Does it look bad to stay in graduate school for a bit longer?


After high school, I did military service and worked in a different industry. I then started architecture school at 23, graduated from a 3-year Bachelors with a high GPA at 26 and worked for 2 years in architecture practice. Finally, I started a Masters at 28 and I am now due to graduate in 2 years time.

I am studying at a university in Europe with an interdisciplinary curriculum in architecture, urban planning, building science & construction management. 

The case is I am greatly enjoying my studies (from an academic point of view), since my interest in the built environment is very broad.Therefore, I would like to take extra credits (or do an exchange) and spend another 1.5 year in school (so 3.5-4 years in total) graduating at 32.

There is not a financial issue, but I understand that at this age most people are already licensed and in a PA position, so I am worried about facing age discrimination when looking for a graduate job.

What's your take on this? Have you seen mature students making a smooth transition into practice? Have you evidenced age discrimination taking place? Realistically, would staying longer at graduate school look bad? Or shall I graduate as soon as possible and get back in the industry? (I intend to practice in Europe and my degree grants me professional rights here).

Thank you for your time. 

Oct 17, 20 7:45 am

This has been covered approximately 14 thousand times on these boards but it's Saturday morning so I'll indulge.

No. You're not too old at all. 

I graduated at 31 and was not unique in my graduating class. Those of us with more life experience not only did better in school, but we've risen to leadership positions a lot quicker than our younger colleagues. With military experience, it's reasonable that you could expect the same. 

Financially you may lose out on the short term by being in school for so long, but you'll likely make that up quickly enough, and there's nothing you can really do about that now anyway. 

Oct 17, 20 10:44 am  · 
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Thanks for your answer. 

My expectation was that employers would prefer to see a perfect resume with no delays in schooling. I was of the idea that being older is sort of a disadvantage given how tough the profession is. I also think some people at school were surprised or looked down on me due to my age. I was also of the view that older graduates have to work significantly harder than the rest in order to set themselves apart.

What I could do is finish in exactly 2 years, as opposed to delaying an extra 1.5 year on top of the 2 and I just wondered if that would help even marginally. 

I was also generally curious what view employers have of older graduates. When interviewing as a graduate were you asked questions regarding your age? Did you also think that any of your applications might have been dismissed due to this?


in the US employers are prohibited from asking about age. obviously they might make a guess by looking at your history, but your work history of a different industry followed by military service is a good explanation which no one would worry about. if you are comfortable with the expectations and limited salaries of an entry level job, employers would be happy to consider you. you might find the diversity of experience helps you move up the ladder in your firm a bit faster too.


in the EU people put their birthday on the CV haha...and a photo


I would not worry at all about this. In my experience working with people who have more life experience, as previously posted is apparent most are at a higher level of maturity which are transferable skills for leadership ops. I have interviewed people with diverse academic, military and life skills and levels and not once has anyone neg’d someone for taking more time or seen it as a con. 

So take your time and do what feels right. You seem like a real one! 

Oct 17, 20 11:57 am  · 
1  · 

no, in fact finding a candidate who had a sincere interest in something that resulted in taking extra credits in grad school would be a huge positive. candidates with irregular career paths often have uncommon strengths.

no one actually respects candidates who "stick to the formula" of completing degrees and internships as if they're mileposts in a race. explaining your process as you did above would open up an interesting discussion in an interview that would distinguish you from typical candidates.

Oct 17, 20 7:52 pm  · 
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Exactly. I actually hire people and somebody like the OP would stand out in a positive way due to their experience (personally and professionally).


I agree, the op would be a candidate we would rate highly. I see a lot of people trucking through school and AXP these days who don't seem to be really acquiring or retaining much knowledge.


taking on extra credit or an exchange abroad is not a “delay“ at shouldn’t want to work for an employer who doesn’t value those! I graduated at 30, as I worked after my bachelors, traveled the world and back at university did some more travelling and internship abroad before finishing my masters. Can highly recommend taking detours and following your own interests. I now can combine all those experiences, interests and detours in my work, it is what gets me hired...

Oct 18, 20 4:22 pm  · 
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atelier nobody

I was 29 when I got started in architecture, after entering but not completing a 2-year architectural technology program, with no Masters, no military service, and a CV that read like a Pynchon novel. I'm 53 now, and have had a decent career so far. It's possible I'm a little behind where I would have been if I'd had the self-awareness to go straight into architecture school after high school, but so what? I'm comfortable.

Oct 19, 20 2:03 pm  · 
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