How Much Does A Ph.D Program Cost?

People decide to get a Ph.D. for different reasons, either for impact or career advancement. Regardless of your reason, an important thing to consider is how much does a Ph.D. cost?

Committing to pursuing a Ph.D. is no small endeavor as you will have to devote some years of your life to it. It will not only require you to devote some years of your life, but you also have to consider how you will finance it.

This raises the question, how much does a Ph.D. cost? Is it worth the price? This article will provide answers to these questions and others.

How long does a Ph.D. program take?

On average, it will take you about 8 years to complete your Ph.D. program. It can take a little less or more time.

A full-time Ph.D. program usually takes 3-4 years while a part-time takes about 6-7 years on average.

The time required to complete your Ph.D. is influenced by the school, the length of your specific program, and your ability to meet up with your school schedule.

What is the average financial cost of a Ph.D.?

As it is unwise to start an endeavor without adequate preparation and planning, it is essential to answer the question of how much a Ph.D. costs, before embarking on this intensive but rewarding exercise.

On average, a Ph.D. program in the USA cost $30,000 for a year, which amounts to a total of $240,000 for an eight years course.

As this is an average cost, there are chances that your specific program will cost less or even more.

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How much does a Ph.D. cost?

If you are considering going for a Ph.D, then knowing the cost is important. .

In this section, we will address the cost involved in getting a Ph.D. and you can afterward decide if you want it.

When you hear of cost, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Most likely, monetary. When undertaking any activity, there’s usually more than just financial cost. While financial cost is an important aspect to think about before starting a Ph.D., there are other costs outside finance.

The time cost is one major cost you have to put in mind. Three years, five years, and eight years are significant lengths of time in anyone’s life. Moreover, Ph.D. is a very demanding exercise and you will have to attend classes, do homework and submit it before deadlines.

This can be time-consuming and could cause you to miss family or personal time. 

Pursuing a Ph.D. may mean you can’t do some things you love because of insufficient time.

Another important cost you should consider is opportunity cost.

Ph.D. involves remarkable time investment. A full-time Ph.D. student may not be able to keep a full-time job unless it is related to the Ph.D. program being pursued. On the other hand, part-time Ph.D. students can continue working full-time.

You might think a part-time student will fare better with full-time employment, but research has shown that over 60% of Ph.D. part-timers did not complete their Ph.D. program.

How much does a Ph.D. cost by country?

How much a Ph.D. cost differs from country to country.

Pursuing a self-funded Ph.D. in some countries like Australia, Singapore, the United States, and Hong Kong among others is very expensive.

However, there are also countries including Norway, Greece, Iceland, Denmark, and Poland that offer free Ph.D. programs. Yes, you read that right. Free! You should check them out.

For Self-funded Ph.D. students in the  United State, tuition is between $28,000 to $40,000 while the amount is considerably lower in the UK.

Students who are residents pay about 3,800 – 7,670 U.S. dollars in the U.K., while students from other countries pay an average of $23,000 per year.

Some subjects are more costly than others, with STEM subjects being the most expensive and arts being the cheapest. Checking your school and the specific program will provide a precise estimate of the cost you will incur.

At the same time, Ph.D. students in Germany do not pay any tuition except a nominal semester fee of 320 U.S. dollars.

Providing information on only tuition will not adequately answer the question – how much does Ph.D. cost?

To undertake a Ph.D. program, tuition is just one of the many costs involved. If you consider only tuition, you may be in for a rude shock as there are other expenses that when totaled can be as much as half your tuition or even more.

So, how much does a Ph.D. cost? To satisfactorily answer this, there are some other elements to consider. They include:

  • Living cost
  • Travel
  • Research support fee
  • Overtime fee

Living cost

Besides tuition, living cost is another thing that will cost a substantial amount of money. Your living cost will be determined by your location. Livings expenses do not only differ among countries but it varies from state to state even within a country.

Studying in major cities will result in higher pay for rent, utility bills, and transport compared to rural areas.

The living cost for students in the USA is between $10,000 to $18,000 yearly. Accommodation, transport, feeding, textbooks, and recreation are covered in the living cost.

