91-year-old French woman earns PhD after 3 decades

/ 04:35 PM March 16, 2016

A 91-year-old woman in France recently earned her PhD after completing a thesis which she drafted three decades ago.

Colette Bourlier successfully defended her academic paper entitled ‘“Immigrant workers in Besancon in the second half of the 20th century” on March 15 (Tuesday) before a jury of the University of Franche-Comte in Besancon, eastern France. The jury marked her thesis ‘high distinction’ and she became the oldest woman in the country to earn a PhD.


When asked why it took her a lengthy amount of time to complete her work, Bourlier said in an interview with AFP, “It took a bit of time to write because I took breaks.”

Based on her work as a literacy teacher for immigrants at the eastern French city, she pursued to write a thesis about the said topic. Bourlier became interested in a PhD after her retirement in 1983.


Usually, three years is allowed for a PhD program in France, but Bourlier was “an extremely atypical“ student, said her professor, Serge Ormaux.

“She is probably the only person who knew all the aspects in such detail and who was able to weave everything together. She backed it up with statistical analyses.”

Similar to Bourlier, Dorothy Huston, a 93-year-old woman, recently earned her high school diploma after 75 years of longing. After accidentally divulging to her gym teacher that she got married, the North High School in Akron, Ohio, scrapped Huston from their graduating list in 1942. Gianna Catolico

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