View Full Version : Is 42 Too Old To Get My Masters?

01-27-2007, 12:24 AM
I am 42 and applying to Graduate school to get my MFA. But I am starting to wonder if I am too damn old for school. I hope I wont feel out of place with all the 23 year olds.....
My hope is to make a carree change mid life and teach

01-27-2007, 09:59 AM
One is never too old to go back to school and get your Masters. It is common nowadays for people to make a career change and college campuses are full of "older" people. In fact, it is much more interesting to go back to school a more seasoned person because you are usually (hopefully) past all the social clap trap that comes with college life, know yourself and now can reallly focus on your work and reach your goals.
I personally would love to go back and get my Masters in Fine Arts and hopefully one day I will get the opportunity. Truly I could care less how old I am when I do. An Art degree is also much more different than say, a Marketing degree. It's more laid back and respectable to be older in the art world (unlike Marketing)..! Another good thing that comes with age is just not giving a hoot about real or imagined social inequities anymore, there are more important things to focus on in life such as Art and sharing your wisdom to those who will benefit.
Good luck to you!:heart:

01-27-2007, 05:51 PM
Nami: I guess you are right, you are never too old. As long as I am not older than the professors I will feel fine :rolleyes:
Lets just hope they accept me. I stared a thread below this one about this, but no responces yet. My real problem is that my Bachelors is not in Art but Business, but my Associates is in Art, I dont know if they hold this against an applicant. although I would think its a plus to have well rounded applicants

01-27-2007, 05:53 PM
Joko, in four years how old will you be without your masters? ;) Go for it!

01-27-2007, 06:01 PM
Joko, in four years how old will you be without your masters? ;) Go for it!
LOL you ar correct. Actually I hope to be done in 2 years with the Masters. I had to stop my pursuit of Art in my late 20s to pursure other things like making money. Now at 42 I finally realized that I am like a rat running around in a wheel chasing money. I can spend my whole life doing that, and its not like I am getting rich or anything lol. If I dont do this now I will never do it.

01-27-2007, 10:45 PM
Nami: I guess you are right, you are never too old. As long as I am not older than the professors I will feel fine :rolleyes:
Lets just hope they accept me. I stared a thread below this one about this, but no responces yet. My real problem is that my Bachelors is not in Art but Business, but my Associates is in Art, I dont know if they hold this against an applicant. although I would think its a plus to have well rounded applicants

When I was at art school at both Art Institute and Cornish most of the teachers were 40+. Also thinking about it there were a lot of "older" students but since it is art school it seems normal and I never thought about it. They were definitely cool to hang out with, and hanging out with the teachers was always a bonus! ;) I truly think art school is so different than a normal college. Most artists are just very different people in general which is why art school is so great. It blew my mind to be surrounded by so many "intelligent" people for once.
I think with your Masters - they will look at your merits in art, portfolio and so forth and the Associates degree in Art will help, but as long as you show you are an active artist with a solid body of work and with clear goals that is what they look at in accepting you for the Masters of Fine Arts program. Good luck! :thumbsup:

Alex Sunder
01-29-2007, 05:42 PM
Hi Joko!

Nope. You are not too old for that.

Im 33 years old, i recently started on the university. I still have 4 years to graduate myself on Fine Arts. That means im gonna get my master degree when im about your age.

I live in São Paulo, Brazil, and in a nice university with a tradition of 80 years. I do go along very well with all the other students and i was able to help a lot of young students who do not draw or paint like me. Nope, im not a master, as a matter of fact im really far from that, still, they see in ANYBODY who can draw a little bit someone who can help them out.

The majority of the students are like 20 years old. Im loving it every minute of it, and i DO encourage you to do the same.

My wife is doing as well, shes 31. Theres another student older than me in my class, shes 41, and shes STARTING the Fine Art degree RIGHT NOW, and she CANT draw at all...

Pretty common to find older students in every university right now.

Its NEVER too late for ANYTHING.

Break a leg!

01-29-2007, 11:12 PM
Thans for the words of encouragement Alex, I appreciate it! My only concern now is to earn a living and suport a family while I do this

Alex Sunder
01-30-2007, 06:59 AM

Theres always a solution. If you really wants to get this degree, im sure you will manage some way. I have three kids. Its not easy. I opened a very small, humble and modest art school.

I do know many people who opened up their art schools on their garage. And people with ALL skills levels. My school, like for instance, we didnt have any money to buy new chairs and some cool tables... we only had TWO easels. I opened up anyway. Me and my wife we talked a lot about that, and we agreed that if we would wait to get all the money it takes to open a fine school, we would open that only when we graduate. So, my school is made with different chairs, improvised tables, and all kind of weird stuff you wouldnt believe it... BUT, its running.

You can also consider the possibility to do portraits or landscapes as commissions, or you could even find a art gallery or a studio who could pay you to work on.

Me and my family, well, we do not have all the comfort that a regular job in a company could bring to us. The income of the school is not too much... but we do have a scholarship who help us out. Im sure theres a lot of different scholarships on the universities near you. This could help you out.

