76-Year-Old Man Earns Doctorate 53 Years After Starting Course

Dr Nick Axten in the early 1970s and on the day of his graduation

Learning is a lifelong process and it’s never too late to achieve whatever you wish in life. However, a man took a little too long to complete his PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). While a majority of PhD programs are designed to be finished in five or six years, a 76-year-old student who enrolled for PhD in 1970 completed it after 50 years, BBC reported.  

As per the report, Dr Nick Axten received a Fulbright scholarship for a PhD in mathematical sociology in 1970 at the University of Pittsburgh. However, he returned to the UK after 5 years with an unfinished PhD.  

Dr. Axten revived his studies in 2016, studying an MA in Philosophy at the University of Bristol when he was aged 69. He then studied for a PhD in Philosophy at the same university, finishing in 2022, aged 75. 

On February 14, 2023, the University of Bristol conferred him with a Doctor of Philosophy in front of his wife Claire Axten, and 11-year-old granddaughter Freya.  

Dr Axten’s research is a new theory for understanding human behavior based on the values each person holds, the University of Bristol said in a press statement, adding that it has the potential to change our view of behavioral psychology. 

Mr. Axten said his research had been “exceptionally difficult”. “What I was trying to do in the early 70s was exceptionally difficult. Some problems are so great it takes the best part of a lifetime to get your head around them. They need a long hard think. This one has taken me 50 years,” he said. 

His supervisor at the University of Bristol, Professor Samir Okasha said, “Nick was an incredibly enthusiastic, energetic and committed student during his time here. It’s fantastic to see him graduate half a century after he started his original PhD.” 

He lives in Wells, Somerset, with his wife and is a father of two children and four grandchildren.

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