Considering a second career in my 50's. I could use some thoughts and direction

Hello All,

I am a long time lurker on FWF and have used so much advice from that site that I thought I would throw out something I am considering and see if the collective brainpower of this board can point me in the right direction.

My current situation:

I’m 46 years old I have been employed by one of the largest oil companies in the world for over 21 years. I have a BA and an MBA in business. I am very happy working for the company and have enjoyed my time here. However, I think that once I reach my full pension in 8 to 10 years I would like to do something different. What I am looking to do starting in the next few years is start a PhD program in Business to eventually teach in my late 50’s. I am on track to easily retire with my current gig in my mid 50’s but I thought a second career in my late 50’s/60’s would be good for the following reasons:

  1. Intellectually/emotionally fulfilling.
  2. Working hard towards a long-term academic goal would be a good example to my two young boys.
  3. Upon completion it might give me an opportunity to move back to our hometown in the Pacific NW and teach in Washington State.
  4. A bridge for healthcare until I reach the age to draw my full pension with retirement healthcare.

My real question after this background information is: Can anyone give me some guidance on an online Doctorate program in Business? When I search online all I really find are scammy websites and for profit institutions (not interested in this). Does anyone know of a reputable, major university that offers an online doctorate program? I can travel to the school location quarterly if needed to meet Professors etc. Thoughts? Problems with this plan? Thanks!

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You may want to talk to other academics on FWF. I think Magika was a post-doc, From what I can remember, he doesn’t give much worth to any of the online places, especially at graduate level. To actually reaching a teaching position, even at the smaller state school is extremely competitive.

If you do enjoy mentoring young kids, I would consider community college and I think most of them only require Master level education. One of the best teacher I met for coding was a retired Microsoft manager at Bellevue College when I took some course there.

oh, Go DAWGS!


Thank ZenNuts! This has been my experience exactly, it seems like you can get a fairly credible MBA online but there is nothing really out there for a Doctorate level program. I may have to go with teaching at a community college if I can’t find anything. Heaven help the foes of Washington!

In addition to teaching middle school full time, I adjunct at a smaller university with two related Master’s degrees. I would suggest that you decide if your priority is teaching in higher education or getting a doctorate or both. If your only priority is teaching in higher ed and are open to a community college or adjuncting for a smaller university, then you’re probably already qualified. Like all jobs, connections make landing these positions easier, so that is probably the best place to direct your energy. Perhaps host interns, offer to speak at classes in your area of expertise, be on a discussion panel, etc. Just know that even full time community college teaching pays quite low, and piecing together adjunct contracts to make anything substantial is difficult (but it sounds like you’re set financially).

If you really want to get the doctorate, definitely do an on-campus. As a bonus, you’ll often start teaching immediately and gain a lot of experience. You’ll also have the opportunity to make a ton of connections. I love being a student, so if I was financially set, I’d definitely do this just because it sounds like so much fun!

As a former academic, OP, I second overlandsea’s advice.

Good luck on this career change, and I hope you make it back to the PNW with a fulfilling second career. :slight_smile:

Awesome advice Overlandsea! You have really given me a lot to think about. Yes, it’s really not about the pay, it’s really about the enrichment and pocket money for happy hour. I think you hit the nail on the head about the priority being teaching. I’m not super interested in pure research which is what doctorate programs are really about. Thanks again for the feedback!

In some fields, you basically need a PhD to even start working on anything useful. But in something like business, I’m guessing having 20 years of experience in the field plus an MBA would be more useful for teaching some introductory courses.This is the original point of adjunct professors - bring in experienced people with non-academic experience who can provide a different viewpoint to students.

That sounds like exactly what you want (rather than a full tenure-track position, which would be very difficult to get). My suggestion would be to look into local universities that have courses taught by experienced adjuncts (not the cheap labor they get used as sometimes) and contact the professors in charge of courses at those departments. You’ll need to prove your background though, so the suggestions Overlandsea mentioned would be good as well.

