Are you too old to Study in USA ? 10 Years of Experience, 35 Years age ?

In Study in USA by KumarUpdated : 296 Comments

I see many of our readers ask questions in our Study in USA Forum section regarding their decision to study in USA after 7 to 10 Years of work experience or at the age of 35 or 40 years.  Many of them could not pursue their dream of higher education at their early age due to various factors of family pressures, financial difficulties, no clarity, etc…now, they are wondering, if it is the right thing to study abroad like in USA. Many of them are unsure, how they will be received in the classes and will they be able to cope with their younger peers in the class.  This article focuses on shedding some light on the reality at Graduate schools in America and if it is the right age for you to study.

Average Age of Graduate Student ( MS or MBA) in United States – Distribution

As per the research by National Center for Education Statistics, the average age of graduate student is about 33 years. Also, the below table from the same report indicates the age distribution of a typical graduate student enrolment.  Key stat to look at is that about 50% of the graduate students are over 30 years of age.

 Average Graduate Student Age Distribution in USA

Are you too Old to go back to School and Study Masters ?

Looking at the above data, you can notice that over 22% of the students are over 40 years and about 28% of the students are between 30 and 40 years. Data speaks volumes…You do NOT need to worry that you are too old.  You are not old to go back to school. There are quite a few students in the same age group. In fact, when I did my MS and MBA, I have personally noticed the same. Many of my teammates were much older than me, it was fun to have all the experience folks in the class and my team as well.  You are NOT too old to go back to school ! You bring in a lot of value to the class and make it more engaging.

Pursue your dream of Higher Education  with Passion

When you are thinking about going back to school, you need to very clear on your goals.  As you are already quite experienced, most of the times, your degree may NOT be giving you the instant return as you would expect immediately, unless it is a requirement as part of the job.  If you always wanted to get higher education and experience the education system in America, it is totally fine, just go for it. Also, pursuing higher education with the goal to settle in America has to be considered with caution, with the H1B Lottery. Read Apply for MS with H1B Lottery .  Also, you do NOT have to pursue MS or MBA in your same field or area, you can change your major or specialization in MS.  If it was your dream to study Marketing but you somehow ended up in Computer Science in Bachelors, it is your chance to switch majors and pursue that dream.  Just plan it such that your education can help you make a career transition.

If you can afford the time with family commitments and have money to fund your education, it is an enriching experience to study in America.  There are so many great things about education in America, it is not about just the classes and research, it is about the activities that are part of the student life like Student Orgs , Student Leadership Activities, etc. that define the overall student life experience, … Many might question your decision as it may not be pragmatic, but what the heck? If it is your dream, go for it!  Many dream, only few dare to achieve it…Are you that one?

Next steps to Study, if you decide that age is not a bar and ready to commit ?

First thing you need to do is think about your goals for studying in US, what is is your passion. Once you know what you want to achieve, you need to plan to accomplish that.  Below are some steps to get started.

  • Step 1 : Research for Universities that offer the Degree or program you want to pursue and create a list of the Universities that offer the degree or program you plan to pursue.
  • Step 2 :  Pick 4 to 5 of them universities that you plan to study based on some factors that you prefer like ranking, fees or proximity to cities, etc.
  • Step 3 : Visit each of the shortlisted Universities websites and then look for requirements to get admission in those schools. Usually you need to go to the Admissions website and then to the specific School web page like School of Engineering, School of Business, etc.
  • Step 4 : List down the common requirements across these schools and make it part of the plan you want to study. Usually most of them need GRE, TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Step 5 : Start to apply after taking the required tests. You can write to admissions and get details as needed.
  • Step 6 : After you get admission, attend visa interview as needed and then travel to study in that University.  That’s it !

What do you think ?  Did you choose to go back to school after significant experience ? Share your experiences


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Comments ( 296 )

  1. umang

    Hi , my name is Umang and currently working in IT company in India with 10 years of work experience. Can i pursue MS or MBA in US/Canada after a gap of 10 years in previous study ( i graduated in 2009). I went to one consultancy and they told me that i cannot pursue MS as colleges won’t give me admission due to huge gap between previous studies ( 10 years).
    My question is are the universities not giving admission to people who wish to study after huge gap ?

