I am currently pursuing a Bachelor+Master program in mathematics and physics. While the material is very interesting, I feel it sometimes is lacking in the mathematical rigour necessary for Phd studies in mathematics.

A while ago, I discovered the one-year Master program (part III of the tripos) in mathematics at Cambridge University, and it seemed to feature a lot of highly interesting material. I think it would be a nice complement to my current program, and I am very interested in taking the course.

My only concern is, that at the time of graduating from my current program, I will be 26 years old. Would this be much too old for taking the part III course, and also, would I, upon (hopefully) completing the course, be too old for pursuing a Phd at a good university?


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    $\begingroup$ No. 27 is not too late to start a PhD, and not much older than 26 if you skipped the Masters program anyway. Many people have made a contribution to mathematics after late starts. Besides, you are not wasting that year. During that one year masters you are still learning standard material, which is what you do when you start a PhD. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your reply. But would you say it's very late to start part III of the tripos at 26? Since the BA program is 3 years in UK and since most students begin their undergraduate studies at the age of 18, I guess most students who take the part III are 21. Do you happen to know if there are any "older" students taking the part III? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, when I took Part III, most of the students were 21--22, but certainly a nonzero number were older, some 30+. As long as you're prepared for the course, age shouldn't be a factor. $\endgroup$
    – user64687
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AsalBeagDubh Thank you for your comment! How old would you say that some of the older students were? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ @GitGud As a student there, your assertion is correct. While our first two terms aren't too stressful, the exam terms are probably best described as hell. And thanks Zhen Lin, I guess I now know what to aim for in my third year (for those curious, the top 40% corresponds to the top quarter of $2.1$'s and higher). $\endgroup$
    – Andrew D
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


Personally, I would suggest emailing the relevant part of the University's Faculty of Mathematics, where you can find contact information on the bottom of the this page: http://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/postgrad/mathiii/.

I don't know how much you know about how the University of Cambridge operates, but if you were to apply for the one-year Masters, you would also need to look at the different colleges at Cambridge (there's more information available here: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/gradadmissions/prospec/studying/colleges/index.html). The University also has open days (both generally and faculty specific) throughout the year, so it may be worth having a look to see when they are.

On a more personal note, I doubt your age would be a barrier to getting onto the Part III course, provided there is a satisfactory explanation as to why - my expeirence with the Faculty members (I'm an undergraduate studying Maths at Cambridge) is that they only really care for a person's mathematical ability.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your reply and for the links that you provided! The 'excuse' for my high age is mainly that I was initially very uncertain about what I wanted to study, and it took me some time to settle with my current program. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ I can't see your reason for your high age being a hinderence then. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew D
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 12:36

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