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# Age and a successful academic career

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Intern
Joined: 13 Sep 2004
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14 Sep 2004, 14:36
I browsed some top business schools web site, most professors have no or very limited (2-3) work experience. They completed their Phd in late 20s or early 30s. The question here is: though I heard some people got into a good program in their 40's, do you know anybody who actually succeed in academia even he gets his phd in his 40s?

Second question is:
How rough is the academia career track? Get a good placement after a phd and tenure after that?

Thanks,

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Manager
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08 Oct 2004, 03:17
There are very few examples of PhD completion in 40s and a lot that are in 30s. Tenure depends on school and on your work, not on your age - so that is of less concern, if you are good.

Success is a vague term and one needs to define it for oneself. Many academicians would define success as number of articles published, others would focus on citations, still others on quotations in business press, and some on consultancy offers. So, the answer is "it depends !!"

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08 Oct 2004, 09:05
I agree with Anupag... "Success" in the world of academia is ultimately going to be a function of how you define it. Before giving up your career and entering a PhD program, you should determine exactly what it is you wish to accomplish by doing so.

The great challenge to entering a Business PhD program mid-career (late 30's to 40's) is that the absolute cost is going to be significantly greater. The older you get and the further along in your career you are, the more you have to give up to become a full time student for 4 or 5 years.

This in mind, if you sincerely desire to leave the private sector and enter the academic community and can afford to do so, then by all means, make it happen! It is very possible that your age and experience will enhance you ability to teach, consult & do impactful research.

Best of luck!

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Intern
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Age and the PhD: A personal perspective [#permalink]

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24 Oct 2004, 08:00
I was checking out the site as part of some marketing help I'm giving a test prep company, and came across this thread. I'll pass on my experience.

Two years ago, in my early 40's, I decided I'd put up with too much mismanagement in high tech. I'd always considered a PhD and figured it was time. After investigating schools, I applied to five tier I and II schools, ones that had both management and technology interests in their business schools. I have an MS in Computer Science, and MBA, 18 years in hi tech and extremely hight GMAT scores. I was turned down at every school.

I called a few, to try to get debriefs, and a few folks at other schools just as informational interviews. The responses I received, both directly (from some) and indirectly (from most) were two main problems:
- In my essays, I'd talked about wanted to study the problem and then prescribe solutions to be used in the real world
- I'm in my forties.

In my opinion, business is not theoretical, and the only use of new theories is in order to apply them. However, I was told that tenured faculty, who have rarely ever worked in the real world, don't like hearing that. The other problem was their nervousness as having students not only older than them, but with real world experience. In other departments, an older student still knows much less than a PhD. In business, that's questionable in many areas.

The problem is that older students in business seem to scare the faculty. While I wish you the best of luck, my experience leads me to believe that it will be very hard to get accepted. Be careful about your essay and minimize your experience.

Good luck,
David

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24 Oct 2004, 08:37
David,

Welcome on the board. Your comment is insightful and true !

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Intern
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24 Oct 2004, 16:48
Thanks for everyone's insight on the age issue. I'm 32 and applying this Fall to PhD Programs in Entrepreneurship. I obtained my MBA in 2000 and have had significant experience since then as a business development manager, venture capitalist and management consultant in Asia.

While I do realize that professional experience shouldn't be too emphasized, that's the only strength I have at this time. I have non-stellar undergrad records and test scores (3.0 but triple majored in CS, Econ and Math in college and 3.4 for my MBA coursework and 700 GMAT) and no research experience since my undergrad days 10+ years ago.

A few questions:
1) Should I downplay on my experience?
2) Because I've had several jobs with fancy titles, one may think I'm older than I actually am. I know the application form lets me put my DOB, but just in case, should I remind of my age on my SoP? I know 32 isn't young for PhD applicants but young for my professional achievements.
3) Is this age issue treated differently at tier I and tier II schools? I'm mostly applying to Tier II schools whose programs are generally ranked between 25 and 50 in US News/BW.