Keep in mind that this estimate may be way higher for Ph.D. students.

Your university of choice and its specific location will determine how high or low your living cost will be.


Although tuition and living cost accounts for the major cost of a Ph.D., there are other costs to consider. Travel is another cost you will need to factor into your preparation for pursuing a Ph.D.

Part of the requirements to complete your degree may include attending conferences, and workshops, undergoing an internship, or affiliating with specific professional bodies.

These activities most times may be outside your university’s city, state, or even country.

If you are a self-funded or partially funded student, you may have to cover your travel expenses yourself.

Costs cannot be estimated as they will be unique for every student depending on the school, supervisor, and project.

If you are an international self-funded student, you should also consider your travel costs from your country to your school’s location.

Research support fees

Another cost to put into consideration is a research support fee. The cost of research is usually included in tuition for most universities.

However, you may be required to pay a research support fee, also known as a bench fee if your research demands the use of a lot of equipment, facilities, or other resources.

This fee mostly pertains to STEM courses and it accounts for the high cost of most STEM courses.

Research support fee varies not just between different programs but on a project basis. You can contact your admission’s office or department to get precise information on the cost if applicable.

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Overtime fee

When you start a Ph.D. program, you are expected to finish within a stipulated timeframe. If you are unable to conclude within this time, your university will give you an extension.

However, you will be required to pay a fee for the extension known as the overtime registration fee. Also, the fee is decided by the individual university.

For a self-funded international student, another cost you should factor in is health insurance.

Benefits of Getting a PhD

How much does a Ph.D. cost? Now you know the cost and you may be wondering what benefits come with these great costs. There are several advantages attached to getting a Ph.D. degree.

However, if you want to get a Ph.D. degree for a short-term reward, you may want to reconsider that, as the benefits are long-term.

Some benefits of pursuing a Ph.D. include:

  • Free tuition
  • Career advancement
  • Highly valued by employers
  • Personal fulfillment

Free tuition

Although the cost of getting a Ph.D. is high, most students go through their Ph.D. programs tuition-free and some also get an extra income for living costs. Imagine getting such valued knowledge and experience for free or relatively free.

If you’re passionate about getting a Ph.D. and you’re convinced about it, then it’s worth considering.

Career advancement

Career advancement is another advantage of getting a Ph.D degree. Starting at an entry-level job might not make any difference in pay between you and a masters’ graduate.

As a Ph.D. holder, however, you will have more opportunities for promotion which will influence salary increase and other benefits.

Highly valued by employers

Several qualities have been identified as highly valued by employers of Ph.D. holders both within and outside the academia.

Some of the qualities include diligence, discipline, focus, research and presentation skills, and the ability to work effectively under pressure.

Most of these qualities are built when pursuing a Ph.D. as a result of the rigorous training.

Personal fulfillment

If you’re enthusiastic about a career in academia, then there is a personal fulfillment that comes with getting your Ph.D. degree as you’re a step closer to your dream.

Moreover, a career in academia affords you a flexible work schedule, unlike regular 9 to 5 jobs. Another advantage to this is students’ break means a break for you as well.

The free time allows you to engage in other things that are important to you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely yes! The advancement of technology in the world today has made it possible to earn a Ph.D. degree via distance learning.

A part-time Ph.D. program takes between 5 and 8 years to complete your degree.

Capital YES! Amazing right? Countries like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and some others offer Ph.D. programs for free.

Looking for the cheapest country for your Ph.D.? With little or no tuition in most of their universities, Germany is your best bet. Moreover, there are a lot of government grants for Ph.D. students.

A part-time Ph.D. program usually charges approximately half of the full-time cost. On the surface, this may seem like a gain. However, part-time PhDs mostly run for twice the time of full-time, so eventually, it’s about the same cost for tuition.


Are you thinking, how much does a Ph.D. cost? One important thing you need to know is that there are other costs outside finance. So be sure to put everything in perspective as you make your decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree.

Having answers to how much Ph.D. costs will aid you in planning for your Ph.D. funding and may make a difference in where you decide to study for your Ph.D.



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