    1. administrator

      Yes, you can. No, that is wrong information. You can apply to any school of your choice. You need to get good scores in GRE, TOEFL and then have a good Statement of purpose, then you can apply and get admission. Yes, they will. As I said in article, many of my classmates were much older with a lot of gap.

  2. Casmir

    I am working in Dubai and have 6 years of experience in oil and gas industry, I would like to pursue MS in engineering management STEM course from US and I am trying to get in to university based in texas which would help me to get oil and gas industry job. Usually I see students getting jobs in Software sector, I have never seen anyone getting into oil and gas sector, My concern is, how easy to get the job in US with my oil and gas industry experience? Will I still have an opportunity to get a job in different sector? Thanks!

    1. administrator

      Absolutely you can get something in Oil and Gas. Your thought process is right, you should get into any schools in and around Houston area as there are many Oil and Gas Companies. It is no different for getting job in other sectors, there will be challenges, you need to apply give interviews and get role. So, if you are passionate, then go for it. But, you need to be aware of the H1B lottery situation in US as well.

  3. Sam

    Hi, I have done my Master’s in Biotechnology from India. After that I have worked in clinical research industry for 10 years.
    I am confused, if I want to study further in USA, can I apply directly for Ph. D. or I have to apply for MS first and then later do Ph. D.?

    Also I want to know the scopes of H1 Visa for students graduating from the life science field? I have heard that people who are into software industry are more likable to get Sponsorship from the companies? While its not the easy Sponsorship from Life Science graduates?

    Do you recommend, with this experience and interest, is it advisable to go to USA for MS/Ph. D. at this point of time and age?

  4. Kalpesh

    Hello ,

    Myself kalpesh . i am 31 years old i have done my MBA from india in 2014 then i got job in sales and marketing. now i have total 5 years of experience. i wanted to pursue MS in digital marketing. Can my age and study gap does matters while admission in US and visa process as well ???..Thanks

    1. administrator

      No, it does not really matter for admission. Many with much older age get admission and visas… If you are passionate, go for it.

  5. Vijay Trivedi

    I am 42 year, want to peruse MBA from USA, is TOFEL is good enough for this or I have to take GTE too.

  6. Geetha.S

    Am a teacher currently working ,with 20 yrs of experience .Now i think i need a masters degree in child phycology ,want to know vsrious methods used in forgien countries.Am at my 50s five more yrs to retire. which course is good and the university in US and also wants to know the proceders

    1. administrator

      That’s commendable that you have the passion to study and learn. I wish I could suggest you on the universities. You will need to do your own research and apply for schools. I have added Next steps section to the above article. Please read that to get high level idea. Good Luck !

  7. Bolormaa Tsetsgee

    Hi, I’m 42 years old and i have two kids, one 11 years old, another 2 years old. I have almost 17 years of work experience as an HR and Admin specialist, but i’m thinking for the last few years that if I have any opportunity to study in the USA to learn more about the Human Resources. So, do you think i will have any chances to study in the USA doing my master’s degree now? I’m from Mongolia. Pls kindly reply to my question. Thanks, Bolormaa

    1. administrator

      You have absolutely every chance to study in US. There is no differentiation based on your age and you will really like it. You need to start researching for schools, take required tests and then apply for the same. Read to Next Steps to study section above.

  8. Shekhar

    I have few years of experience in Data science and want to do MS in Artificial Intelligence.
    I am over 37. Can I do it? and I am going to take loan for it. Is it worth it?

    1. administrator

      Yes, you can do it. Well, the worth depends on what you want to get out of it. If you already have experience, it may or may not help you with career directly, as you already have experience…But, such degree is a requirement for your job, then you may get more value…Also, if your goal is passion to learn more and experience it, then of course worth it…in terms of visa and other things, you need be practical about H1B lottery, etc. Read Study in US with H1B lottery

  9. Sameera

    I have completed my bsc microbiology, zoology and chemistry as majors back in 2002.
    Due to financial restrictions and family commitments, i couldnt persue my masters, am 37 years now and i would love to go for masters.
    Is that possible to persue masters and switch my majors.
    Kindly suggest

    1. administrator

      Yes, it is absolutely possible. You can apply to any school and pursue Masters. You can switch majors as well. Research schools, find requirements, take the required tests, and apply. You may be asked to take some pre-requisite courses, if you want to change major.

