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How to Pay for a PhD

To pay for a Ph.D., exhaust options for free money, including scholarships and grants, first. Your school can help you find them. Then consider federal and private student loans to cover additional costs of your Ph.D. program.

Getting a doctorate is a big commitment. Like any form of higher education, it takes a lot of time and can cost a lot of money.

  • What to do next: student loans

PhD funding: first steps

There are several funding opportunities to pay for your doctoral program. To minimize student loan debt, explore all your funding options for free money before you borrow.

Use PhD scholarships, grants, and gully-funded programs first

Scholarships and grants (including fellowships and teaching assistantships) should be your first sources of funding because they give you cash you don’t have to pay back. If you tap into these sources first, you could avoid taking out student loans altogether or minimize the amount you need to borrow.

Doctoral scholarships

There are many scholarships available to grad students. Here are a few examples to get you started:

PhD grants

There are also a number of grants that are available for PhD candidates. Some have broad granting criteria while others are focused on specific fields of study. Here are some examples:

  • Grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation: Grants are available to students from countries where anthropology is under-represented. Grants encourage collaborative research with scholars from across the globe.
  • Grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Grants are available for those contributing to research in the fields of science, technology, and economics.
  • Fulbright Grants: Fulbright Grants provide funding to support U.S. doctoral students studying internationally. They are paid for primarily by the U.S. government and are offered in a number of fields.
  • The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program: These grants offer three years of funding for those pursuing a PhD or a Sc.D. degree. They provide an annual stipend of $24,000 for research-based programs.
  • KPMG Foundation PhD Project: These grants are designed to diversify business school faculty by attracting racial minorities to doctoral programs in business and careers as business professors.
  • Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship: This fellowship is aimed at social work PhD students who National Association of Social Work members and are doing research in welfare policy and practice. The amount of the fellowship varies each year but is typically between $4,000 and $6,500.
  • AERA Doctoral Dissertation Grants: The American Educational Research Association gives one-year doctoral grants of $20,000 each to students doing research into K–12 or college teaching. Priority is given to those focused on STEM and bilingual education.
  • The American Association of University Women’s Fellowships This organization provides fellowships to American and international students who are doing research in graduate or postgraduate studies. It offers awards from $6,000 to $30,000.

Next, consider student loans

After you’ve tapped all your options for free funding, you might need to borrow to fund additional costs. Exhaust federal student aid before exploring private student loan options.

Federal student loans

Federal student loans, including Grad PLUS Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, can be affordable ways to pay for your doctoral education. There is currently no subsidized loan option for graduate students.

Private student loans

Private PhD student loans do not have the same borrower protections as federal student loans, but they can help cover additional costs once you’ve exhausted federal loans each year.

With the help of LendEDU’s blog, tools, and resources, our goal is to assist you in making educated financial decisions. LendEDU: Educated Financial Decisions.