Go for a Master’s Degree at 53? Most Liked Hot Conversation

I have been forced to close my company under very stressful and financially crushing circumstances. I don’t have it in me, nor do I want to, start anything like that again. I, however, have gotten excited over the notion of going into counseling and would need to obtain a master’s in psychology (which I would do online.) I look forward to learning again and actually helping people…Is it too late? Is there a future in this field?

Posted in work & money.

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25 Responses


    It’s NEVER too late for an education!  Many, many people over 50 are continuing their educations in Utah.  The problem?  If you can’t find a some kind of funding that you don’t have to pay back, will it be worth it to get a masters?  In Utah, it seems that you have to have a batchelor’s degree just to get an interview.  A master’s degree helps you get the second interview.  I know that 53 is not too late to get that masters, but try to decide up front how long you want to work.  Are you going to spend 2 more years in school, only to work for 5 more years?  If you are planning on working until you are 70 – go for it!!!

    1 like

    • Generic Image 55 + and overwhelmed says

      I agree with others that an online education is a a great way to develop skills and get back into learning. I will caution individuals wishing to counsel or become therapists. Each state requires guidelines for licensing. My state requires you Masters include on an on campus course load. So be careful check with your state and their licensing requirements.

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  2. CheriRae CheriRae says

    Hi dacesa22,

    I remember years ago reading a letter written to Dear Abby.  The woman was of a certain age, wanted to go to school but lamented the fact of how long it would take to obtain the degree (4 years) and how old she would then be.  Abby’s response was something like, “Hmmmmm, well how old will you be in four years if you don’t get the degree?”  I thought that was a great response.  

    I am a clinical social worker and have worked in mental health and geriatrics for 30 years.  It is not a well paying field but it is a very rewarding one.  I would recommend that you research a masters in social work vs a masters in psychology as I think the S.W. masters offers you more practice and billing options.  With my degree, I can diagnose, bill insurance and medicare.  I don’t think a masters in psychology can bill medicare for persons residing in long term care facilities.  I have several friends with complimentary masters’ who lament they did not pursue the social work degree.  

    I am 62 and would really like to return to school.  The academic environment can be so stimulating and – who knows – may show you options you had not imagined.  I wish you the best in your endeavors.  

    4 like

    • lgarrity12 lgarrity12 says

      OMG I read that same letter to Dear Abby!!!  It has stuck with me for decades.  I went back to school at 51 to finally finish an Associates Degree that I started in 1969.  Now at 58, I’m considering going back for my Bachelors.  I don’t need it for work, but I miss learning.  I say GO FOR IT!!!  IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!

      3 like

      • Generic Image carolyne49 says

        I turned 60 this year and have returned to online college to complete my bachelors degree in Public Relations and Marketing. It’s never too late for learning. I plan to work the rest of my life. Working nad being involved keeps us young!

        5 like

  3. Generic Image mkpelland says

    when I was forty and lamenting about not having become a lawyer, my dad told me to go do it. I said I’d be too old to practise when I finished school. Dad said – “Well, how old will you be when you get your degree?” I calculated upper 40s. “Then,” said he (and I had no idea Dear Abby would later quote him…) “how old will you be in 6 or 7 years if you don’t go to school?”

    I didn’t follow his wisdom. Didn’t become a lawyer and I wish I had – it’s something I would likely have been great at. Whether you use the degree in business or you don’t, MY sage advice would be this: If you will enjoy the journey, take that first step.”


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  4. Generic Image Sharena says

    Are you dead yet?  Then there is time for school.  I am 54 and just started my Doctorate. I received an associates degree in 1986.  Went back to school in 2003 and have just kept on going! All of this has been in on-line classes.  I did my bachelors through the University of Phoenix, my masters through the College of St. Scholastica and now my doctorate back at the University of Phoenix. I work full time and teach an on-line class for the University of Alaska.  I love being a student and learning something new all the time.  The University of Phoenix even taught me how to learn again because I had been out of school so long.  Don’t be afraid girl, go for it!

    3 like

  5. cnyt cnyt says

    I went back to USF at 53. Got my degree and I will say studying, memorizing & taking tests was not easy but a Hell of alot fullfilling when done. I am now over 60 & have never regretted finally completing my degree. GO FOR IT!!!!

