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I am a 58 year old with two masters: M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and a M.A. in English. I want to get a Ph.D in English Literaturein Critical Theory concentrating on Postcolonial theory. I know I will never be a tenure track teacher. That doesn't bother me. However, I'd like to write to advocate equality for Native Americans. Do I have a chance with my age. I also need a fellowship or scholarships. Will the universe hold it against me because I am 58. I have a GPA of 3.74. I have worked as a public school teacher the entire time I worked on my degrees taking 2 courses most semesters so I can do the work. I'm just afraid of ageism.I want to get into a school for the fall of 13. Ist it too late?   

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I'm 50 and got accepted in a PhD program, likely with full funding. I'm hoping to find out the details this week. 


It is kind of late for Fall 2013, depending on the school. You'll need to look around and really pull a lot of documentation together in a very short period of time. In many cases, even if they are taking applications (i.e. Johns Hopkins until April 1), they are making financial decisions now. You might want to consider going non-matric for a semester then apply for Fall 2014, or Spring 2014. But you might run into funding issues for Spring of 2014 too.


The schools are less interested in someone who wants a TT position and much more interested in people who have a burning question and demonstrated that they can follow through with research at the doctoral level. And I can't emphasize the idea of fit enough.


Overall, I got a good response from professors I was interested in with the following email formula:

1. 2 sentence introduction about me and my credentials -- NO NUMBERS, just professional experience in education trying to link to my next graf.

2. A 2-3 sentence statement about what I want to study, why, and any preliminary work I've already done.

3. Politely asking if they have time to meet with me by phone, or in person if I live nearby.


BUT, I started emailing this time last year.


Good luck.

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Yes, for Fall 2013, most (if not all) English PhD deadlines have passed. RandiZ mentioned Hopkins, but I believe their English PhD deadline is actually in December. 


To your other questions about your age, I don't know. But I can say that in my experience, research is the primary focus of an English PhD program, rather than advocacy. Of course plenty of people in my program and others do have some kind of connection to advocacy--typically those working in fields like postcolonial studies, critical race theory, disability studies, queer theory, feminist theory, ecocriticism, and so on--but your writing for and beyond coursework will be more academic than activist. English PhD programs are incredibly competitive, and regardless of your own professional goals, aim primarily to train students for academic jobs. 


You may receive more responses on the "Literature, Rhetoric, and Composition" board, which is very active.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think you should always be confident if you do good work. You will have to work hard given that you're competing with students who may not have children or full-time careers that contend with their coursework. But if you are competitive, I don't see why your age should be an issue.

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