fully funded phd in cyber security in usa

Eligibility for Country/Course 

These fully-funded Ph.D. programs in the USA for international students are doctoral programs. Moreover, since these programs are also for out-of-state students, there is no restriction on the country’s eligibility. 

Additionally, the range of fully-funded Ph.D. programs in the US varies from small grants to full studentships.

Level of Scholarship 

The doctoral programs are the highest academic degrees awarded to a student by a university. You will only be eligible for the fully-funded Ph.D. program if you have completed a pre-requisite or postgraduate program. 

The Ph.D. would involve the students engaging independently in original research in a particular field or subject of their choice. 


The duration of fully-funded Ph.D. programs in the USA can differ for various streams or students. American universities usually have some time restrictions. Generally, it is three to five years.

Subject/Fields for Fully Funded PhD. Programs In The USA

The USA’s fully funded Ph.D. programs for international students generally do not cover specific programs. Some scholarships provided by certain universities can be only for particular fields. For instance, the Rice University Fully Funded Doctoral program is restricted to some majors which include:

  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Engineering 
  • Humanities 
  • Music
  • Natural Sciences 
  • Social Sciences

Several scholarships, grants, and studentships are available for Ph.D. programs in the US. Some of them are sponsored by organizations, while the universities push others. 

We have listed some common ones below for your reference:

  • Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant for Doctoral Students
  • IBM Fellowship Awards Program for Ph.D. Students
  • Facebook Emerging Scholar Programme
  • Microsoft Research Scholarship for Scholars in Europe Africa Middle East (EMEA)
  • Columbia University International Postdoctoral Humanities Fellowship
  • University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Program (UMAPS)
  • PEO International Peace Scholarship for Women to Study in USA and Canada
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Some of the US universities that provide fully-funded PhD programs are listed in the table mentioned below:

US Universities Fully Funded Ph.D. ProgramsAwards
Harvard UniversityPh.D. in Biological Sciences in Public HealthFull fee waiver
University of ChicagoPh.D. in AnthropologyFull fee waiver
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyPh.D. in Business USD 4,035.50 (INR 3.33 Lakh) + Travel expenses for a term of 5 years i.e., USD 4,500 (INR 3.72 Lakh + a new laptop is given)
Rice University – Jones Graduate School of BusinessPh.D. in Business A tuition waiver and a USD 40,000 (INR 33 Lakh) annual stipend
University of Iowa’s Tippie College of BusinessPh.D. degrees in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Management, Business Analytics, and Marketing Full tuition and fees, a minimum nine-months stipend of about USD 20,041 (INR 16.54 Lakh), with annual adjustments, and comprehensive health insurance.
Cornell UniversityPh.D. in Chemical Engineering Full tuition waiver, stipend, and health insurance
Emory UniversityPh.D. in Economics USD 31,775 (INR 26.23 Lakh) per year for five years, and the full-tuition scholarship is worth USD 65,700 (INR 54.23 Lakh) per year.
Boston UniversityPh.D. in English a stipend of about USD 28,000 (INR 23.10 Lakh) plus full tuition, fees, and basic health insurance
Duke UniversityPh.D. in Nursing Full tuition and a 12-months stipend
Columbia UniversityPh.D. in Clinical Psychology Fully funded tuition and a USD 25,000 (INR 20.64 Lakh) stipend annually for four years.

(Source: usnews.com)

Application Duration of Fully Funded PhD. Programs In The USA

Application deadlines and notifications will vary according to the grant or scholarship you apply to. Following are the tentative application deadlines for the above-mentioned fully-funded Ph.D. programs.

Fully-funded Ph.D. Program NameApplication Deadline (Tentative)
Microsoft Research Dissertation Grant for Doctoral StudentsLast week of March
IBM Fellowship Awards Program for Ph.D. StudentsLast week of October
Facebook Emerging Scholar ProgrammeMid September
Microsoft Research Scholarship for Scholars in Europe Africa Middle East (EMEA)First week of June
Columbia University International Postdoctoral Humanities FellowshipFirst week of October
University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Program (UMAPS)Mid October
PEO International Peace Scholarship for Women to Study in USA and CanadaMid December

Mode of Application 

The mode of application for all these fully-funded Ph.D. programs in the USA for international students is online.

Eligibility Criteria And Additional Requirements 

The eligibility criteria and additional requirements will vary according to different funding programs. To give you all an insight, here are the entry requirements for the IBM Fellowship Awards Program for Ph.D. Students.

