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Graduate school for free?

ama-giama-gi Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
edited February 2009 in Graduate School
I was meeting with my academic adviser last week and he brought up graduate school, saying how most people go to graduate school for free. He said that both of his daughters did, and he got his Ph.D. without paying a nickel. I asked him what he meant and he said it's a whole other conversation and he'd tell me about it later. I was just curious if anyone on here knows maybe what he is talking about.

If this is the case, can I even look at more expensive (private and/or out-of-state) schools? Because when I think about going to grad school, I usually think that I want to go to a public in-state school because it will be more affordable.
Post edited by ama-gi on

Replies to: Graduate school for free?

  • waterloggedwaterlogged Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
    Do a search and read others questions and posts about this. If you are accepted to a PhD program, it should not cost you to go to school further. Public vs private is irrelevant.
  • apumicapumic Registered User Posts: 1,529 Senior Member
    WL's right. In most fields, a PhD should cost you little to nothing.
    For example, the school I just interviewed at would cost me, at worst, $7,500 over 5 years (including living expenses with a modest but definitely livable/comfortable lifestyle). If I get a better-than-the-bottom-of-the-barrel assistantship there, I could very well end up getting PAID to go to school above and beyond living expenses....
  • fromthesouthfromthesouth - Posts: 847 Member
    What is the difference between PHD/Masters and all that? I keep hearing that PhD's make less..can anyone elaborate on this?
  • Student35Student35 Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    I'm not sure what you mean by making less. In terms of funding? Ph.D's are usually fully funded (tuition plus stipend).

    Master's can vary from waived tuition and you pay for all other costs (living expenses, etc.) to you paying all of it out of pocket.
  • WikipedianWikipedian - Posts: 225 Junior Member
    I think he meant income.
  • G.P.BurdellG.P.Burdell User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    Whether PhD's make more or less depends on the field and career path.

    PhD programs should be free (except for fees) and you should get a modest salary to cover living expenses (varies by field and school - I've seen some as high as $32,000 per year and some as low as nothing).
  • ticklemepinkticklemepink Registered User Posts: 2,764 Senior Member
    Do some research online please. Or look in Grad School Admissions 101.

    And please do not go to grad school just because it's free. There are actually people out there who want to go for REAL reasons.
  • Accl*Mass=ForceAccl*Mass=Force Registered User Posts: 126 Junior Member
    there are opportunity costs greater than the tuition fees of attending grad school.
  • tkm256tkm256 Registered User Posts: 1,847 Senior Member
    ama-gi, I see that you posted in the Law boards that you're considering either a JD or graduate degree after you graduate, and are considering the costs of each. Professional degrees (masters, JD, MD, MBA etc.) are almost always funded mostly by the student, because schools assume the jobs you can get with them are high-paying enough to justify the cost (and they usually are). My father/uncle/cousin are lawyers, and had no difficulty knocking out the loan payments within ten years of passing the bar. Non-professional masters degrees are still difficult to find funding for, but as another poster said, it's possible to find programs that offer tuition remission in return for not-so-hard labor. In either of these cases, public schools would indeed be cheaper ($300-500 per credit hour for in-state vs. $700-900 per credit hour out-of-state or private).

    If you go for a PhD, you should not have to pay anything. You will, however, have to sell your soul for six-ish years, get it back briefly while you search for a job and then promptly hand it back over for the decade before tenure. And if your main motivation for graduate school is to land a higher paying job in the future, doctorates are not the way to go. As Newton's second law said above, those six years could be better spent working your way up the corporate ladder, acquiring property, and feeding your retirement egg.

    For what PhD's put into their studies, the pay down the road is pretty disproportionate. For example, a history PhD with five years of teaching experience in the Midwest makes circa $58k a year. That's only $5 an hour more than the amount earned by a medical lab technician (radiologist, cytotechnologist etc.) with a post-bachelor's certificate that took one year to complete. Considering that the med. tech. has a five year head-start, however, if he/she has been earning $45k a year during the time the history professor spent writing his/her dissertation and squirreling away 10% of it in CDs and savings accounts, by that point in time the med. tech. will have amassed some $50k whereas the PhD, despite a higher salary, will only have $31k (unless by some miracle he/she was able to squeeze out some savings from itty bitty stipends and TA salaries). Of course, over a very long period of time it will even out, but most people aren't that patient ;)
  • OyamaOyama Registered User Posts: 2,486 Senior Member
    Awesome post, tkm256.

    To sum it up: don't do a Ph.D. for the money/free tuition. You'll go insane trying to write a dissertation about something you don't care about.

    Pursue the Ph.D. if you're thinking about pursuing an academic position or just want to conduct research for the rest of your life. Any other benefits from that Ph.D. is just gravy, but shouldn't be expected.
  • ParAlumParAlum Registered User Posts: 439 Member
    I second the two previous posts:
    going for a doctorate is about feeling compelled to do research on a chosen area. To be competitive, this really must be a life choice decision placing research as very high on your life priorities!

    If you are not passionate about research, almost any other career/education path would be a better option-even if it costs a bit more in upfront education bills!
  • ecnerwalc3321ecnerwalc3321 Registered User Posts: 2,065 Senior Member
    Hi, I was recently accepted to an MS/PhD program (the school requires you to have an MS before getting a PhD). Do you know whether I will be supported during my MS years? In the admissions letter, it didn't say anything about financial assistance. but are these types generally funded? Thanks.
  • G.P.BurdellG.P.Burdell User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    I've seen it work both ways. You'll have to ask your department.
  • eldoboyeldoboy Registered User Posts: 263 Junior Member
    OK, so now I don't get it. If I want to get a PhD (which I thought was the highest possible degree in an area) in, lets say, physics, will I get paid more or less than a masters degree? What's the difference? If I wanted to pursue a career as a Theoretical Physicist, which one should I do? The good news for me is that apparently It's free (BTW, I'm still a high school student, so I'm kind of confused)
  • G.P.BurdellG.P.Burdell User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    Someone with a PhD in a field will do a different job than a person with an MS in a field. Who makes more depends on what those jobs are. There isn't a "best" degree, there's just a degree with more education and one with less education. The "best" degree depends on what you want to do for your career.

    For example, if you want to work as a professor, a PhD (of D.Sc or similar) is the best degree. If you want to work in industry, then a PhD might not be the best degree, a master's degree or bachelor's degree might be a better fit. In fact, if you have a degree too advanced for your field, you might have difficulty finding a job because you're overqualified (there is such a thing as too much education).

    So to solve the question of "what degree do I need?" you first figure out your intended career than work backwards to find the best degree and major for that career.

    The last thing you want to do is just start getting degrees and then checking out what jobs you can get with those degrees. That's a recipe for disaster.
This discussion has been closed.