  10. Irfan Bin Khalid

    Dear Sir,

    My name is irfan and i’m 27 years old and i did my graduation in the year of 2013 now i want to do MBA from US could you please advise we am i eligible to do MBA and what is the procedure.


    1. administrator

      You are eligible for it. The procedure is you need to research for the schools online and look at specific requirements for the schools that you want to study at and take the tests required and apply for the same.

  11. Mohammed Rahamathullah

    My name is Mohammed, I have around 12 years of IT Experience for SAP BOBI Administrator. I have completed Bsc physics and then joined in Wipro as WASE and completed MS degree as work integrated course .

    Currently i have a desire to do higher studies in USA but my present age is 34, i am looking for any Technical course like 1 or 2 yrs in USA, will it be possible for me to do higher studies in USA? any help would be really appreciated.

    what are the details do i need to check and any best possible way to get higher studies for me?


    1. administrator

      Of course, you can. You have couple of options, either to do a full blow one year fast track program like in Kellog for MBA or normal 2 year masters program. Off the top of my head, I do not know such courses for Technical stuff, you need do research. Your age is not an issue.

  12. Sandeep Vishvkarma

    I sandeep Vishvkarma, pursued Engineering in Chemical, Working in One of the MNC (Govt. Organisation).
    I would like to prefer MS in USA , For that what to do ? Is there any mean by which I can directly applied for admission in USA on the basis of 9 years of experience.

  13. Nabin

    Hi my name is nabin and I am from Nepal actually my question is I have passed my 10 standard 11 years ago and after that I didn’t study now I want to study in abroad and complete my study can anybody help me

    1. administrator

      What do you want to study ? First, you need to complete your 11th and 12th grade and then look at Bachelors degree. Visit any college around you and get guidance, they will help you.

  14. Subrat Majhi

    I am currently doing Btech WILP program of BITS and working in UAE as an engineer. I want to know whether I can do regular MBA from US/Europe universities and suggest some of the best universities?

  15. Sowmya


    I’m Sowmya. I applied for ms in CS at university of Dayton in fall 2018. But due to family commitments (I have a daughter of 6 years and she is studying in UKG).
    Deferred my admission to spring 2019.
    Now this month I gave 2 times visa interview. Both time I got rejection from Chennai embassy.

    I don’t know what to do? Not sure to apply again. My classes starts from Jan 14th.

    Please need suggestion.

    1st interview: was nervous.
    Visa officer told I’m a fully established professional. Going to make big money

    2nd interview:
    Lady officer: asked y usa?

    Then 214 b letter.

    Now I have full family support.
    But don’t know what to do?


    1. administrator

      It can be tricky with 214(b), we may not know what the visa officer is looking for…sometimes, you may have everything right, but if they believe that based on your profile and conditions that you may not return back, then they would just issue 214(b). Sometimes, people get it after few attempts, sometimes some do not get it…All you can do is be confident and try to answer with conviction on why USA, why studying in US and you plan to come back for so and so reasons…

  16. Bhoomika

    Hi Kumar, thanks for the useful article. I am 43 with more than 15 years of teaching experience in a medical college after completing my MBBS MD in nonclinical subject. I have an intense desire to persue my PhD in USA in health related areas. Can I apply to Universities in USA for PhD in my interest areas without GRE and TOFEL?
    Do they consider my application without GRE?

    1. administrator

      Yes, you can. Well, you will need GRE and TOEFL as they are pretty much required for majority of the good schools. You may seek a waiver from the school, but I doubt, if they will waive it. It can also become an issue at Visa stamping, if you skip them. You can write to few schools and seek their advice, if they can waive.

  17. Prateik amirapu

    Hi i am prateik amirapu I have studied only till 12th class or intermediate I failed and quit my BTech is there anyway to start studying for associates degree in US/Canada I am very poor in studies so plz suggest me a easygoing course

  18. Bishnu Bahadur Bhujel

    Helllo Mr. Kumar,

    I am from Nepal, and 36 years old.
    I had completed my B.E. in Electronics & Communications at 2006 from Nepal at a renowned University of Nepal with average grade.

