Need Financial Aid? Consider PhD Instead of Master’s Degree in USA

We received an interesting question from Hardik Jogi through email, asking about financial aids and PhD.

Hardik asks: One of my friends currently at UC Berkeley taking PhD studies as an international student recently said that:

“International students admitted in PhD studies are fully funded by their respective departments (he is in computer science) of UC Berkeley; also, a stipend of $20,000 is given for living expenses/year.”

Is this true? If it is, then please provide me the list of requirements for admission in PhD studies at UCB. (I am in my 4th year of my bachelor studies in engineering.)

What your friend had said is 100% correct. But some students don’t get any stipend, just research assistant (RA) or teaching assistant (TA) position, which comes with in-State tuition fee privileges.

Both RA and TA will pay you from $500 to $1,500 per month. This amount is huge money for a student’s lifestyle.

How to Get into UC Berkeley?

You would need to have a profile that looks similar to your friend to get into UC Berkeley or something that looks like this:

  • 1,300+ in GRE
  • 90+ in TOEFL
  • Research experience in Bachelor’s
  • A few paper presentations in good conferences
  • Recommendation letters from well renowned professors or industry experts
  • Maybe degrees from IIT, NIT will make things much easier
  • Very good technical skills
  • Lots of interest to study, than just getting financial aid.
  • PhD is 4 to 5 years of dedication to research.

If you are planning to apply for PhD because you will get financial aid, that’s a foolish thing anyone will do. If you have that urge to study and conduct research to get doctorate degree, then go for it.

Related: The PhD Experience: What’s Involved?

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  1. Hello sir,

    So many times you told that if your long term goal is PHD then directly apply in PHD instead of MS.As per my information typically PHD takes around 4 years without MS degree.We may not get funding for 1st year but then we can expect it. My question is that if within the required time we can not complete the proposed research or it require some more time to complete it then will they provide funding for this extra duration?

    And i had heard some colleges just gives assistance ships which will not cover tuition. Then should we take the risk of applying in this colleges with limited balance in our account?

  2. Hello my name is Rohan and I have completed my 10th and 12th grades from kolkata, India.

    After that I went to the US and received my undergraduate in Computer network and Information Security Systems.

    My Gpa isn’t too high – 3.13 in my major field.

    GRE score – 1320 (Math 760, Verbal 560), analytical writing – 5.0

    I had returned to India after my undergraduate with the expectation of working for a reputed company and getting hands on experience in the IT industry. However lately I have realized that my heart lies in education and the necessity to know more… rather than just encircling my life only within 1% of the entire spectrum.

    I am applying to about 10 schools for FALL 2010. Trying to avoid Ivy league schools for my gpa is low and I most prolly will get rejected.

    although I understand that phd is about learning and less about finding grants… I surely cannot support myself financial and at the same time don’t want to feel like my life is a waste without education. Any advice will be most appreciated.

  3. Hi,

    I intend to do Ph.D in Cryptography and am deciding on which universities to apply for. Please suggest. I am a Research Assistant for the past 6 months since I graduated from BE in July 2009 from PES IT, Bangalore. I was a Research Intern for a year and a half during my BE. My aggregate is 78.9%. GRE score: verbal – 590, quant – 800, analytical writing – 3.5. Any suggestions on what all to be written to Prof.s in requisition for a research position, would be appreciated. Thanks.

  4. Hello HSB,

    I have the following queries on direct PhD after BE

    1) How is it different from the MS, PhD program?

    2) Will MS degree also be given?

    You have mentioned more than once that applying for PhD

    is different from applying for MS. So, my next question is:

    3) How is applying to PhD different?

    A few more articles on PhD would be much appreciated.

    Thank you


    1. hi sir , am doing MVSc in pathology division…. i want to go US after my masters to study PhD …so please guide me about the universities availale and financial support …………… anr GRE Score required……..

  5. Whats qualification I need for doing PhD. Of course I have my own research proposal and want to do my research on my topic.

    Is it possible?

  6. HSB

    What a wonderful analysis. just because of money people should not opt for PhD, true unless and until student has a deep desire to excel in his studies, and really obsessed with research one should not opt PhD.

    good analysis sir.

    yes you are on the dot

    keep it up



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