Best Countries with the Highest PhD Stipends

Are you planning to do a PhD abroad and wondering where your help for funding can come from? Little wonder you are searching for the “Countries with the highest PhD stipends or which countries pay PhD students the best salaries”? Whichever one you searched for that brought you here, you are at the right place.

Norway in recent times, with an average PhD stipend of $54,000 is the country with the highest salary for PhD students and the stipends in Norway have contributed to Norway’s reputation as one of the cheapest countries to do a PhD.

Well, it is also noteworthy that it is not only the stipend amount that contributes to the choice of PhD study destination, other factors such as how easy to get PhD admission, affordable cities to live in, cheap universities, and the qualities of PhD programs are just a few factors to consider.

To highlight the importance of PhD stipends for doctorate research, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which is the highest financier of PhD research students in June 2022, announced that it would increase the minimum stipends by 2.9% for the 2022/2023 academic session.

This is to ensure that the recent rise in the inflation rate does not impact doctorate research negatively. Continuing your higher education as a master’s student can be a wonderful idea and probably a necessity if your PhD stipend is amazing especially at the universities with high PhD stipends to assist their students.

In this regard, to your advantage, we have listed these ten countries with high PhD stipends to ease your decision-making for the countries with the highest PhD stipend in the world where you would love to pursue your doctoral studies at a low cost.


Related: How To Negotiate a Higher PhD Stipend

What are PhD Stipends?

A PhD stipend is a specific income that graduates or professionals who are studying a doctoral program receive. A PhD stipend serves as a compelling means of financial assistance for doctoral students, encompassing living expenses, tuition, and research costs throughout their scholarly pursuit.

What is the difference Between a PhD Stipend and a PhD Salary?

A clear difference exists between a PhD stipend and a PhD salary in terms of their intended purposes. A stipend is meant to provide financial support for your living expenses while you focus on your academic studies and research. In contrast, a PhD salary is meant to compensate you for the work you perform, similar to that of a regular employee.

Moreover, the source of funding for these two types of financial support differs. Generally, a stipend is awarded through teaching or research assistantships, as well as fellowships provided by the university. On the other hand, a PhD salary is obtained through direct employment by the university in a specific role, such as a research assistantship with specific duties and responsibilities.

There is also a difference in terms of taxation. Depending on your location, a stipend may be exempt from taxes or subject to a lower tax rate. On the other hand, a PhD salary is subject to the usual income tax deductions. The key difference between a PhD stipend and a PhD salary lies in their purpose and tax implications:

PhD Stipend:

  • Purpose: Financial support to help cover living expenses while you focus on your studies and research.
  • Funding source: Often comes from teaching or research assistantships awarded by the university or through fellowships.
  • Taxation: This may be tax-free or taxed at a lower rate depending on your location and specific situation.

PhD Salary:

  • Purpose: Compensation for work performed, similar to a traditional employee salary.
  • Funding source: Typically comes from being directly employed by the University for a Specific Role, such as a research assistant with dedicated tasks.
  • Taxation: Subject to regular income tax deductions.

In essence, a stipend is like a scholarship that helps you afford to be a student, while a salary is earned through work performed as part of your doctoral program.

See: How To Win Fully Funded PhD Scholarships Abroad

Types of PhD Stipends

There are three main types of stipends and wages for PhD students around the world. Some PhD students are salaried employees, some are not.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs)

Graduate teaching assistantships (GTA) are widely provided stipends for PhD students all around the world. However, the coverage of these stipends can differ. In return for the stipend, you will be responsible for helping with the teaching of one or more courses for a certain period of time. This entails various tasks such as assessing student tutorials, overseeing laboratory experiments, and offering assistance to undergraduate students during designated office hours. Additionally, there is a possibility that you may have to teach a portion of the course independently.

Research Assistantships

In research assistantships, you assist a professor in a department with their research and receive a stipend in return. It would be great if the professor you collaborate with is also your supervisor for your PhD, and the research you help with is connected to your own doctoral project.