    And then I started working in Nepal. Now I want to complete Masters as well as Ph.D. in same field.
    Could I eligible to get VISA in USA for further studies in USA.

    Bishnu Bahadur Bhujel

    1. administrator

      Yes, you are eligible to study Masters and PhD in same field and get visa to study in US. Getting visa depends on many factors and not in our control, but if you have admission from good schools, it should not be a problem.

  19. MRoy

    Hello Kumar,

    I am into the IT industry for approx 12 years now and previously a B.Tech in ECE.
    WHile I have been working into core Business Intelligence and DataWarehousing technologies I now want to take a shift into the Data Science and associated technologies and want to pursue a Masters in that.My query is that since now I am 35+ does it really make sense to get a masters.
    ALso is it possible to get a direct entry for a PHD course and if yes then how.
    Please help me by sharing your thoughts.

    1. administrator

      Yes, if that is what you are passionate about, you should pursue it. Yes, you can apply for PhD directly without doing MS. Reach out to few schools that are of your interest and write to few professors of the potential schools that are you are thinking about and then start the process. You need to be clear on the goal for MS in USA

  20. Khim

    Hi . You article is very good . Thanks for the deep info, I am sure this article is helping many people around . My problem is now I am 36, I have done only class 12 in commerce (2001) , due to some problem I was not able to complete my further studies . I was a average student . After my 12 I started to work. Later I realised that I am very much interested in computer so while doing job I also did some short term computer course like diploma in computer hardware and networking and later I started working as IT support . I even did few more short computer courses and continued working in IT filed . Now my question is if after so many years of gap can I go abroad and do my graduation in IT ? Is there any chances ? It will be very much helpful if you reply and clear my doubts . Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator

      Of course, you can. You hav every chance to get admission. Your gap in education does not really matter. You need to articulate your passion for higher education in your Statement of Purpose, so that they understand your situation. Go for it, you will be fine to get admission.

  21. Suvro Das

    Hi Kumar,

    Can a person, if otherwise eligible, apply for PhD in business in any good US university at the age of 51? The prospective candidate has an MBA from top Indian University and an MPA from Ivy League University in addition to almost 28 years of experience in the financial sector.

    Thank you

    1. administrator

      Yes, why NOT ? There is no age discrimination in US schools. I have had someone like in early 70s doing Masters along with me. Having someone in late 40s or early 50s is very common…your age should not restrict you from pursuing your passion.

  22. broyal

    i want to delve into I.T sector but i have a B.A in religion from one of the African universities, but i want to move to the united states to pursue this dream of mine i am currently age 30, but it seems i am too old for an undergraduate…any advise on how to attain this dream of mine at this age

    1. administrator

      No, it is never late to get a degree, in what you want to pursue. If you want to change career, you can start to apply for a Masters degree in your field of interest, instead of another bachelors degree. You will be asked to do some foundation courses, that’s it.

  23. Anonymous

    My story is different. I have dropped my studies after 12th and completed my graduation in English lit from IGNOU in 2015 .Right now pursuing masters from IGNOU also.Is it possible to enroll myself in PhD program in US?I am 35 now.

  24. Jayant

    Dear Kumar, sorry but I do not agree with you at all.
    I have personally contacted several agencies who are the market leaders in the MBA admission filed. The crux of the conversation is that if you’re above 30-32, its VERY VERY difficult to break into the top 10 MBA colleges in the US.
    Maybe you have different stats.

    1. administrator

      I am not sure, whom you have talked to…it is misleading info. Talk to the actual school admission department in top schools, not middle agencies.
      I know many friends who have been accepted at over 35 years into top 10 schools. Many students in late 20s apply and pursue MBA, that does not mean that you cannot get into a school, if you are 30+. Age really does not matter, your experience, your essays, your credentials like scores & acads matter…not your age…

  25. Sumeet

    Hi Kumar,

    I am a Graduate Mechanical Engineer. I am 38 years old. Presently I am working in design field of Oil and gas industry with experience of 13 years. I like technical field very much . That is why I had choosed Mechanical engineering. My wish was to do higher study (Mtech, MS) , but due to family responsibility I did not go for it. But now I feel saturated in my present field . I want to go either MS or MBA in US/Canada. Not yet decided. But my doubt is when I will complete MS/MBA, I will be 41 years old , then can I get jobs in US/Canada ? Will the industry accept me over there because my age?

