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PLEASE give me an answer - Do most PhD students get a tuition waiver/stipend?

sic_infitsic_infit Posts: 564Registered User Member
edited November 2010 in Engineering Majors
I'm still really unclear about this. Can I count on spending 150k undergrad knowing that I will have a tuition waiver in graduate school? If this were true, it would make sense for every engineer to get their PhD, so what am I missing?

And what does it take to get a tuition waiver/stipend?
Is it GPA, research, and letters of recommendation?

Would it make sense to pay 150k for these undergraduate engineering programs in order to get into a good graduate program (like Stanford):
-MIT, Columbia, Northwestern, Duke, Rice, Princeton, Cornell, Vanderbilt, JHU?

or to go to my state school (Connecticut) for reduced tuition?
Post edited by sic_infit on
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Replies to: PLEASE give me an answer - Do most PhD students get a tuition waiver/stipend?

  • PurdueEEPurdueEE Posts: 705Registered User Member
    If you have to pay for graduate school it is not worth going. I do not know of a single engineering student who paid for graduate school. You will perform research for the university and work as a TA. Some schools will offer larger stipends to their most well qualified students.

    And was mentioned before, no it really doesn't make sense to spend an additional $150K on an undergraduate education just because you think it might give you an edge in going to graduate school. Will it help? Probably, it won't hurt. Will it provide $150K worth of help? No.

    I'm assuming you to be an 18 year old; I'm sure the $150K is just some number for you. Perhaps its a number that is your parents' concern. However, it's much, much more than a number. Consider some of the things you could do with that $150K upon graduation:
    - Buy a car in full
    - Put a down payment down on a house
    - Take a very nice vacation
    - Furnish said house
    - Buy a boat/jet-ski/etc

    Depending on where you end up, you could do all of these things. Or you can pay back student loans every month (or just get nothing at all if your parents have you covered). When you get to this point in your life you will be wishing you had the $150K.

    I know someone who went to a school most people on here have never heard of and would probably call bad but yet managed to get into some good schools for his PhD. How well you do and what you do will be a much, much larger deciding factor. Someone who coasts through MIT will never have a shot of getting into Stanford but someone who works hard and gets involved at University of LowRanking will.
  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry Posts: 837Registered User Member
    Are you even in college yet? If not don't worry about grad school until Sophomore/Junior year, eventually what you want to do will be more clear as time goes on.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Posts: 564Registered User Member
    No I am not in college yet, but I look ahead. And its definetley helpful for people to plan beforehand, I need to know how much my graduate school costs are going to be before deciding which colleges to pay for an how much. It doesn't matter that I'm not in college yet, more people should do the same thing and actually think about their future instead of blindly spending for college tuition.
  • hadsedhadsed Posts: 738Registered User Member
    If you have good enough grades, you probably will be funded one way or another. If your grades aren't good... well you probably wouldn't get into graduate school in the first place. This is for PhD though, master's degrees are different.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Posts: 564Registered User Member
    Thanks for the responses guys, you are really helping me out with planning. How do master's degrees work though, does it take less time to complete & can you have tuition waived?
  • Johnson181Johnson181 Posts: 4,131Registered User Senior Member
    The chances of tuition being waived for a masters program are VERY slim. However, they only take 1-2 years.
    Personally, I'm currently thinking about doing the BS-MS at my school... and I can finish both in 9 semesters because I've overloaded a lot (so that's only 1 additional semester of tuition to get my masters completed).

    But as other's have said, you're looking too far into the future for this. You can plan all you want, but I can guarantee you that those plans will most likely change. As a junior I still don't know 100% if I'm going to get my master's or not (I've got a full semester to even decide if I want to apply... and I don't have to accept the offer until the end of my senior year anyway).

    And to reiterate- a PhD program is NOT worth it if you have to pay. You should be getting a stipend/tuition waiver. If you're not, you shouldn't be in grad school.
  • sic_infitsic_infit Posts: 564Registered User Member
    Thanks Johnson181, but a question to you all - why is it that I CAN'T plan into the future too far? I am sure I want to do a PhD for engineering, you learn more, earn more, and can do more, and with free tuition its like why not?
  • Johnson181Johnson181 Posts: 4,131Registered User Senior Member
    1) for the most part, you actually don't earn more with a PhD. It's just a different type of work that you can do (mainly research/teaching). The engineers I know in industry make a lot more than your typical professor - and it should be noted that with a PhD you'll be overqualified for a lot of industry positions.

    2) As a high school student, you probably don't even know what engineering really is. I thought I would like it (my family is riddled with engineers), and I was lucky that I was right. But there are TONS of students who enter engineering only to realize that it's not for them.

    3) Let's just say that engineering is right for you. How do you even know that you'll like research? There was a period of time where I was "sure" I wanted to get a PhD in engineering... only to later learn that I cannot stand academic research... and changed my major in the process (one type of engineering to another).

