Best Fully Funded Doctoral Programs for Aspiring Ph.D. Candidates

Best Fully Funded Doctoral Programs for Aspiring Ph.D. Candidates

Best Fully Funded Doctoral Programs for Aspiring Ph.D. Candidates

There’s no denying the value of an education. Earning a degree can be fulfilling, and having one can help you pursue a career in your dream field. Unfortunately, getting that education can be expensive. Currently, student debt exceeds 1 trillion dollars [1].

When you are pursuing your undergraduate degree, you may be able to offset some of your expenses with grants. That’s not the case when it’s time to go for your master’s or Ph.D. You’re no longer eligible for that kind of aid. Instead, you must self-fund, take out loans, get an assistantship, or consider another option.

You may be able to complete your doctoral program for free if you apply for a fully funded program.

What Is a Fully Funded Doctoral Program?

A fully funded doctoral program is one that students can attend at no cost. In some cases, students can even receive funds to cover some living costs.

The average total cost of a doctoral degree is just over $114,000. Of course, what you pay may vary quite a bit. Your final costs will be influenced by the program you choose, the university you attend, and whether you receive any sort of grants or scholarships to offset your costs. However, if you are admitted to a fully funded program, your costs are eliminated entirely [2].

What Are the Benefits of Fully Funded Programs?

The benefits of these programs are more than financial in nature. Students who are subsidized like this are able to concentrate fully on their course of study. They experience less stress over debt and may not need to take on additional work in order to survive. Instead, they can more fully participate in TA programs, internships, and research projects.

There are also external benefits. People may fair better when their colleagues are well-educated and prepared to make a positive contribution. Future customers, clients, and patients can also benefit when the person from whom they seek services is highly educated.

Funded Ph.D. Programs to Consider

No matter what discipline interests you, there is probably at least one fully funded Ph.D. program available to you. Here are some of the top college and university programs that have eliminated the cost of attendance.

Columbia University

If you’re interested in pursuing your Ph.D. in clinical psychology, take a look at Columbia University. Your tuition could be covered in full. Additionally, students who enroll in the Teacher’s College may qualify to receive a stipend of $25,000 per year [3].

There’s just one caveat. This program and most others require you to work as a teaching assistant or research assistant. The program lasts between five and seven years. Graduates will usually work in one of the following places:

  • Hospitals and clinics
  • State and community agencies
  • Research institutes
  • Colleges and universities

Columbia is an elite school with rigorous academic requirements. Students should expect to intensely focus on academics while they are enrolled.

The University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania is widely regarded as one of the top business schools in the United States. It takes an impressive academic track record to earn admission there. If you do make it in, you may qualify for a yearly fellowship that is enough to cover tuition and health insurance. There’s even some left over for a monthly stipend [4].

Wharton is well known for its MBA program. However, you can also study finance, accounting, applied economics, marketing, management, ethics and legal studies, and more.

The program includes two years of classroom learning. This is followed up with three years of research and project-based learning experiences.

University of Southern California

If you prefer a sunnier climate, you could apply at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. All applicants are considered for a five-year fellowship that covers tuition and pays a monthly stipend. There are also graduate assistant opportunities.[5]

Ph.D. candidates at USC can focus on:

  • Finance
  • Management and Organization
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Data Sciences and Operations

In some cases, students may even qualify for postgraduate funding. However, that requires being involved in fairly intensive postgraduate research.

Harvard University

Yes, it is possible to obtain an Ivy League doctorate for free. Harvard University offers funding for Ph.D. students through a tiered financial aid program that progressively offers students more funding each year they attend [5].

Additionally, students who attend the T.H. Chan School of Public Health to study biological sciences can receive full educational funding through one of several generous fellowships [6].

Under this program, students will receive enough money to pay for their tuition, cover health insurance, and get a stipend for living expenses. In return, they must make acceptable progress. By participating in this program, students also have the opportunity to take part in research projects relating to many serious illnesses, including diabetes, cancer, malaria, and renal disease.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Students should be aware that colleges offering these programs are making a serious investment in them. In return, they are often expected to:

  • Maintain good grades
  • Work within their academic department
  • Refrain from working other jobs
  • Contribute via research projects or by helping undergrads

Also, stipends are generous, but they are not intended to be extravagant. Students should expect to live simply and pay close attention to their spending if they want their money to last.

This list includes only a sampling of Ph.D. programs that offer funding through fellowships, grants, and other programs. Any student who wants to receive a doctoral degree at little or no cost should take some time to research their options online.

Thanks to these programs and others, many students are able to pursue their educational goals without accruing debt. However, these are merit-based programs. Students qualify by establishing a solid academic track record and showing admissions committees that they are worth the investment.



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