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Studying PhD Funding

  1. Nov 29, 2016 #1
    How does one fund their PhD research? Do you live very poor? I want to study to be a physicist but I kind of a have a time frame to make some money within 4-5 years (I'm currently doing undergraduate studies). How does it all work? I just want insight from personal experiences.

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  3. Nov 29, 2016 #2


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    From your profs or supervisor. If you don't get scholarship or are not entitled to a fellowship, "only" tuition and living expenses that you have to take out from your own saving.
  4. Nov 29, 2016 #3
    Physics PhD students generally have their tuition paid for and are also given a stipend for living expenses, but how much is highly dependent on the school, program, and what fellowships/opportunities you get. I was offered a stipend from 12 graduate schools, and none of them offered me a stipend that I felt I would not be able to live on given the local cost of living - the 12-month offers ranged from ~$22k to $37k. You can also check out the applicant profiles at physicsgre.com, where many students post the financial details of their offers as well.
  5. Nov 29, 2016 #4
    Under the following conditions:

    (1) The school is in the US
    (2) The school has a strong enough physics program worth attending
    (3) The school really wants you

    then your PhD program can be fully funded in that you can receive

    (1) Full waiver of tuition and fees
    (2) Funding comprising one or more of the following:
    (a) Teaching assistantship
    (b) Research assistantship
    (c) Fellowship
    (d) Scholarship

    The funding should cover all living expenses (food, housing, clothing), books and supplies, and some extras. How your funding is allocated will vary a lot with the individual school. Some examples: Fellowships are often offerred to the top candidates only. In some schools, research assistantships are not available for incoming students. The default typically is a teaching assistantship. Once a professor has accepted you as a thesis student, the support typically is a research assistantship.

    Note that the full waiver of tuition and fees is often tied to the grant of a teaching or research assistantship or fellowship; if you lose your grant, you will also lose the waiver. The situation in which this sometimes occurs is if you have a research assistantship and your professor runs out of grant money. You then may have to fall back on a teaching assistantship, which takes time from your research; in some instances, the department may rescue you with reserve funds.

    So, you should consider schools that

    (1) Fully fund you
    (2) Have large undergrad physics enrollments that require grad teaching assistants
    (3) Have research professors with strong research grants
    (4) Have strong departmental reserves (e.g., alumni funds) to help bail you out in case your advisor goes broke.

    Some grad students also apply for fellowships and internships from sources external to the school.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
  6. Nov 29, 2016 #5


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    Please read Part VI of the "So You Want To Be A Physicist" essay.

    Secondly, you do not get funding for your research, i.e. you do not request a research grant. The faculty members of your school are the ones who do. The research grants that they get will have allocations to support one or more students, usually graduate students, but in many cases, also undergraduate students. So if you have already chosen an advisor to work for, and if your advisor has research grant money to support you as a RA, then that is how you get "funded" to do your research.

  7. Nov 29, 2016 #6
    I believe that the OP is using "funding" in the generic broad sense of "sources of money to pay for the program", not a specialized narrow sense of "research grant money". In my post, I was also using the generic sense.
  8. Nov 29, 2016 #7


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    I've been here long enough to know that there can be a range of intentions based on something like this. Besides, including the link that I gave, I covered both scenarios.

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