    3 like

  6. emptysee emptysee says

    What a coincidence! I was “downsized” a few years ago, and this past summer, at 52, decided to go back and get my Masters in Communication. I’m doing great; it’s lots of fun! Trust me! We “non-traditional” students have several legs up on the younger ones! Most of what they need to learn for the first time, we LIVED!

    4 like

  7. drkisane drkisane says

    Hi Dacesa22

    As everyoe else has said ‘it’s NEVER too late’! I didn’t go to university (here in Australia) until my fourth child was in pre-school & I was in my early thirties. I then continued on with my studies through to PhD (which took me ages to complete!) which I got in 2001, when I was 60 years old.

    I’ve just retired from full-time work as a Senior Lecturer in the Social Work Department at a university here in Perth where I lectured primarily to Counselling Masters students.  Many of my students were in their 40s & even 50s. 

    I think Cherirae gave you very good advice when she suggested that you do Social Work rather than Psychology.  There will be so many jobs for social workers in the coming years & you may find that psychology isn’t quite what you thought it would be!  Also, have you explored Counselling degrees?

    I am now starting my fourth career & if I can do that at 67, then you can certainly get started on a new career path at a mere 53 years :)

    I wish you all the very best


    5 like

    • CheriRae CheriRae says

      Hi Kisane,

      You’ve made me curious.  Would you like to share what path you’ve chosen for career #4?  I cherish my friends and acquaintances who – past 50, past 60 and even in their 90′s, continue to identify their goals and reach for their stars.  From their examples I am energized and motivated to continue setting new goals and seeking new experiences.

      1 like

      • drkisane drkisane says

        Hi Cherirae

        Apologies for not getting back to you before now.  I’ve been flat out writing my second Squidoo Lens, which is a component of my 4th career!

        I have already written one Squidoo Lens (just a funny name for a website!) and I think if I send you these two websites it will very clearly explain to you my 4th career in Attraction Marketing.

        I just have to write a little more before I upload Squidoo Lens 2 and then I’ll come back here and send the two links through to you :)

        So have you decided which program you are going to study?

        I’d love to keep up-to-date with your progress :)


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      • drkisane drkisane says

        Hi again Cherirae

        I’ve just realised that you are the clinical social worker not Dacesa22!

        From reading your response again I suspect we have quite a bit in common!



        0 like

      • drkisane drkisane says

        Hi Cherirae

        I’ve sent you the links to my two Squidoo Lenses in a tweet, just in case you don’t see this post :)



        0 like

  8. malarkey malarkey says

    It’s definitely not too late. I got a Masters at the age of 50 and changed my career. The one thing I would encourage you do if you can is try to get some real classroom instruction (rather than online) because the interaction with other students and the professors is a real confidence booster, and very beneficial.

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  9. Generic Image Italiana says

    Gosh, I would love to be like everyone else and just say go for it, but there are practical considerations here. If you can afford graduate school tuition, that helps a lot.

    Secondly, as a former masters-level mental health counselor, I would urge you to think long and hard about that particular career choice. It typically does NOT pay well, so if that’s a big concern, please be aware. Secondly, it is an arduous profession, with many practitioners suffering burnout and secondary PTSD from being to exposed people’s problems all day long. I mention this especially because you have recently endured “stressful and financially crushing” circumstances. I would encourage you to talk to people in the field first and maybe see a counselor yourself before making this leap. God bless.

    0 like

    • Generic Image kanmko says

      These are good points that you are making about PTDS and the costs involved.

      There are also scholarships (somewhere) available for Masters level education that you can seek out. Ask the institution if they have scholarships available, and see what information they can give you.

      The more that you know and find out, the better for you before you make that expensive commitment.

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  10. Generic Image Nancy7 says

    Dear dacesa22,

    I returned to college to earn my undergraduate degree that I abandoned 30 years earlier to take care of my family.  I quit my job 2 days before the college graduation of my youngest child.  After 25 years of tuition for grade school, high school and college for 3 children my husband thought we would finally be able to start paying off some of those college loans and debts!  Guess again dear…now it’s my turn!  We have learned to live on one income and it has been both rewarding and a great inspiration to my family and friends.  I don’t dare give up on my dream because I preached to my children that leaving college without a degree was one of my biggest regrets.  It has been a challenge being a full time student (etch-a-sketch brain)trying to keep up with a 16 hour course load but I am holding my own.  Being in class with the younger students is both stimulating and eye opening.  I highly recommend it.  I don’t know that I will get a “better” job because I have a college degree, but I do know that I will feel better about myself for having completed a task I started 36 years ago and my future employer should be able to see that tenacity is one of my strengths.

