Financing of PhD programmes at US varsities (Part I)

Amount, type of financial aid varies by field of study, university

By Author  |  Monika Setia   |  Published: 15th Sep 2019  12:13 amUpdated: 14th Sep 2019  11:27 pm

Welcome back readers! Today we will continue our discussion on PhD programmes at US universities and talk about the financial aspects of the programme.

Although financial assistance offered by the universities in United States to international students is extremely competitive, PhD students get priority for funding at all universities/ departments. In most cases, PhD programmes at US universities are fully funded. However, the amount and type of financial assistance offered varies by department, college, university, background and experience of the candidate, and field of the study.

Financial support to PhD students is usually available in the form of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship. Scholarship and fellowships are awarded based on merit and generally do not have work requirements. An assistantship, on the other hand, means that the student receives a stipend and a tuition contribution for on-campus work or research in their chosen field that can cover some portion of accommodation, meals, books and some personal expenses. The sum paid for assistantship varies by State, town, university, etc. Assistantships are available to students in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TA), Graduate Assistantships (GA), and/or Research Assistantships (RA) wherein students help their departments with teaching, research, both teaching and research, or other department/college work.

Students may look up the department/college webpage or contact the department for further information about funding options. If a department/college offers assistantships, fellowships, or scholarships, students may apply for them during their application or after admission. Faculty pages on the department website are another good source to identify faculty research grants. Additionally, students may find the following websites useful during their application process to search for fellowships and scholarships:,,

As also mentioned in an earlier column, most international students in the United States go on an F-1 (Non-Immigrant) student visa. On an F-1 visa, a student is eligible to work only on the campus of their university. Immigration laws of the United States do not allow international students to work off-campus during their studies. On-campus work opportunities are also limited to upto 20 hours per week during the academic semester and upto 40 hours per week during school breaks. Also, please take note that students are eligible for on-campus employment only while they are enrolled for full-time in an academic programme.

– Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at US – India Educational Foundation, based at the US Consulate General, Hyderabad)


1. What should one do if he/she loses a passport while studying in a US university? How can he/she get it back? – Shalini Kumar

Loss of passport should be immediately reported to the Indian mission (Embassy/Consulate) nearest to your city in the United States. You may then apply for re-issue of the passport. Please contact the ‘Consular, Passport, and Visa Division’ of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India for further details regarding re-issuance of passport

Please refer to the following website for information on reporting your lost student visa, requesting replacement of the I-94 form, and applying for a replacement US visa:

Q2. I want to do an MBA from a US university. Is the GMAT a requirement to apply for an MBA? – Nikhil Krishna

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized assessment designed to predict how applicants for MBA programmes and other business-related graduate degrees will perform academically. The scores from standardized tests are used by admissions officials of universities to predict your academic performance in a graduate programme and make admission decisions. You should check the websites of chosen universities to determine if the GMAT is required as part of the application for the MBA programme at the institution and accordingly prepare and register for the test. Increasingly, many business schools also accept the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) standardized test.

Each graduate business school develops and implements its own policy concerning the use of GMAT scores in making admissions decisions. Many schools select students by combining GMAT scores and undergraduate GPA. Moreover, admissions officials may consider subjective factors such as work and other relevant experience, recommendation letters, application essays (personal statements), and reports of personal interviewers.

Q3. My daughter is studying in 11th grade and we are thinking about sending her to the United States for her higher studies. What are the start dates for bachelor programmes at US universities? – J. Ram Mohan

Academic intakes for bachelor’s programmes in the US vary by university. Fall and spring semesters are the two major academic intake periods. Fall semester starts in mid-August to September, at the beginning of the academic year, while the spring semester starts in January, in the middle of the academic year. A few universities only offer a fall semester intake while others offer both fall and spring semester intakes. It is important that students check the university website for admission periods offered and respective application deadlines before they start working on their applications.


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