Stipend via Studentship

A stipend refers to a form of financial aid given to doctoral students without the need for repayment. It is intended to assist students in financing their studies. While studentships cover the costs of tuition fees, stipends are specifically allocated to cover the living expenses of PhD students. This includes expenses such as rent, food, bills, and necessary travel. Unlike Graduate Teaching or Research Assistantships, stipends typically do not entail additional duties. The only requirement to receive a stipend is to ensure consistent progress in your degree program.

How Much is PhD Salary Worth?

The annual PhD salary might vary greatly, from $17,000 in New Zealand to $104,000 in Austria. PhD students may get not just financial compensation but also extra benefits such as health insurance, free housing, or childcare services.

The amount you’ll require is highly dependent on the cost of living in any given nation. Among the countries with the greatest living cost ratio are Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

Factors to consider for PhD stipends

When considering a PhD stipend, several factors should be taken into account. These factors have been treated in our previous post – Top 10 Factors Influencing PhD Stipend Amounts. Here is a summary.

  1. Cost of Living

An all-important factor when choosing a stipend anywhere in the world should be the cost of living, such as food, accommodation, transportation, entertainment, and educational costs. Knowing the cost of living anywhere to the smallest detail can help you strategically balance your stipend and also save, and then get an education.

  1. Industry Top-ups

Several countries provide the option for PhD students to boost their stipend by engaging in industry work. In these countries, there are numerous chances for students to collaborate with companies in their respective fields, hence supplementing their stipends. Engaging in such industry work not only grants students real-life exposure but also allows them to establish meaningful connections that can greatly benefit their academic and professional growth.

  1. PhD Study Durations

The duration of the PhD program should be considered when choosing a PhD country with a high stipend. This matters because, some stipends are summed up for the PhD program, not based on the number of years. So the lesser the duration of the program, the more valuable the stipend. Students are advised to look for countries with the highest PhD stipends in Europe as a PhD is a fixed-term contract for 3-4 years in most European countries.

  1. Terms and Conditions of the Stipend

Check the terms and conditions of the PhD stipends before accepting it. Certain stipends impose restrictions on students, prohibiting them from pursuing other employment, therefore greatly limiting their ability to generate income on a full-time basis. In contrast, several other institutions do not impose any limitations on their doctoral students, even when they are granted a full scholarship.

See: Types of PhD Funding: Scholarships, Fellowships, Assistantships & Grants

10 Countries Offering Highest PhD stipends in the World

Countries with the Highest PhD StipendsDoctoral students have always faced the common issue of doing their research and managing their funds together. As a result, several countries have found a way to solve this problem by offering high PhD stipends.

Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Israel, and the Netherlands are a few countries that offer huge PhD stipends, which are quite a substantial source of income for students pursuing a PhD. To check the average cost of living in these countries, we used Numbeo while Glassdoor and Fastepo were used to check the average PhD stipends. Below is a full list of the top 10 countries with the highest PhD stipends in the world.

  1. Norway
  2. Denmark
  3. Switzerland
  4. Finland
  5. Sweden
  6. Netherlands
  7. Austria
  8. France
  9. Germany
  10. Israel

Let us look at these countries exhaustively and see why they made our list of the countries offering the highest PhD stipends in the world. To be able to do this we will look at two main issues that determine the overall worth of the PhD stipend – The average PhD stipend and the average living cost. These two factors will help us determine the PhD Stipend to living cost ratio in each country.

  1. NorwayCheapest Countries to Study A PhD Degree - Norway

Key Points on Norway

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $54,935
  • Average Living Cost: $32,520
  • PhD Stipend to Living cost Ratio: 1.69

Norway tops the list of countries with the highest PhD stipends in Europe and the world as it is one of the best choices you can make for PhD studies. PhD students in Norway receive a monthly stipend of over $54,900 without tax and with just a little over $32,000 in average cost of living expenses. Therefore, the living cost ratio is 1.69. With this, international PhD students in Norway can save some money while managing their stipends frugally.

Like in Sweden, PhD studies in Norway are considered full-time employment which leaves the candidates with salaried positions all through their studies in Norway. While on the course of the PhD in Norway, you can get permanent residency after 3 years of residence in Norway.

Doctoral studies in Norway come at no tuition cost, just as in Estonia and Norway is one of the countries with the best quality of life. All these contribute to why Norway is regarded among the countries with the easiest PhD admission and also the cheapest country to study PhD.