    1. administrator

      It all depends on what you want to do after your higher education either MS or MBA. Everything depends on your internship and what you can make it with that. Also, to give you perspective immigration in US is not very friendly with H1B lottery and other new measures…I would think Canada could be a better choice, if you find a good University…Again, you need to be clear on what you want to do in life and then use Higher education like MS or MBA to help you get there….take time to think and make a decision. Your age will not really matter, you will be able to succeed and get a job of your choice…

    2. rabi kant

      Hi Sumeet ,
      i am under very similar situation and similar profile.Really need suggestions if any canadian university will offer me admission or not.

  26. Gopal

    I am 26 now. I had completed my MCA last year and have 2 year gaps(while i was preparing for competitive exams). I wana do MS in CyberSecurity. Is is good for me to do MS or i need to get job experience before MS. I can opt for Phd too but only if i get full grant in tution fees.

    1. administrator

      If you really passionate about going deep in that subject of interest and pursuing a career in that, it is a good choice. Many are not clear on what they want to do. You already have a Masters, you need to think about the reality of getting another masters and the value add of new masters…take time to think about it, how much it will add value, then proceed. If you are passionate about it, then go for it.

  27. Ram

    Hello Kumar,
    I am having a total of 5.5 years of experience in IT industry working with a big MNC. I have a B.Tech degree in CSE and have a good CGPA of 9+. I am thinking about pursuing MS in CSE from USA, but due to current Immigration rule changes and Visa complexities, I am afraid of apply for any full-time course.
    So, I was going through online MS offerings from Universities in US. Is it a good idea to pursue online MS degree course?

  28. Revanth

    Thanks for Nice Article. I need some advice regarding my career. I have a PG in MCA and have around 10 Years of experience in IT. Currently working in USA as full time in one of the MNC on H1b (already completed 3 years of my visa ). My company is not going to file GC and i am not getting any call from consultants or companies.. thinking either to do MS or go for certification which will give some light to my career.Feeling like sinking in ocean and everything BLACK around. Please suggest what will be the best options for me

    1. administrator

      I would look at it other way around, what do you see yourself doing in next 5 to 10 years ? Think from that perspective so that you can pick something that will add value to your goal and help you get there. Just doing for the sake of doing without concrete goal in mind may not be of great help.

  29. Peppy

    Hi kumar,

    It was a nice article. I’m 32 and has around 10 years of experience in IT field. I couldn’t appear for masters soon after doing my graduation due to commitments mentioned in your article. Now still i see there are more financial commitments now. would there be any such possibility in US that will help me work & study go in parallel.


    1. administrator

      If you can get a job in MNC that has office in US and then talk to the company, let them apply for work visa for you and then move to US, so that you can work and study either on weekends or evenings, typically considered part time, but degree will be same.

  30. Prashant

    Hi Kumar,

    Nice article. Really helped.
    I am having 13 years of experience in software industry and always wanted to do MS from US. Due to my responsibilities towards family, I couldn’t do that. Now, I wan’t to pursue my dream by my GPA is very poor (56%) with a one year gap and 12 backlogs in total. Do I have a chance to get admit in US universities for Master’s in Computer Science? How I can convenience the VISA officer?


  31. Siddharth

    hello Kumar,
    i am siddharth. i have completed my diploma in civil engineering in 2004. i have worked in various company from last 13 years. now i am currently associated with a good company as a deputy manager but i also wish to complete my degree in same field. so question is that can i complete my degree course in usa now? my current age is 38 years. i am married & have a 3 years son. please reply.

    1. administrator

      Yes, it is always a good idea to go back to school and get your degree. You can definitely complete your degree in US. Age is definitely not a problem. If you can afford to study in US and take time off, it should be fine.

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