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Does it cost to go to Grad school for physics?

  1. Aug 24, 2012 #1
    I've heard differing opinions on whether or not it costs to attend grad school (phd) for physics.

    I know that if you are a TA/RA you will receive a stipend, but does that also cover tuition prices?
    Is this true for grad programs across the board in the US? Meaning, does this apply to Ivy league schools down to state schools?

    Does every incoming accepted grad student get offered a TA/RA position?

    I'm just trying to see how much going to grad school will put me in debt. I already have quite a substantial amount of loans out from undergrad, and I really want to attend grad school and get my phd, but I'm worried I can't afford it.

    Thanks for any help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    I think I accumulated about as much debt in (NZ) grad school as I did as an undergrad - however: my course-fees were taxpayer funded for the undergrad and I was able to work part time. Fortunately physics is relatively cheap to study.

    Postgrad - course material costs were almost nonexistant and, after a rocky start, I was able to work for the college as a TA which paid most of my living costs. If I hadn't been rent free I would not have been able to afford it. The others in my year had special scholarships and stuff.

    The Physics dept at my college offers all postgrads who want one a job - there is usually a shortage of BSc.s for the available positions so it's easy for them. If you found your department was well supplied with grads to help you in your junior years then the same will be true for you.

    However, different departments and different colleges offer different kinds of support. You should be talking to someone like the Dean or whoever overseas the postgrad intake program you are interested in.
  4. Aug 24, 2012 #3


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    In the US, physics PhD programs will waive your tuition and offer you a stipend in return for working for them as a TA or RA while doing your degree. This can include the masters work if you apply to a PhD program with a bachelors, but usually does NOT apply to students only seeking a masters and not the PhD as well.

    You won't have to pay tuition, but you will have to pay fees (includes health care, and these can amount to a 1-2k per semester at most schools) and for housing, but hopefully you can cover most of that with the stipend. Depending on the size of the stipend and the local cost of living, some students take out small loans (5k or so) every few years to cover expenses (books, fees, housing, food, car, etc). But it's not like undergrad.

    If a school accepts you and does not offer you a stipend, this is considered a polite rejection. It happens sometimes when they run out of money for stipends, but they usually don't expect people to accept the offer.
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