    2 like

  11. daccarte daccarte says

    I started my MBA degree at age 49, took 2 courses every semester for 3 years straight while working full-time as an IT manager.  Back then, I chose to do a traditional evening program.  Despite the lack of sleep, I finished first in my class.  I loved every minute of the experience…and I never looked at the world or myself in the same way.

    I’m now able to take risks and tackle challenges head-on (with no fear or doubt).  At the time we had 3 children in college so I was able to get subsidized aid.  I consider it one of the best investments I ever made.

    So, to you, I’d say it’s never too late.  Find the work you’re passionate about and do it!


    3 like

    • Sandwiched Boomers Sandwiched Boomers says

      I think you need to consider both issues raised in these posts. I, too went back to school for a Ph.D. after having my family and working for several years. It’s never too late to follow your passion and there are so many benefits – stimulation, challenge, new friends, opportunity. But it’s also necessary to research which profession is most viable, especially in this economic climate. There are so many options in the helping field – social work, psychology, counseling, coaching – and getting information and feedback will help you decide which way is best for you. Good luck!

      0 like

  12. Generic Image kanmko says

    Go for it! That’s my first response, because I gave it to myself.

    My second response is, be aware of how the recruiter will pay much attention to you to get you commited and signed up. It’s a competitive market, and for some of us, it means taking out loans at a later time in life and paying them ($20, $30, $40,000+) back, as well. If you are able, go for it. Just make sure you ask questions to know what the degree requirements are, accreditation with the college, how the classroom works, if your computer meets tech requirements. Some give 1 week free trial courses, take em up on that to get the experience. Make sure you get the catalogue and read it to know your rights about dropping and adding classes and deadlines. You will probably have a good experience. Stay on their good side, so you can have access to the administration if something comes up. Otherwise you may find them to be invisible. They will love that you want to give them your money, and in most instances, a way will be made for you.

    The thing in your favor is focus and experience and doing something that you really want to do. All the best.

    0 like

  13. jancullinane jancullinane says

    Congrats on honing in on what you really want.  Some great responses/advice below.  My sister was an attorney for many years, and recently earned a Master’s degree in counseling (she is 58), echoing the thought that you’re never too old.  A few caveats - be sure the program is accredited – if you want to get into counseling, you may want to become a licensed therapist rather than getting a Master’s degree in psychology. Be sure to talk to a counselor at your local university to help you clarify the degree you need to pursue what you want to do. And, keep in mind that many employers still view online degrees as “diploma mills” – if you go the online route, be sure to look into their placement, and talk to graduates of their programs. To be a therapist involves supervised professional practice hours, so be sure to check out this angle as well if you are hoping to get a degree online. As stated elsewhere, until you have your own practice (which will take a few years after graduating) the pay is fairly low.  But, demand for this profession (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is good.  Good luck to you!

    1 like

  14. Generic Image carolyne49 says

    Not at all! I just turned 60 and I am completeing a bachelors in PR and Marketing. Remember, 50 is the new 40.

    0 like

  15. Seawriter Seawriter says

    Hi Dacesa22,

    It’s not too late! I am just completing the first of a three-year MA program at 60. One of the delights of being on campus physically is learning that I’m not the oldest student in my program, that there are many individuals returning to school to change careers in midlife, and I’m meeting wonderful people. If an online program works for you, then do it. My thinking? I’ll probably want to work for a long time as a counselor because it interests me so much. I see the time and money I’m spending on this degree as an investment that will pay off for the rest of my life. I say go for it!

    0 like

  16. Generic Image kanmko says

    I’m a NOW traditional, like a large percentage of students these days. We are making the tradition of education to be what it is NOW. We are challenging the status quo and expanding the experience of community colleges, as well as universities in our communities.

    I am attending a community college after spending time in an abusive relationship. My first class was a challenge to myself to see if I could even take a class. Would I be able to do the homework. Right now, 2 1/2 semesters later, I am the station manager for the college’s online radio station, and still having fun.

    We each have our own opportunities and support systems. I’m having fun, not just for the sake of having fun, — and I’m making a difference at my school. We NOW traditionals have a lot to offer to the college experience, too. Take it one step at a time, encourage yourself, every step of the way. The advice that these ladies are giving you is on target. Be ready to look at yourself and be honest with yourself, and be encouraged. You can influence others, – but you can really change yourself.

    1 like

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