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CEO
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24 Oct 2004, 18:21
Quote:
In my opinion, business is not theoretical, and the only use of new theories is in order to apply them. However, I was told that tenured faculty, who have rarely ever worked in the real world, don't like hearing that. The other problem was their nervousness as having students not only older than them, but with real world experience. In other departments, an older student still knows much less than a PhD. In business, that's questionable in many areas.

First off, welcome to the Club. thanks for sharing this.

Just to add my points ... i want to supplement what you have shared.

Business School or any education system is a real system after all. No matter what some in the academic community might think of real world experience, for the most part, we study problems from the real world. You need to do research, especially empirical research, you need data to work on. that data will come from some business. One prof in our dept is simulating the Chevron's supply chain. Plus, think of how many books on strategy, competition, operations, finance...etc.. have been written that outline real world experience , either from consulting projects/ NSF projects. Most of these are written by professors are reputed B-Schools. Dr. Michael Porter's Competitive Strategy is a classic example.

Where i am getting at is.. it really is the personal choice of a school to have specific requirements for Ph.D applicants. I dont think what you mention is true with every school, but yeah, top schools can afford to pick students who have very specific research objectives. If you dont match the schools research focus and thought, it is in YOUR interest not to be accepted because you wont get too much out of the program. Getting into a Phd program and completing it are two very very different objectives. One does not say anything about the success of the other. B-Schools try to pick candidates that have the highest probability of getting through the program.

by the way, i have older colleagues in my program ,and they have to try harder than the 26-27 yr old .. obviously because there is so much catching up to do. But talking to them is a very good learning experience.
Guys and Gals with work experience with experience will be able to teach classes effortlessly because they can relate to the classroom. In my case, with just 2 yrs work ex, i will have to work harder to be make my teaching more conversational, if you will. (As opposed to only reading material from the slides which have like long long sentences instead of summaries )

So, please keep trying and try to reach out to students (but not faculty) in the program of interest and see what their opinions are about this age and experience issue. Once you have the go ahead from students ...only then should you talk to faculty ... many schools will like that you are making an effort to research the programs. If you are in the US, and you are interested in a program in your city, try to contact the program director and see if you can guest lecture a few classes. This might also serve as a good way to get to know faculty and the learning environment before you committ to spending 4 yrs or more in the program.

Hope this helps.
Praetorian

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CEO
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25 Oct 2004, 18:42
Hi,

Please note that many schools have much stronger domain specific ranks than general reputations in BW or US News or EIU or Forbes etc. Even if one is accepted by many of the schools with high domain specific ranks, these schools are certainly willing to cut students from the program who fail to perform up to expectations.

It is important to remember that business professors are still academics. The evidence that one cites for assertions in the academic realm are generally based on facts that are externally verifiable rather than personal anecdotes and "war stories." Real world experiences certainly help in some circumstances to determine what is a common practice or what is feasible but their utility in the academic environment should not be overstated. Moreover, much of the authority that one carries in the classroom is a matter of presentation style and confidence rather than whether the professor spent several years working on that day's subject matter. Indeed, in many industries such experience spoils quickly; the professor's real world experiences from the 1980s or even the 1990s might be comically out of date now.

Hjort

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25 Oct 2004, 20:12
great points... thanks Hjort.

Hjort wrote:
Hi,

Please note that many schools have much stronger domain specific ranks than general reputations in BW or US News or EIU or Forbes etc. Even if one is accepted by many of the schools with high domain specific ranks, these schools are certainly willing to cut students from the program who fail to perform up to expectations.

It is important to remember that business professors are still academics. The evidence that one cites for assertions in the academic realm are generally based on facts that are externally verifiable rather than personal anecdotes and "war stories." Real world experiences certainly help in some circumstances to determine what is a common practice or what is feasible but their utility in the academic environment should not be overstated. Moreover, much of the authority that one carries in the classroom is a matter of presentation style and confidence rather than whether the professor spent several years working on that day's subject matter. Indeed, in many industries such experience spoils quickly; the professor's real world experiences from the 1980s or even the 1990s might be comically out of date now.

