1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Getting a PhD in the USA as a German

  1. Jun 30, 2009 #1
    for personal reasons I really really want to get my PhD in the USA. I'll have my german diploma in 1.5 years or so (which is at least a masters equivalent) and already attended 1 year of non-degree gradschool at UNM (New Mexico). Here in Germany you usually get paid as a PhD student, half as much as a regular research employee. In New Mexico you don't have to pay tuition if you have a TA position, which is usually the case, and you get paid. But I don't plan to get back there.

    Is there any way to get a PhD somewhere in the states without having to pay absurd tuition? And even be able to live off of it? I don't see how I am supposed to afford $10,000 a year or even more withouth being able to work, since I have to study to get my PhD, right? Are student loans or being excellent and getting scholarships the only way?

    Please help me, I'm almost panicing, looking at those tuition rates... :(

    Edit. Oh, I just got a little calmer. I am seeing right now, that stipends are something slightly different in the states than here. Here it is really hard to get on, but here at Dartmouth (just a random example) it says that as a RA you don't have to pay tuition and get $1,810 per month. How likely is it to get one of these stipends (doesn't have to be Dartmouth, assuming every school offers that)? Is it unusual or is the norm?
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2009 #2
    Most PhD students are funded, and at most top privates, all are funded. The hard part is getting in.
  4. Jul 1, 2009 #3
    How likely is it that I have to pass the GRE, having a german diploma in physics?
  5. Jul 1, 2009 #4

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    It's certain. However, it's not something that you pass, it's something where you receive a score.
  6. Jul 2, 2009 #5
    Do you think my diploma would be any good in the states? I mean it qualifies me at least as much as a masters student, but I've seen students that only have a bachelor starting a PhD program. I wouldn't want to be on their level, having to take any classes again that I've already taken or having to pass the prelims.

    Sorry that I keep asking but I was expecting some answers that go beyond a single line. Maybe someone has experience with german PhD students and can tell me a little bit about it.
  7. Jul 2, 2009 #6

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    You should expect to fulfill the same requirements as a US student. You certainly will have to pass the qualifying exam, and in all likelihood you will take the same courses. Expect the university to look askance at you if you say, "I want to enroll in your university, just not take any courses."
  8. Jul 2, 2009 #7
    Your diploma is "good" in that it qualifies you for admission in any PhD program, just as an American bachelor's does. Whether it gets you out of any course requirements will depend on the department -- there is no standardization. You probably won't get "credit" for courses per se, but you may get exemptions from courses based on your previous coursework or testing. You'll just have to check with the individual departments that you're interested in. (You can also just choose a program that doesn't require the basic sequence of graduate-level courses, which is fairly common among the better programs.) It's highly unlikely that you'll get out of prelims/quals.

    Incidentally, based on my experiences with European students in good US graduate programs, you're probably not as far ahead of your American colleagues as you think.
  9. Jul 2, 2009 #8
    Same requirements as a US student with a bachelors or a masters degree? I never said I didn't want to take any classes, but I don't want to take any classes that I already passed in germany.
  10. Jul 2, 2009 #9
    Most American students go straight into a PhD program with just a bachelor's, and so PhD programs are based on that; there are no separate requirements for someone who already has a master's. Master's programs aren't any more standardized than PhD programs, so it would be futile to design requirements for people who have them. Undergrad physics education (at least insofar as the core subjects and the math requirements) is reasonably consistent across schools.
  11. Jul 2, 2009 #10
    I think I understand now. Looks like I'm looking at a long time in school then. If I would stay here, I could have my german PhD in about 3 years after I get my diploma. Sucks to be me... by the time I will be 26 or so and I will start grad school with people that are 22. Thanks for your information. But if anyone has more input, keep it coming.
  12. Jul 2, 2009 #11


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Actually.... In my Research Group in Grad School, I am the youngest, and I am 24... The average is 27... and the Max is 35
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook