Most PhD programs are full time programs that do not allow students to work outside of the university while completing their degree over a 3 to 7 year time period, varying by program and your previous qualifications. A majority of universities do however offer both a tuition waiver (ie: free tuition) and a stipend (salary) as a result of the PhD student fulfilling additional research support and teaching duties for the university. However, many of these stipends remain low especially when compared to cost of living and therefore do not do much to absolve PhD students from additional student loan debt required to complete their degree.
I stumbled upon a Twitter thread containing various research projects to collect data on PhD stipends and wanted to share some resources for you to peruse if you are considering a PhD. I figure if I find this information useful, then so will you. And also, adding it here is a handy way for me to find it again 😉
Note: My PhD is a part time program. It was a specific choice I made to search for a PhD program that would allow me to stay in my current university employment while completing the program. Everyone’s choice is their own decision and it is my personal opinion that students should make decisions that will result in the least amount of debt possible to complete a degree. Most of this information presented below reflects full time in-person PhD programs. I am not aware of universities that offer stipends or assistantships for part time study.
PhDStipends.com – This site allows you to enter your current stipend amount, if you are a PhD student, as well as review a searchable database of information already submitted by over 7000 individuals. This data is all self reported and therefore not verified. Don’t confuse overall pay with yearly pay. Gross pay is the column to report annual earnings. There are some clear errors in here, but it is interesting to see some of the reported information as well as the comments on how former graduate students at certain universities afforded their education along with expenses like rent, parking, university fees, etc. This site is run by Emily Roberts, PhD @PFforPhDs . If you care to wade into the debate about how the site could be verified, here is an interesting thread about it on Twitter. If you are now thinking … “Wow, this would be great for a research project.” Yes, Emily thinks so too. Here is your CSV link http://www.phdstipends.com/csv
@Erin_Bartram ‘s study – @Erin_Bartram also has an open, crowd sourced study collecting data on graduate assistantships and stipends. This study is broader in scoping including information on adjunct positions. To read the submitted data so far, you can access her Google spreadsheet. If you want to participate and submit your own data, you can submit via her Google form.
If you want to wade into the over 4000 and counting comments of interesting reports of salaries by university or by country, feel free to click into @SusannaLHarris’s Twitter post below.
F*ck it. I want to know how much grad students pay or make around the world – we don't have that info. Anybody want to add to this thread?— Susanna L Harris (@SusannaLHarris) January 30, 2020
I am doing a PhD in microbiology at UNC-Chapel Hill. I make $32,000 USD per year before tax, and my tuition/fees are paid for.
I will caution you about believing all of the claims above, especially from people who claim that stipends are tax free. To my knowledge they are not. Be smart, call a CPA.
If you have completed your degree and now wonder what you’re worth, Dr. Roberts also manages a site called PostDocSalaries.com which offers a similar approach for academics to both enter and view reported data from those who have completed their PhD. The majority of this data represents post doc fellowship positions. It’s my opinion that most of the respondents appear to be from the natural sciences. It would be nice to see more business and related disciplines submit information here.