Related: Top 12 Destinations for Postgraduate Studies

  1. Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark, Nyhavn, Scandinavia, Europe

Key Points on Denmark

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $54,636
  • Average Living Cost: $33,960
  • PhD Stipend to Living cost Ratio: 1.61

Among the European countries with the highest PhD salary is Denmark. The salary level for PhD positions is comparable to that of the general labor market. This is because PhD fellows are treated the same as other employees and therefore may not be paid less.

Danish PhD scholarships are fully funded, which means that students receive a monthly stipend to meet living expenses in Denmark during their doctoral studies. A PhD student in Denmark receives an average stipend of $54,600 annually. This is between $5,000 and $10,000 per month with a higher living expense cost (a little under $34,000) than Norway. This invariably lowers the PhD Stipend to Living cost Ratio to 1.61 compared to 1.69 in Norway.

In addition, Denmark provides an Industrial PhD option for those interested in conducting a research project focused on commercial perspectives. Denmark is renowned for its exceptional academic programs and high quality of life, providing international students with an ideal combination of educational excellence and a comfortable living environment. In all, Denmark is a good option if you are looking for the best country with a high PhD stipend.

  1. Switzerland

Easiest Schools to get PhD Admissions in SwitzerlandKey Points on Switzerland

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $53,434
  • Average Living Cost: $37,656
  • PhD Stipend to Living cost Ratio: 1.42

In third place in our list of highest PhD stipends countries in the world is Switzerland, where PhD students can count on a monthly stipend valued between $4,000 to $5,000, depending on the program and the institution where they study. The requirements for admission are rigorous and some programs may even require you to have already obtained a master’s certificate beforehand.

PhD candidates in Switzerland are relieved from worrying about the tuition fees and if they choose a program that grants a high stipend value, they may also be able to focus solely on their studies and research. One of the advantages of pursuing a PhD in Switzerland is the opportunity to secure a full-time position as a paid research assistant, junior researcher, or doctoral fellow.

Related: Top Universities to Study PhD in Switzerland

  1. Finland

Finland Credit:


Key Points on Finland

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $35,388
  • Average Living Cost: $26,148
  • PhD Stipend to Living cost Ratio: 1.35

Finland is renowned worldwide as an extraordinary sanctuary for PhD students. The country stands out for its remarkably generous stipends that surpass those offered in other parts of the globe. This unparalleled financial support not only eases any financial worries but also allows these dedicated researchers to fully dive into their studies without unnecessary stress.

See: How To Apply For Doctoral Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide

Finland is proud to possess an impressive education system that consistently nurtures outstanding scholars. In addition to this, Finnish culture deeply appreciates innovation, creating a supportive environment for aspiring doctoral researchers to explore innovative ideas and push the boundaries of knowledge.

Located amidst stunning natural landscapes, Finland provides an idyllic and peaceful setting that serves as a constant source of inspiration for those embarking on their doctoral research journey. The harmonious combination of exceptional financial support, renowned educational institutions, a culture that values innovation, and the beauty of its surroundings makes Finland an unparalleled destination for ambitious PhD students in search of an extraordinary academic experience.

  1. Sweden

What Makes Sweden a Top Destination for Doctoral ResearchKey Points on Sweden

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $41,268
  • Average Living Cost: $31,452
  • PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio: 1.31

Sweden is regarded as a top destination for doctoral research owing to their perception of PhD programs as full-time employment. Sweden is the second Scandinavian nation after Finland on our list of countries with free PhD programs for international students. Sweden is the Scandinavian nation with the highest PhD stipend at $41,268 and the average cost of living at over $31,000.


Sweden’s strong commitment to novel research, along with its harmonious fusion of contemporary advancements and traditional practices, presents it as an incredibly enticing and greatly desired option for individuals embarking on the remarkable journey of pursuing a PhD. Additionally, graduate schools may offer a stipend of around 14,000 SEK per month to full-time or part-time PhD students for a minimum period of 6 months, as determined by an individual plan.

  1. Netherlands

The Netherlands
Credit: – The Netherlands

Key Points on the Netherlands

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $38,988
  • Average Living Cost: $20,000 – 30,000
  • PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio: 1.11

PhD researchers are appointed as staff members of the university for a period of four years with a salary starting at a bare minimum of 27,363 euros. The Dutch research system is highly respected and enjoys a good level of funding.

