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Programs Costs of graduate study (PhD)

  1. Mar 27, 2010 #1
    Hey, so I've been hearing a lot about how one is usually (often, rarely, always?) financed while doing a PhD with a minimal stipend or salary of a kind, that nevertheless enables one to manage without incurring more debt.

    In regards to that, I was wondering how often does one who is doing a PhD in USA or Canada get such monetary support. I've looked at a couple of websites and UBC, for example, states that everyone who is doing a PhD in Physics receives at least ~$20k net. Is it the same at other universities or are they more selective?

    Mind you, I'll be starting my second undergraduate degree this Fall, but I guess an answer to this could assist with my choice between going to Canada (more expensive) or UK (cheaper, though not cheap). If one namely doesn't need to incur more debt while doing a PhD, then I guess I would be more inclined to take a bigger financial risk in regards to undergraduate studies.
     
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  3. Mar 27, 2010 #2

    Choppy

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    In Canada, just about all the programs that I'm familiar with will support their graduate students with a combination of a stipend and either a teaching assistancship or an research assistancship. On top of that many students will receive external scholarships from agencies like NSERC or provincial foundations. The money isn't alot, but should be enough to cover tuition and modest living expenses without incurring further debt.

    When you apply, the details of the financial support the institution will provide are outlined clearly in the offer of admission - so there isn't any guesswork on your part.

    Something else to keep in mind is cost of living too.
     
  4. Mar 27, 2010 #3
    Thanks for the answer, that was helpful and somewhat reassuring to hear that if you're good enough to be accepted to a PhD program, you're also very likely to be able to do it, regardless of your financial situation.
    What were you aiming at here, though? The UK vs. Canada comparison or was it directed towards the graduate study "allowance"?
     
  5. Mar 27, 2010 #4

    Office_Shredder

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    In the US and Canada, being funded by the school is very common.

    In the UK, you often have to find funding from an outside source (apply for scholarships etc.)
     
  6. Mar 27, 2010 #5
    Is there a lot of scholarships available, though? I mean, does a fair share of graduate students get those scholarships eventually or are there only a select few that get them?

    Oh, and what about places such as Australia or mainland Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland etc.)?
     
  7. Mar 27, 2010 #6

    Choppy

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    Consider for example things like rent. This can vary significantly from city to city. Even if tuition is cheaper in the UK, I believe (though I'm not sure) that rent is substantially more expensive in the UK than in Canada - although from what I understand rent is pretty high around UBC too.

    I just thought it was something worth mentioning.
     
  8. Mar 27, 2010 #7

    cristo

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    While this is technically true, it may confuse some people in practice. Yes, it's correct that most of the STEM studentships (I can't talk about arts, humanities, etc..) in the UK (which include a stipend and waiver of tuition fees) are funded by research councils, or industry, or bits of both. But, it is not the norm that one has to apply externally to these sources. What usually happens is that university departments are allocated a number of these studentships, and they then employ students and allocate them to a studentship. So, there's still only one application and it's to the department.

    Tuition isn't really a big deal in the UK-- it is certainly the norm that (again in STEM subjects) students are funded by someone, and thus tuition fees are waived. A monthly stipend is then given to the student, which is to cover the cost of living, rent etc.. This is the same everywhere in the country, apart from london where (as with all jobs) there is a london weighting that applies.


    N.B. One other thing to note is that most of the sources of income for graduate students are only available to "home" (i.e. UK or EU students), and international students will have to pay tuition etc..
     
  9. Mar 27, 2010 #8
    Something important to remember here is that the discussion here only applies to physics and math. Other Ph.D.'s have very, very different funding systems. In education and geology, it's more common for the Ph.D. to be done by working professionals.

    The funding system in US actually sounds very similar to UK, since most schools get the money for grad students from the legislature or from the National Science Foundation. The immigration situation is very, very different. There are simply not enough "native born" graduate students to fill demand, and so US universities are filled with foreign students. It is also is the situation that being a graduate student is one of the few ways that people from some countries (China and India) can get into the US legally.

    One other thing is that while it's a bad idea to get a Ph.D. solely or even mainly for the money, the financial aspects of the Ph.D. are rather attractive. Idea that there are no jobs for Ph.D. applies only if you restrict yourself to academic positions. Someone with a physics Ph.D. can without too much difficulty get a job paying $80K on graduation, and your chances of landing a job with $100K-$120K are probably roughly the same as someone with an MBA, except that you have no debt.
     
  10. Mar 27, 2010 #9
    Yeah, I've already thought about out, actually. From what I gathered, it would cost an international student ~€25 - 30k for a year in Canada, compared to ~€15k in the UK (being a home/EU student). I believe you're right that rent is higher in UK, but it still doesn't make up for the difference in tuition fees. This would, of course, be different if I was to be assessed an international fee, which would then make UK more expensive.

    This was very helpful, and as for the latter comment/caveat, I'm glad I'm a citizen of the EU then :)

    Great post as always, twofish. Especially the last paragraph seems very encouraging to hear. Does it apply to foreigners, as well? Or are they/we only "welcome" in North America as far as graduate studies are concerned? I've heard of ballots in regards to working VISAs, but are these carried out for STEM workers, as well?
     
  11. Mar 27, 2010 #10

    cristo

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    Is this tuition fees alone? If so, then you're looking more at £4k a year in the UK.

    I'm not sure of the exact details, but as long as you're an EU citizen and have been resident in the EU for three years prior to your starting a PhD, you will be classed as a home student.

    As for the cost of living, this will of course vary by region, but I reckon you can probably live quite comfortably on about £10k.
     
  12. Mar 28, 2010 #11
    cristo, the first paragraph you quoted weren't tuition fees alone, but living costs included. So I guess I went with your calculation of being able to live on £10k + £3.5 - 4k tuition fees = ~€15k :)

    As for being resident in the EU for three years prior to starting your PhD, if I still keep my permament residence in the EU, despite studying outside of it, does it count as being resident in the EU?
     
  13. Mar 28, 2010 #12
    So all things considered, I guess the underlying motive for my original question was that if I go to the UK, I would probably not need to get loans (well, other than my parents' at least :)) or depend on scholarships and work-study schemes, whereas in Canada, according to the rough calculations, I'd need to somehow along the four years of study get access to an additional sum of around €30 - 40k (around $CDN 40 - 55k, I guess; is it feasible for an international student to earn such an amount of money through work-study and scholarships in Canada?).

    The answers I got here therefore did reassure me at least in that if I would need to resort to loans for that additional sum I'd need, at least that wouldn't hinder my graduate studies - provided, of course, I will do good enough to get into a PhD program.
     
  14. Mar 28, 2010 #13

    cristo

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    I'm not sure to be honest. I *think* you could argue that, since your residence outside of the EU was temporary and for study, your residency prior would still be classed as in the EU, but that may be open to interpretation by the fees office of the specific university.
     
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