How To Get Funding For Phd In USA

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

Studying a PhD is an exciting and extremely rewarding venture. Whether it’s for personal development, professional development, or both, a PhD can have a life-changing impact, but it also comes with its own challenges. However, thinking of ways to fund it, shouldn’t be one of them.

Some PhD students consider taking on part-time work, but after dedicating 40 hours a week to studies, you’ll want to relax, socialize and have some time away from the library and books to clear your mind, instead. Even though there’s no right or wrong way to go about funding a PhD, it does pay to be realistic and well-informed, so make sure you do your research first to find the best way for you.

Crowdfunding, employer funding and postgraduate loans are just some of the popular ways to help fund PhD studies, in addition to studentships and research council grants, which, in the world of academia, are sometimes considered ‘the golden ticket’. Read on to discover more ways you can fund a PhD.

Research council grant

Research council grants should be your first port of call when seeking any form of PhD funding if you’re from the UK or EU. They’re non-repayable, and normally cover your three or four years of studying. Depending on the study program, and academic performance, the ESRC DTP Studentships offered at LSE can cover either three or four years of your five or six-year PhD program.

The PhD Academy based in LSE’s library building, is a dedicated innovative hub space for PhD students to socialize and study. It’s also home to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) where PhD students at LSE are offered additional academic professional development and training.

Postgraduate loan

Recently introduced for the 2018-19 academic year for UK nationals, and EU national students who reside in the UK, the PhD postgraduate loan is worth up to £25,000 (~US$32,467). Much like a master’s loan, you can borrow any amount up to £25,000, regardless of your financial background.

Employer sponsorship

If you’re able to show your employer that studying a PhD will not just benefit you, but them and the company as well, they may offer you some form of employer sponsorship. To help make your case as strong as possible, you should outline what you plan to study, how long for, the cost, and above all else, exactly why you want to study a PhD and the impact it will have on your employer. This demonstrates your commitment and understanding of what you’re asking your employer to do for you, as well as what you’ll be doing for them. 


A studentship is the name most commonly used for PhD scholarships. They’re a popular form of funding for PhD students across the world, supporting students from any country, with many universities offering a number of studentships to help ease the financial pressure.

Traditionally, studentships are more common in science, technology, engineering and medicine subjects (STEM). However, PhD students at London School of Economics (LSE), have the chance to be awarded one of around 100 studentships, from its LSE PhD Studentships and LSE ESRC DTP Studentships.

For some students, receiving a PhD Studentship is the difference between being able to pursue a PhD, or not. Katherine Furman, a current MPhil/PhD Philosophy student at LSE was awarded the LSE PhD Studentship. She told us: “I received an LSE PhD Studentship, which covers both my tuition and living expenses. It was a huge honor to receive funding from such a prestigious institution and without this support it would have been impossible for me to pursue my PhD.”

Tamlyn Monson, a Sociology PhD graduate at LSE, told us of how a studentship helped her: “The LSE PhD Scholarship gave me the freedom to fully concentrate on the demanding final stage of my graduate study.”

The PhD Studentships offered at LSE, cover full fees, with an annual stipend of £18,000.


Asking your family and friends, and even strangers to help support your PhD studies may feel a little extreme, but you shouldn’t rule it out. You’ll need to be able to market yourself well, and explain why people should part with their money to help fund something that benefits you.


Fully Funded Phd Programs In Psychology

Next in my series on How To Fully Fund Your PhD, I provide a list of universities that offer full funding to all students admitted to their doctoral programs in Psychology. A PhD in Psychology provides you the credentials to join or start your own practice in clinical psychology, or pursue academic or practitioner careers in school psychology, health psychology, social psychology and organizational psychology. Jobs in these fields include social work, counseling, teaching, research, human resources, marketing, public health and behavioral science.

It’s important to note that when seeking funding for the duration of your doctoral studies, it is ideal to be accepted to programs offering full funding to all admitted students. When a university indicates that they provide full funding to their PhD students, in most cases this means they provide each admitted doctoral student full tuition and a stipend for living expenses for the four to six year duration of the student’s doctoral studies. Not all universities provide full funding to their doctoral students, so be sure to research the financial aid offerings of all the potential PhD programs in your academic field, including small and lesser-known schools both in the U.S. and abroad. A great place to look for external funding is our fellowships database, which lists several competitive fellowships for graduate and doctoral study.

Would you like to receive the full list of more than 1000+ fully funded programs in 60 disciplines? Download the FREE Directory of Fully Funded Graduate Programs and Full Funding Awards!

Columbia University, PhD in Psychology (New York, NY): All students accepted to the five-year program receive a fellowship, which supports tuition, health and insurance fees, and an annual stipend through the fifth year, provided that they maintain good academic standing.

New York University (NYU), PhD in Psychology (New York, NY): All admitted PhD students are guaranteed 5 years of funding (4 years for those with a Master’s degree). The award package typically includes a full tuition scholarship, comprehensive health insurance and a stipend.

Northwestern University, PhD in Psychology (Evanston, IL): All admitted PhD students receive full funding, including tuition and a stipend, for 5 academic years and 4 summers.

Harvard University, PhD in Psychology (Cambridge, MA): All admitted PhD students are provided with fellowship packages with up to 6 years of tuition, 3 years of 10-month support, 4 summers of research fellowships, and the guarantee of a Teaching Fellowship for the 3rd and 4th years. Depending on their advisor’s funds, students may also be supported as a Research Assistant in addition to, or as an alternative to, a Teaching Fellowship.

University of Liverpool, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Liverpool, UK): Available to EU citizens only, the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is a 3-year full-time programme fully funded by the National Health Service (NHS). Trainees are registered postgraduate students in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and employed within Mersey Care NHS Trust.

University of Maryland, PhD in Psychology (College Park, MD): All admitted PhD students are given assistance in the form of a fellowship or graduate assistantship for the first 5 years, which includes tuition remission of up to 10 credits per semester.

Rutgers University, PhD in Psychology (Piscataway, NJ): All admitted PhD students are guaranteed 5 years of funding (3 years for those with a Master’s degree), provided they remain in good standing. Financial aid covers tuition and includes a 10-month stipend or salary. Additional summer funding is available through teaching or grant funding.

University of Vermont, PhD in Psychology (Burlington, VT): The Department of Psychological Science attempts to fund all of its eligible full-time graduate students for at least 5 years, and has successfully since the inception of the PhD program in 1965.

For application tips on applying to a PhD program, see How To Get Into a Fully Funded PhD Program: Contacting Potential PhD Advisors.

To learn about other opportunities to fund graduate, doctoral and postdoctoral study, sign up to view our fellowships database, which lists more than 1300 funded fellowship program

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