Hjort

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Intern
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11 Nov 2004, 10:32
Hi !
I am 37 yrs old working in a leading steel mfg. in India.My domain of expertise is operations and technology management,enterprise computing.
If I start doctorate from the age of 38, do you think that there will be any takers for me, who at the age of 43 (altleast !!) is only a fresh Phd and has worked in Industry for 15 yrs.
Also equally importatnt is that after leaving the formal classroom studies some 15 yrs back, Is it possible to complete the Doctorate in business administration ?

The only motivating factor for me is the inner urge to become an academician and controbute to the student and business community , and the natural instinct of doing roor cause analysis of any business issue in hand.
Are these justified for doing PhD in business.

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Intern
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12 Nov 2004, 16:15
I'm glad I found this thread! Just finished the GMAT with somewhat dissapointing 680. I'm 44 and planning to apply to some MIS phd progs for entry next year, so I was somewhat disheartended to learn of the age bias. I was actually kind of hoping my 20+ years of experience would be a positive, not a negative.

Anyway, maybe with good SOP I still have a shot at Tier II and III. My question is, given a lackluster GMAT, should I use my GRE score instead? GRE scores are 710v 730m and 4.0aw (I'm pretty sure I did better on the GMAT aw since I now know how important length is). This will limit my school choices a bit, but that's OK. Also, although many schools say they will take both, is there a bias towards the GMAT? Some kind of conversion/comparison formula? How bad will my aw score hurt me?

A lot of questions. Any responses and or advice from the gurus will be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Another old phd wannabe [#permalink]

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13 Nov 2004, 04:26
Your GRE score looks fine except the Math score, which must be be below 75 percentile. Ph.D. programs care a lot about quant scores and unless your GMAt's math is lower than, let's say 46, I'd do with the GMAT, assmung AWA isn't any lower on the GMAT.

Or maybe you could report both.

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15 Nov 2004, 12:12
Thanks for all the advice folks. They helped a lot. I took GMAT a while ago and scored 730. I was thinking about retaking it, though my Math section is perfect score, I only made 82% on verbal section: I usually got at least 90% on practice tests. Another concern is: I only got 3.5 on AWA. How important is AWA?

Any body has information on MIS phd? This program used to be really hot during dotcom era and I am quite interested on the topics, however I am not sure about its prospects?

Thanks,

PhdWannabe.

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30 Nov 2004, 17:37
Hi,

I was at the open house at NYU - and the head of the program clearly stated that they do not favor older candidates. They do consider age as a factor.

Personally I don't have a position on the matter since I'm 28, But I believe that older applicants have a clear disadvantage.
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Roy

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09 Dec 2004, 18:16
would it be possible to get into tier 1 or 2 phd programs without having a graduate degree. i checked out some schools and most of them do not require that you have a graduate degree before enrolling into a phd program. would anyone support that statement? what would be the 'minimum' age for a successful phd candidate???

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09 Dec 2004, 18:33
Hi,

Graduate degree is not realy a requirement. Actually if you look at current students at top programs you will see that most of them don't have a graduate degree.

With the right recs and test scores, you can make it with out a graduate degree.
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Roy

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09 Dec 2004, 21:49
thanx for the quick reply roy, i am just starting to research phd programs just as a filler to my spare time, which isn't that much anyway, but i have a growing intereset of purusing a doctorate degree in international business probably. i am going for an MBA first, phd is kinda long shot and still not a goal , just a possibility. but yeah i was considering going for phd at first, then i decided against it i was just curious to see how many people apply for phd programs right outta undergrad school. thanx for the info again.

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09 Dec 2004, 21:49
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# Age and a successful academic career

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