Applications are welcome for students from all nationalities. However, all such nominees:

  • cannot nominate themselves and instead must be selected by the doctoral faculty member 
  • have to be enrolled full-time in a Ph.D. program over two consecutive academic years of the award/forfeit the fellowship
  • must have three years remaining in the program at the nomination time so the fellowship can be used for the last two years of study
  • cannot be from the US-embargoed countries 
  • should be in the same program for the award duration. Transferring departments or schools is not allowed  

Value of Scholarship 

The value of scholarships will also differ according to various funding programs for Ph.D. On average,  USD 25,000 to USD 40,000 (INR 20,63,363 to INR 33,01,380)

Selection Process 

The selection process of fully-funded Ph.D. programs in the USA is based on three factors:

  • Merit-based funding
  • Need-based funding
  • International funding

Requirements for Continuing Scholarships

Major fully-funded Ph.D. programs renew automatically for the next year varies on the basis of the student program.

Top Universities in the USA
City University of SeattleUniversity of North Carolina Chapel HillUniversity of Connecticut
Oregon State UniversityAdelphi UniversityClemson University
National University CaliforniaLewis UniversityKnoxville University
Georgia Institute of TechnologySan Jose State UniversityUniversity of North Texas

The cybersecurity landscape is not just growing—it’s evolving at a breakneck pace. And what better way to stay ahead of the curve than by pursuing a PhD in cybersecurity?

This advanced degree is no longer confined to the realm of computer science. Today, it branches into diverse fields like law, policy, management, and strategy, reflecting the multifaceted nature of modern cyber threats.

If you’re looking to become a thought leader in this dynamic industry, a PhD in cybersecurity offers an unparalleled opportunity to deepen your expertise and broaden your horizons.

This guide is designed to give prospective cybersecurity PhD students a general overview of available cybersecurity PhD programs. It will also outline some of the factors to consider when trying to find the right PhD program fit, such as course requirements and tuition costs. 

Industry demand for PhDs in cybersecurity

Like other cutting edge technology fields, until recently, cybersecurity PhD programs were often training grounds for niche positions specialized research, often for government agencies (like the CIA, NSA, and FBI),  or closely adjacent research organizations or institutions. 

Today, however, as the cybersecurity field grows to become more pervasive and consumer-oriented, there are opportunities for cybersecurity PhDs to work at public-facing companies like startups and name-brand financial, software, infrastructure, and digital service firms.

One trend that is emerging in the cybersecurity field is that cybersecurity experts need to be well-versed in a variety of growing threats. If recent headlines about cybersecurity breaches are any indication, there are a number of new attack vectors and opportunities for cybercrime and related issues. Historically, committing cybercrime took resources and a level of sophistication that required specialized training or skill.

But now, because of the pervasiveness of the internet, committing cybercrime is becoming more commonplace. So training in a cybersecurity PhD program gives students an opportunity to become an expert in one part of a growing and multi-layered field.

In fact, this trend of needing well-trained, but adaptable cybersecurity professionals is reflected by the move by cybersecurity graduate schools to offer specialized master’s degrees and many companies and professional organizations offer certifications in cybersecurity that focus on particular issues related to cybersecurity technology, cybersecurity lawdigital forensics, policy, or related topics.

That said, traditional research-oriented cybersecurity positions continue to be in demand in academia and elsewhere — a trend that will likely continue. 

One interesting facet of the cybersecurity field is trying to predict what future cybersecurity threats might look like and then develop tools and systems to protect against those threats.

As new technologies and services are developed and as more of the global population begins using internet services for everything from healthcare to banking — new ways of protecting those services will be required. Often, it’s up to academic researchers to think ahead and examine various threats and opportunities to insulate against those threats.

Another key trend coming out of academic circles is that cybersecurity students are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary.

As cybersecurity hacks impact more parts of people’s everyday lives, so too do the academic programs that are designed to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. This emerging trend creates an enormous amount of opportunity for students that have a variety of interests and who are looking to create a non-traditional career path.

What is required to get a PhD in cybersecurity?

Good news first: Obtaining a PhD in a field related to cybersecurity will likely create tremendous employment opportunities and lead to interesting and dynamic career options.

Bad news: Getting a PhD requires a lot of investment of time and energy, and comes with a big opportunity cost (meaning you have to invest four to five years, or longer, or pursuing other opportunities to obtain a doctoral degree. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of what is required to get a PhD in cybersecurity. Of course, specific degree requirements will vary by program. One growing trend in the field is that students can now obtain degrees in a variety of formats, including traditional on-campus programs, online degree programs, and hybrid graduate degree programs that combine both on-campus learning with online learning. 

Preparing for a cybersecurity doctorate program

Cybersecurity is a relatively new formalized technology field, nonetheless, there are a number of ways that students or prospective PhD candidates can get involved or explore the field before and during a graduate school program. A few examples of ways to start networking and finding opportunities include: 

Join cybersecurity organizations with professional networks

Specialized professional organizations are a good place to find the latest in career advice and guidance. Often they publish newsletters or other kinds of information that provides insights into the emerging trends and issues facing cybersecurity professionals. A couple of examples include:

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit dedicated to training cybersecurity professionals and fostering a sense of collaboration. The organization also publishes information and analysis of the latest cybersecurity threats and issues facing the professional community.