    No one's saying that you can't plan into the future. There's nothing wrong with planning. You just don't want to get caught up in it and think it's the be all end all. You're probably a bit ocd like me- I always have a general layout for the next few years academically. So I think everyone's just telling you to relax a bit and focus on getting into undergrad first :)
  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry Posts: 837Registered User Member
    Well first of all you have yet to take an engineering class so you dont even know if you will like it and if it will be something you want to do for the rest of your life. And an engineering Ph.D does not guarantee you will get paid more, in many cases you will actually get paid less than an experienced engineer with just a BS or MS. In fact, a Ph.D makes you so specialized many companies may be hesitant to hire you for a traditional engineering position. But more importantly a Ph.D is a huge commitment, its 4 to 6 years and you may not realize it right now but as an adult there are many expenses to deal with and a Ph.D stipend is not very much.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Posts: 3,261Registered User Senior Member
    OP - I think most people are warning you against planning too far ahead for the simple reason that so so many people change their interests while in school. There is no way to predict this - many very talented and very self-assured people find out in college that they would prefer NOT to do grad school, despite earlier aspirations.

    As far as funding goes, PhD's in engineering and the hard sciences are usually funded - the highest tier of schools will not accept anyone they cannot fund, and even at lower schools most PHD candidates will be funded. One exception is that some schools will offer reduced funding (or none) until you have passed your candidacy exam around your 3rd or 4th semester, but that is the exception, not the rule.

    Masters funding is trickier. A masters degree taken during a PhD program will usually be funded the same as the PhD - this is why it is generally recommended that you do both in the same place. A masters degree on its own (no PhD-track) will rarely be funded, with the exception of those few schools that do not offer a PhD in the field - they may fund some or even a majority of their students. Many engineering graduates unable to secure a funded position simply take a position at an engineering firm that will pay for the masters degree.

    So... Concentrate on doing well in your undergrad and see where you wind up, and only worry about undergrad debt. If you are unable to secure funding for grad school in engineering, you probably should consider another path anyway (you can certainly rule out academia!).
  • sic_infitsic_infit Posts: 564Registered User Member
    I'm getting more and more confused now. A PhD does not help your wage? Call me greedy, but I have dreams of doing stuff that a 60 grand wage for the rest of my life will not cut. What is the point then, of getting a PhD? Can you actually do more at least?
  • EnginoxEnginox Posts: 828Registered User Member
    The point of getting a Ph.D. is doing independent and original research. Obtaining a Ph.D. does not necessarily lead to a higher salary. The salary of a Ph.D. holder will be dependent on where that person ends up working; in academia, somewhere around $100k to $200k; in industry (any, all industries), from $100k to $400k and even more, depending on bonuses, type of job, blah blah blah...

    A Ph.D. is required for Research & Development jobs; the downside is that R&D funding is one of the first to be cut when sales are down, unless that R&D promises big returns on investment. The bright side is that Ph.D.s are rarely unemployed, because demand for their skills is a bit higher than the supply. But, again, Ph.D.s are not going to be making the big bucks; if you really want to make big bucks, you need to go into sales/finance.
  • viciouspoultryviciouspoultry Posts: 837Registered User Member
    If you want a lucrative career then a Ph.D is the last thing you want, unless you use it to invent something useful, or use it as way to offer consultation in industry. But with industry consultation experience is probably more important than a Ph.D.
  • starbrightstarbright Posts: 4,660Registered User Senior Member
    What is the point then, of getting a PhD? Can you actually do more at least?

    It might be hard to imagine yet, but many people, especially after some work experience, care a lot about the nature and quality of their work life, and it is not just about the most money. For those pursuing a PhD, they are doing so because they enjoy the intellectual challenge of research and teaching. While they may not be rich, they aren't exactly taking a vow of poverty either. I just looked it up: the engineering faculty at the public university at which I teach are earning around 130-140k. And there are wonderful perks with academic careers, such as the freedom to craft your own workday, the autonomy to choose your own problems to solve, flexibility in terms of when you work, as well as world travel and lots of cool technology courtesy of research grants. Of course, a PhD can be a longhaul, and the pre-tenure years can be a long stressful road, but it is a great career for some people.

    Although you receive a tuition waiver and stipend as a PhD student, keep in mind what you have to do for it varies a lot from school to school. At some schools you will primarily do research - which is what you want to do if you are going into academia. At others, you will be teaching a ton of courses, serving as cheap, exploitable labor (delaying your progress out of grad school and limiting your ability to build a strong c.v.).
  • sic_infitsic_infit Posts: 564Registered User Member
    Well at this point I don't even know what research even is so I guess I'll change my mind about a PhD in engineering. I've also heard though, that people with undergraduate engineering majors have good analytical thinking skills and can go into graduate school for a lot of different things (which is why I want to do engineering at first), so what options are there usually in grad school for engineering majors?
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