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Inspiring Graduate: 91-Year-Old French Woman Earns PhD!

If you think that you are too old to finish school or earn a higher education, then you surely have not heard of the French woman who earned her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree only after she turned 91 years old! Isn’t that incredible?

Colette Bourlier of France is certainly not your typical 2016 graduate – because, well, she spent most of her life working and ‘being busy’ that she was not able to immediately finish her PhD studies but you might also be surprised to learn that she only pursued taking the degree after she retired back 1983!

Before retirement, Bourlier worked as a literacy teacher for immigrants at the University of Franche-Comte in Besancon, eastern France. It was this experience that led her to focus on the immigrant workers in the locality for her academic paper which was entitled, “Immigrant Workers in Besancon in the Second Half of the 20th Century”.

But unlike most students who immediately work hard on their papers to graduate in the soonest time possible, Bourlier was not in a hurry to earn her PhD. She joked, “It took a bit of time to write because I took breaks.

Photo credit: Franche Comte / The Guardian
Photo credit: Franche Comte / The Guardian

On March 15, 2016, Bourlier successfully defended her paper before a jury in the university; and the jury marked her academic paper with a ‘high distinction’!

Bourlier earns her PhD at 91 years old, making her the oldest woman in France to earn a PhD.

What a very inspiring old lady…

What is a PhD?

A Doctor of Philosophy, best abbreviated as PhD, is a doctorate degree conferred by many universities for a wide range of programs in both the sciences and humanities.

All PhD candidates must submit an academic paper (thesis or dissertation) and/or a project “often consisting of a body of original academic research”.

Graduates are conferred the title of “doctor” but since they do not have a medical degree, even if they are doctors, they are not allowed to treat patients in a medical setting.

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