The SANS Institute runs a number of different kinds of courses for students (including certification programs) as well as ongoing professional cybersecurity education and training for people working in the field. The organization has several options including webinars, online training, and live in-person seminars. Additionally, SANS also publishes newsletters and maintains forums for cybersecurity professionals to interact and share information.

Leverage your social network

Places like LinkedIn and Twitter are a good place to start to find news and information about what is happening in the field, who the main leaders and influencers are, and what kinds of jobs and opportunities are available.

Starting a professional network early is also a great opportunity. Often professionals and members of the industry are willing to provide guidance and help to students that are genuinely interested in the field and looking for career opportunities. 

Cybersecurity competitions 

Cybersecurity competitions are a great way to get hands-on experience working on real cybersecurity problems and issues. As a PhD student or prospective student, cybersecurity competitions that are sponsored by industry groups are a great way to meet other cybersecurity professionals while getting working on projects that will help flesh out a resume or become talking points in later job interviews.

The US Cyber Challenge, for example, is a series of competitions and hackathon-style events hosted by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the Center for Internet Security with the goal of preparing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.


Internships also continue to be a tried and true way to gain professional experience. Internships in technical fields like cybersecurity can also pay well. Like the industry itself, cybersecurity internships are available across a wide range of industries and can range from academic research-oriented to more corporate kinds of work. 

Things to consider when choosing a cybersecurity PhD program

There are a number of considerations to evaluate when considering any kind of graduate degree, but proper planning is essential in order to be able to obtain a doctoral degree. It’s also important to note that these are just guidelines and that each graduate program will have specific requirements, so be sure to double-check.

What you will need before applying to a cybersecurity PhD program:

  • All undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • A statement of intent, which is like a cover letter outlining interest
  • Letters of reference
  • Application fee
  • Online application
  • A resume or CV outlining professional and academic accomplishments

What does a cybersecurity PhD program cost?

Obtaining a PhD is a massive investment, both in terms of time and money. Obviously, cybersecurity PhD students are weighing the cost of becoming an expert in the field with the payoff of having interesting and potentially lucrative career opportunities on the other side.

Most traditional, campus-based doctoral programs range between $1,300 and $2,000 per credit hour. Degree requirements are usually satisfied in 60-75 hours, so the cost of a doctoral degree can be well into the six-figure range. 

The good news is that by the time students get to the PhD level there are a lot of funding options — including some graduate programs that are completely funded by the university or academic departments themselves. Check out the cybersecurity scholarship guide for more specifics.

Additionally, funding in the form of research grants and other kinds of scholarships are available for students interested in pursuing cybersecurity studies. 

One example is the CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program. Administered by the National Science Foundation, PhD students studying cybersecurity are eligible for a $34,000 a year scholarship, along with a professional stipend of $6,000 to attend conferences in exchange for agreeing to work for a government agency in the cybersecurity space after the PhD program. 

Frequently asked questions about cybersecurity PhD programs

How many credits are required for a PhD in cybersecurity?

Most traditional and online cybersecurity graduate programs require a minimum number of credits that need to be completed in order to obtain a degree. On average, it takes 71 credits to graduate with a PhD in cybersecurity — far longer (almost double) than traditional master’s degree programs. In addition to coursework, most PhD students also have research and teaching responsibilities that can be simultaneously demanding and really great career preparation.

What is the core cybersecurity curriculum?

At the core of a cybersecurity doctoral program is In a data science doctoral program, you’ll be expected to learn many skills and also how to apply them across domains and disciplines. Core curriculums will vary from program to program, but almost all will have a core foundation of statistics.  

What kinds of exams are required during a PhD program?

All PhD candidates will have to take a series of exams that act as checkpoints during the lengthy PhD process. The actual exam process and timing can vary depending on the university and the program, but the basic idea is that cybersecurity PhD candidates generally have to sit for a qualifying exam, which comes earlier in the program (usually the winter or spring of the second year of study), a preliminary exam, which a candidate takes to show they are ready to start the dissertation or research portion of the PhD program, and a final exam where PhD students present and defend their research and complete their degree requirements. 

What is a doctoral dissertation?

A cybersecurity PhD dissertation the capstone of a doctoral program. The dissertation is the name of a formal paper that presents the findings of original research that the PhD candidate conducted during the program under the guidance of faculty advisors. Some example cybersecurity research topics that could potentially be turned into dissertation ideas include:
* Policies and best practices around passwords
* Ways to defend against the rise of bots
* Policies around encryption and privacy
* Corporate responsibility for employee security
* Internet advertising targeting and privacy
* The new frontier of social engineering attacks
* Operation security (OpSec) strategy and policy
* Network infrastructure and defense
* Cybersecurity law and policy
* The vulnerabilities of biometrics
* The role of ethical hacking
* Cybersecurity forensics and enforcement

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