I really think you should consider to get this degree cause theres too many ways to get your foot on the university and to keep your bills payed.

Joko, to study Art is something that will bring you MUCH more than money, i do think money is something so SMALL compared to the JOY and satisfaction you will have if you get your degree, and this joy will also be transmitted to your kids and family.

Whats the point in having a great payed job with all the comfort and a big mansion but being a sad person, not fulfilled? I see a LOT of people like that around me.

We NEED more artists in this world. We NEED more graduations on Art on this world. And you should be one!

If you need anything, drop me some lines!

01-30-2007, 10:36 AM
Alex, it's nice to see another slightly older student. I'm 32 and it has been a little hard. Mostly because I'm in a school that doesn't have much of an art program. But I'll be getting my Associates degree and then (hopefully) I'll be able to move to a college with a better art plan.
Joko, I would also like to echo Alex and advise you to apply for finacial aid. You'd be surprised. I didn't think I had a chance at aid, but I was accepted. Every little bit helps. Good luck to you.

Alex Sunder
01-30-2007, 03:32 PM
Thanx Koi.

Nobody should be ashamed of being a old person in the university, but NOT go to university for being old, thats something to be ashamed of!

01-31-2007, 12:26 AM
wow, those are very encouraging words! Thanks. I am jsut worried about paying bills etc. I live in NYC, the rents are very high, and then there car payments etc..........I just started to sell real estate, I am hoping that works out becaus eI can sort of do that at my own hours and it would work great with school

02-01-2007, 01:56 PM
One thing I always tell my students is that one is never too old to get an education. When I went back to grad school in '98, I was 44 years old, had been teaching studio classes in my studio for 8 years and wanted to get my MFA in order to teach at a college or university and get a regular pay check.

At grad school, I encountered a student who was definitely a "non-traditional age student". She had originally began atteneding the university in the 1940s but dropped out to marry and raise a family. She would have originally been in the class of 1951. She returned after all her children were grown and her husband had passed away; finishing her Bachelor's degree in 2001, fifty years later, at the age of 72.

But she didn't stop there. She then decided to continue to grad school and recently graduated with her master's and the spry young age of 77.

Go for it!

02-05-2007, 12:59 PM
In the post, 'How to study art at fifty' I replied about going back to school at fifty-plus. I think the key question is why do you want a masters in fine art? Do you want to teach at the college level? Depending on your economic situation, you may or may not be able to take a 'full' load of classes. If you have to work, the degree might take several years to achieve. If you can go full time, then you might get the degree in a couple or years or so. What do you expect your goals/situation will be then?

All things being equal, I'd go for it. There's a great sense of achievement regardless what you do with the degree. Of course, that says nothing of the vast advances you'll make in your development as an artist.

Believe me, those 23 year olds won't always know what to make of you. The only problem I had with them is their choice in music is definitely not mine.

02-18-2007, 10:14 PM
You are not too old at all-remember that age is just a number! If you constantly point out your age to other students then you will be treated as such. I didn't talk about my age and the younger students treated just fine. Enjoy the courses and the work, it will pay off! Congratulations!


02-20-2007, 11:10 PM
I am a 47 year old - recently back in college to become an art teacher! I LOVE being with the other students and they treat me as a peer. I will truly miss them when I leave for student teaching in the fall, but am certain to keep in touch with a few. I usually don't let my age play a factor, however I notice that I am MUCH more concientious (it must come with all my life experience)

I am wondering if you really are able to teach with the masters? I have a previous degree in Apparel/Textile Design with an art minor, and was told that I need the teaching degree FIRST, and then I can get a masters, at least for teaching art. Perhaps it is different in your state. I'm in Minnesota. I am getting art teaching as a second degree, as a post Grad, so I pay undergrad credits.

Good luck to you - I have no regrets and I feel truly blessed to be doing this now. It almost feels like a guilty pleasure!!! :thumbsup:

02-21-2007, 11:53 AM
I am wondering if you really are able to teach with the masters? I have a previous degree in Apparel/Textile Design with an art minor, and was told that I need the teaching degree FIRST, and then I can get a masters, at least for teaching art. Perhaps it is different in your state. I'm in Minnesota. I am getting art teaching as a second degree, as a post Grad, so I pay undergrad credits.

Speaking only of the USA...
There is a big difference in requirements for teaching at the 1-12 grade level in public schools and teaching in a college/university. The former generally requires the "teacher certification" and the latter usually requires an MFA, or MA in one of the arts. I've known of university adjuncts who had NO degree, but rather a sound reputation nationally/internationally. In fact I know of one who has only a BFA and is internationally recognized who went on to become a tenured professor. It's rare to gain tenure without the MFA in studio arts, or a PhD in art history.


03-04-2007, 08:59 PM
Had to laugh a little because I am 51 and am going back to school to get both my BFA and MFA. If you are old, I am ancient. There are many adults going back to school now. I feel I am much more confident and better equipped now than I ever was in my 20's. I can't wait to get started. Best of luck to you!


