It's Never Too Late to Earn a Master's Degree in Business

woman getting online degree

Prepare for what might be the ultimate "you're never too old to learn" story: Jim Schmitz, a 62-year-old medical doctor sold his house, gave his dog and car away, and went to London to earn a master's degree in business. His motivation: understanding changes in the health care system and learning the analysis and problem-solving skills he needed to adapt to the shifts.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that there are more students the doctor's age these days. Although comprehensive national data are hard to come by, Ashford University's 2015 enrollment data bears out the anecdotes and predictions.

At the graduate level, which includes students pursuing master's degrees in the Forbes School of Business®, nearly 42 percent of Ashford students are aged 40 or older, and 15 percent are over 50-years-old. In fact, there are more older students who are pursuing graduate degrees than there are 22- to 29-year-olds enrolled.

Older graduate students increasingly look online

According to the Council of Graduate Schools, 33 is the national average age of graduate students. We think that many older students are attracted to Ashford because our flexible online program appeals to those who are juggling work and family obligations in addition to school. Increasingly, graduate students of all ages are showing a tendency to shun traditional brick-and-mortar schools and their rigid scheduling in favor of formats that work better for them, according to the council.

The rise in average age could be partly because students become burned out after completing their four-year undergraduate degrees, if that term can even be applied anymore. Forbes writes that only 39 percent of full-time students complete their bachelor's in four years.

Another reason for the age shift: Professionals find themselves pondering better opportunities after a few years on the job and realize they need additional credentials and training in order to move on. Earning a business degree, with its emphasis on critical thinking and deeper understanding, is one way to jump-start a stalled career.

Ashford success stories


It worked for Shelly Mathewis, who earned her master's in organizational management from Ashford's Forbes School of Business® at age 44. "I knew there were some opportunities that I wanted to seek, and although I had the professional experience, I wanted to have that education behind it," she said.

Other older students return to the classroom after devoting years to their families and setting aside their own aspirations. That was the case with Antonella Scarsella. She'd given up pursuing her accounting degree when children came along, and she found herself professionally stymied as a result. "I passed the interview with flying colors until I was questioned about my educational background. I was turned down because I did not have a degree," she recalled.

She turned the rejection into inspiration, vowing to complete her degree and earn the next promotion. Ashford's convenient access allowed her to finish her bachelor's degree and an MBA as well.

It's not always easy going back to school at any age, but with organization, planning, and determination it's easier now than ever with online colleges such as Ashford University. For seasoned professionals such as Schmitz, Mathewis, and Scarsella, devoting the time to earn their master's degrees turned out to be savvy business and personal moves.



Written by Ashford University staff.




The Typical College Student Is Not A 'Typical' College Student (And Other Fun College Demographics Data). Forbes. Retrieved from

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