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Did you know that a PhD is usually free for the student?

Unlike doctorates in medicine (MD) or in law (JD), in the United States the cost of a PhD is usually subsidized through a combination of the doctoral program, the thesis laboratory, external scholarships and assistantships. In addition, apart from not having to pay for their studies, most PhD students in science receive a monthly stipend for their personal expenses.


Although this is not a secret among academics, if you are beginning to consider postgraduate education, you may never have heard this information before. 


How is it possible that a PhD does not cost anything for the student?


One of the main objectives of the doctoral process is to create a thesis where you will expand the knowledge of the field you study. This process is valuable and requires experiments, publications, data and others that are essential for the survival of a laboratory. In many cases, the subject of your thesis will be the subject of your research, this turns your efforts in the laboratory into a type of full-time employment. In this way, the laboratory benefits from your efforts while you complete the doctorate and avoid incurring substantial student loans.


The money you receive as a PhD student usually comes from grants previously obtained by the laboratory, but this can be supplemented with funds from your program or department. This is not the only way that a PhD is paid for. Depending on the program or the laboratory, you will have to submit applications for external scholarships that will mitigate the expenses of your training. Although the applications for these scholarships can be somewhat complex, you would be helped throughout the process by veterans in your program, since it benefits from the prestige of having students funded.


Doctoral stipends range from about $ 27,000 to $ 33,000 a year, which means you would have about $ 2,000 or more each month. Typically, little or none of this money goes for tuition or course costs. It is also worth mentioning that, on many occasions, these scholarships or grants subsidize medical and dental plans. When all the benefits are added (stipend + doctoral classes + technical laboratory preparation + medical and dental plan), it is estimated that the PhD student receives the equivalent of more than $ 70,000 per year.


In other cases, students do Teaching Assistantships (TA). These semester jobs employ students to assist different professors in their tasks. This will include proofreading, assignments, teaching and answering questions of your students. You could also give laboratory classes to undergraduate students and remember that all this can be included as an experience in your CV/Resume.


These are some of the ways that the PhD is paid for. Keep in mind that each program has different strategies to cover the costs of a PhD and that NOT every program will automatically pay for it once they accept you. To avoid incurring in hefty student loans, ask about the programs that interest you. You can call or send emails to the administrative offices of the programs and they will be more than willing to answer all your questions. Do not be afraid to ask the questions directly, this will avoid financial surprises when you accept an academic offer.


Were you surprised that they can pay you to get a PhD?

Tell us in the comments!