03-07-2007, 04:26 PM
I'm so glad to be reading this thread! We need artists, and we particularly need older artists!!! I have a bachelor's and master's in another profession, but am now pursuing a BA in painting at the age of 44! Hurrah! It is a challenge to financially make it work as I am on my own, and for a second bachelor's I'm not eligible for scholarships or grants, but I'm so glad I'm doing this! I find in classes that I have a lot to offer and it is appreciated by the younger students (at least as far as I can tell:lol: ) - seriously I'm not shy about asking the questions that maybe aren't so "cool" to ask - and great class conversations get started all the time because of it. I'm far less inhibited at this age -- I don't have the time to be!

Anyway, I'm very happy to read of older students pursuing degrees. I see us as pioneers in good company.

Geena in Providence, RI

03-09-2007, 07:19 PM
You are absolutely not too old to get your MFA. I work in the School of Visual Arts at Penn State (although right now I'm on maternity leave), and have seen many, many portfolios come through the department for application to the MFA program in all areas. There is a huge range in ages, from students who have recently completed their BA or BFA degrees, to students who have been professional architects for 20 years and have returned to obtain the MFA in Art. As a student currently working on my doctorate (in physiology - I'm just the graduate admissions staff assistant in art), I can tell you that the atmostphere is also greatly different between undergraduate and graduate school. I have two children and a husband, work full time, and pursue a degree. The professors expect most of your work to be self-directed, although they are there to guide you. They will expect your basic skill set to be quite good, and will encourage you to stretch your boundaries. I strongly suggest going to meet the graduate faculty at the university to which you are applying, particularly in your area of interest (drawing and painting, sculpture, new media, etc.). I also suggest meeting with the director of the graduate program, the head of the department, and at least two professors in your area of interest. Good luck.

03-10-2007, 05:48 PM
I'm 25 and I already teach 16 to 19 years age range. Its a fantastic and rewarding profession. When I was training to teach the age range on the course was 21 to 47. Its never too late to start teaching! I dont have my masters, however I have been giving it serious thought as it can be done while working. Kudos to you.

03-13-2007, 01:03 AM
Hi Joko. I'm 36 and I plan on going to school as long as I can. Professional Student - LOL. I also made a big change from computer guru to something I love - art. Going back to school was the best thing I ever did. I'm sure that if you choose the right school and you feel comfortable there the moment you walk in before applying, that you will do just fine and those 23 yr olds will look up to you (heck, they think I'm an English Professor -- darn work-study job). 42 is never "too old" to do what is in your heart. Hey, Ocie Tune King graduated from West Virginia University at a young 94! Ruth J Lynch received her BA in Art History at a young age of 78 from Sonoma State University! Eva Levi was a 72 year young Liberal Studies major... etc etc etc.

03-13-2007, 01:41 PM

I really dont want to discourage you from doing something that you truly want, however I would like to provide a bit of balance. The age thing certainly has nothing to do with it btw.

For anyone getting a Masters in art, please make sure its something you do for yourself, not just to get a job. There are thousands of MFAs out there. Landing a job in a unveristy is , imho, is painfully difficult. Very few, VERY FEW, people land a full time job right out of grad school. Very few people land a full time job at all. The reality is that on average, a mid sized regional institution, will recieve 50-100 applicantions for just one "painting" position.

My point is not to discourage, rather to inform you to make an educated decision. You mentioned career change and teaching together. Its never a sure thing. If you feel that YOU need the experience gained from gettig an MFA , then knock yourself out. Try not to pay for it youself if you can. Visit The Chronicle of Higher Education's website to view all the job postings in art. Usually there is 5-6 in any particular field each year. If you still feel that teaching is the road you want to take, prepare yourself for a long, emotional rollercoaster.


03-14-2007, 12:44 PM

A couple of years ago, I read that around 10,000 students receive their MFA each year. That's a lot of people looking for few jobs. I understand that a MFA is equivalent to a Ph.D in another field. That's a lot of schooling for a job slinging burgers.

I'm certified to teach two subjects at the secondary school level, one being art education and I'm labeled a high-quality teacher. First, although our state is pushing art courses a little more than before, usually a high school of, say 1500 students, will have perhaps three art teachers at the most. Second, the dean of education at the university I attended told me that there are very few openings for art teachers because they usually never leave a position.

I've attended regional job fairs for teachers and would see over 500 people, mostly new graduates, seeking one of the relatively few positions open each year. I looked to teaching as a 'second career.' I couldn't claim age discrimination, but I feel that school districts will go with the younger, inexperienced teacher. That way, the district can 'mold' them into the 'system.' Coming from a business career, I found it unpalatable to work in that protected, insular profession...it was difficult to put up with things that one would never accept in a business or professional environment.

Personally, I don't think there is really a shortage of teachers. I think there may be a shortage of people willing to work in those systems.

I have many hours of college credits and believe in continued education. By all means, if you're 'middle aged,' pursue a MFA or BFA particularly if you're doing it to advance your skills and knowledge in art. However, if you're thinking about teaching, I'd look a little closer at the available opportunities for teaching art.