. Suprisingly, the kids want me to go for it and think it's cool.
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 06:18
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texasjg wrote:
Yep, money is an issue. Used to making 6 figures, so living on spouse's income while putting 2 kids through college isn't too popular an idea around here. No one wants to make any lifestyle changes, either. Suprisingly, the kids want me to go for it and think it's cool.


Maybe you can do some consulting on your own part-time to supplement your income while in school.
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2010, 08:02
That's an excellent idea. I hadn't thought of that.
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2010, 05:36
texasjg ... i'm glad to see another 50yo with the desire to get a PhD. I wanted to do this from about 15 years ago but like you, I wanted to make money. I'm a single mom making a 6 figure salary and I'm asking myself if I'm crazy to even think of this endeavor -- anyway my son is now off to College and I'm almost a 100% sure that I will be applying for the Fall 2011 term (not sure which schools yet). I'm just scared of taking the GMAT and seeing all these entries with 700+ is not making it easier :) Have you taken the GMATs as yet?
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 02 Nov 2010, 05:55
I am actually taking the GRE today. A lot of business programs are accepting GRE or GMAT. I would strongly recommend a prep class tho.
I took a Princeton Review class, made a 200 point difference on my practice test scores. Good luck to you!

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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 18 Dec 2010, 18:39
Wow, I thought I wrote the first part of the corp@Phd post. I am a single mom with a six figure income--marketing exec and adjunct professor. I've been contemplating a PhD in marketing since 1996 and finally made the leap this year. I'm applying to six schools.....GMAT was not great today, but fingers crossed for admission to one of my target schools. I will most likely take it again--tough after 20 years out of school. The odd thing is, I teach at three very highly regarded universities. But I don't spend a lot of time on combinatronics and 30-60-90 triangles--ugh!


Best of luck to all!
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 19 Dec 2010, 21:03
phd2011 ... i guess we're on similar paths?? I have not taken the GMATs as yet -- can't work up the courage. I am trying to see if I can find schools that are more accepting of 'older' applicants. Even though I'm 50 I don't feel like it and I don't think I look like it either :) but I can see the ADCOMs writing me off as soon as they see the number (or years of exp). Do you care to share the list you're applying to -- my program area is Management/IS not Marketing.
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 20 Dec 2010, 00:18
corp2Phd,
I sent you a PM. One more thing....you may be behind schedule for Fall 2011. I am scrambling to catch my deadlines. We can discuss further on PM. It will all work out!
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 20 Dec 2010, 08:47
I'm surprised to learn about your plans. I'm in my 40s, and feel really great pressure about my age issue. I also have problem with GMAT, given that I'm a non-native speaker, naturally weak in verbal.
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 20 Dec 2010, 09:15
I'm not really worried about the age thing except it is making me move forward rather than delay another year. My biggest challenge is financial....but I'm working on overcoming that. Learning to live on nothing is pretty scary to me....but I can do it!

I used Manhattan GMAT prep books and a couple of online courses and would highly recommend it. Good luck!
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2011, 11:53
It's great to hear other 50 year olds applying to Phd business programs. I too have considered this for quite a long time and began the process of speaking to schools and old professors in the past year. I have 20 years of Marketing experience with top tier CPG companies. Last year when I spoke to some admissions people at top 10 business schools I was deeply discouraged by the ageism at these programs. After speaking with some old b-school professors, I am now focusing on second tier schools in the southeast and hope to start in Fall 2012. Keep me posted on your efforts. It's quite encouraging!!!
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2013, 19:33
I am 42 and in the process to take the GMAT !! Please update your history to learn from you....
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Re: 50 year old PhD? [#permalink] New post 13 Mar 2013, 02:44
I found this posting most encouraging that people who are 50 are setting such high goals for themselves and willing to take this risk. Bravo to all of you.

We advised a client who was in his late 40's a few years ago who was applying to PhD programs after a successful corporate career. What we found was that most of the top programs did not have much interest in him despite his vast knowledge and experience. We did find that a lot of schools in the second tier (especially the second tier state universities) were much more receptive. This guy did not have any illusions of reaching full professorship at HBS, Stanford or Wharton so he became fine with idea of attending such a program and figuring out where he would land when he was closer to finishing. He is now in his second year and loving life.

On another front, I have a personal friend (we met walking our dogs) who just got admitted to a top 3 medical school at the age of 56. She applied to 30 schools and received a mixed-bag of results and responses. The dean at one of the schools interviewed her privately and said he was so impressed an inspired by her determination (accepted). At another school she was interviewed by a panel of students who did not understand why she did not have a role model at her age (rejected). I guess the applied learning I can make from this is just be prepared for anything.

Good luck.

Kimberly Plaga
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Manhattan Review

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Re: 50 year old PhD?   [#permalink] 13 Mar 2013, 02:44
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