I’m not an academic but I’ve spent my fair share of time in college and grad school and have friends who are academics. From what I’ve pieced together:

  • Online programs are generally regarded as less good than in-person programs.

  • Full-time programs are generally regarded higher than part-time/executive programs.

  • Being a professional academic is 99% political and 1% ability to teach. If that academic field is research-based, then split that political share into grant-writing ability.

  • It’s going to be virtually impossible for you to determine what geographic location you get hired at. The likelihood of you getting a job teaching in Washington state is small. The likelihood of you getting a job teaching anywhere is small, and narrowing it to a specific state makes it worse.

  • It’s helpful if you have an extreme left-wing political ideology. You should believe that there are no less than 30 different genders, and gender is a social construct. Universities in the year 2017 are extreme havens for the fringe left-wing. And before they hire you, you will be vetted.

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Much less of a factor for business and STEM fields.


Depends on the school. Bret Weinstein is a biology professor at Evergreen University who is currently in hiding in fear of his life from death threats because he suggested evolution might have a role to play in diversity.

Ah, the old single anecdote to counter my argument. Sorry, TripleB, I love you, but that won’t cut it here on FragileDeal.


Well, Evergreen is a known socialist / commie school.

btw. the professor ended up leaving with a $500k payout and the students got punished.

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[quote=“BostonOne, post:11, topic:1503”]
Ah, the old single anecdote to counter my argument. Sorry, TripleB, I love you, but that won’t cut it here on FragileDeal.[/quote]

+1. Whether ideology is even a factor at all depends entirely on the university, department, etc.

And in some professional departments in particular, left-wing slant is a hindrance, not a help.

OP - I have 2 engineering degrees and a MBA, and have worked in corporate America for 30 years. One day I woke up and decided to ditch it all. I went back to school for a doctorate in Physical Therapy and got it at 57 y-o. I am currently working as a PT, at about half my previous salary. But I am having an absolute ball. I don’t really need to work, and may be that makes the job more fun (no stress).

Another advantage is that a PT degree gives you very detailed knowledge of the muscles of your body. I love to work out, run, swim, etc, and have put that info to good use. I also see a good number of older patients in my job, and they are a constant reminder of what we could become if we do not take care of ourselves when we are younger.

Lastly, there is a shortage of PTs currently in most geographic areas. I don’t see any problem working full-time for another 3-4 years, then slowing down to part-time or PRN (on demand) after that.


I have a PhD in business from a top school and used to be a tenure track professor in a highly ranked institutions.

I would advise against a PhD from an online institution at all if your sole purpose is to eventually become an academic. I have not seen someone with a degree from an online institution (yet) get a decent teaching job.

However, as others have mentioned, you don’t necessarily need a PhD to teach at an institution of higher education, especially in business. At the different business schools I have taught at, we had many adjuncts that had an MBA but a lot of business experience, they tended to be the star teachers.

If I were you, what you need is an opportunity to teach once. Once you do it, and if you do it well, you will have business schools begging you to teach based on your teaching evaluations. Look at the business schools in you area, see what classes they have, review them, maybe take some of the open classes available online. Some post open job openings for adjuncts, tell them what you want to teach. Also, don’t be shy of contacting faculty directly telling them your experience and interest. You will be surprised by the response.

As an example, now a good friend, offered his services for free and taught for free for a few years, after that he started getting paid elsewhere.


Excellent advice Moosy. Thanks for sharing your experiences. The adjunct route really seems like the way to go after retiring from my current gig. I probably need to start exploring this now. Thanks again!

i too enjoy teaching but not in the traditional sense. i have blogs, youtube, twitter … the web is my platform to the world. i have complete control over my content and it’s available to everyone for the best price in town (free!).

actually teaching at a university, too much work if you ask me. you need a phd or equivalent and then have to climb that system. and if it’s just to teach corporate accounting or something, too restrictive if you ask me.

the lives i’ve touched, the knowedge i’ve created, it’s priceless. and all it took was an ipad and a few free online resources.

the one thing i took from b-school before dropping out: “freely you received, so freely give”