The Netherlands boasts a selection of esteemed universities in Europe, providing a diverse array of PhD programs. Moreover, the Dutch government provides various scholarships and grants for international students.

  1. Austria

Austrian National Flag waving in the wind in a skiing area

Key Points on Austria

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $30,408
  • Average Living Cost: $20,000
  • PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio: 1.29

Austria, known as the ‘hood’ of Europe with easy access to fast-growing regions of Italy and Switzerland in the south, as well as the political, academic and economic centre of Europe to the north, offers attractive stipend options to international students. PhD students in Austria can expect to receive about 2,300 EUR per month. This does not only give them financial stability, but also ensures a comfortable lifestyle.

With more than 50 higher education institutions, it comes as no surprise that Austria is highly regarded for pursuing a PhD. The country’s deep-rooted cultural and academic legacy presents numerous opportunities for competitive stipends, notably the University of Vienna. Austria’s strong dedication to academic brilliance and research is the driving force behind this.

  1. France

Destinations for Postgraduate Studies - FranceKey Points on France

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $23,328
  • Average Living Cost: $13,656
  • PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio: 1.07

France is a country known for its exquisite culture and progressive thinking and offers some of the most generous doctoral stipends worldwide. This financial aid attracts scholars from all around the world, as universities in France present appealing doctoral contracts that include a monthly stipend of $1,200 on average.

This support not only relieves PhD students from financial concerns but also allows them to fully focus on their research. However, France has much more to offer beyond financial assistance. It provides a thriving academic environment with prestigious research institutions. Whether in historical cities like Paris or dynamic technological hubs, France offers a wide range of diverse research opportunities. While students delve into their studies, they also have the chance to immerse themselves in the country’s lively cultural diversity.

  1. Germany


Key Points on Germany

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $29,040
  • Average Living Cost: $15,656
  • PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio: 1.17

If you are looking for a stipend to finance your doctorate, luckily several universities in Germany offer funding for all PhD students, regardless of their country of origin. Often, they will receive a contract as a research associate or a fellowship with a decent salary, at least enough to survive.

Depending on individual circumstances, the net salary can be between 1,400 and 1800 Euros per month. However, most of the funding organizations expect you to apply for a job at the university yourself or to convince a supervisor on your topic to employ you for a research project.

Germany isn’t just a great country to receive a world-class education, it’s also one of the best places to be a doctoral student. Doctoral students in Germany are even eligible to receive PhD insurance during their doctoral studies. To get the best PhD stipend, it’s better to be granted a full-time university contract. However, doing research at Helmholtz, Max Planck, or Leibniz Institute also offers a decent stipend and funding to cover conference trips.

  1. Israel

IsraelKey Points on Israel

  • Average Monthly Stipend: $33,324
  • Average Living Cost: $NA
  • PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio: 1.0

Israel, though it does not have the highest PhD stipend amounts as a result of the PhD Stipend to Living Cost Ratio provided by isphdforme, provides an enriching academic environment. PhD students often receive health insurance and other social benefits.

The presence of esteemed universities like Technion and Weizmann Institute fosters a dynamic research culture that attracts talented individuals. These research programs receive funding from government grants, universities, and private foundations.

The cost of living in Israel can be lower compared to certain European countries with expensive cities for doctoral candidates, which makes managing potentially lower stipends more feasible. The primary focus in Israel is on achieving research excellence, affording opportunities to collaborate with world-renowned scientists.

Israel’s thriving tech sector offers another dimension, with industry-funded PhD positions potentially providing higher stipends. Apart from academics, Israel offers a unique blend of history, culture, and innovation, creating a stimulating environment for living and studying. Hence, pursuing a PhD in Israel can open doors to exciting research opportunities both within the country and internationally.


If you are considering doing a PhD outside your home country to boost your employability and networking, choosing a country that offers a higher PhD stipend is always a good idea. The cost of living in these countries may be higher, but with a comfortable stipend, no rent, and cheaper insurance, you will still have enough to have a good time and save up for future endeavors. Furthermore, as a PhD student, the living cost is likely to be your biggest expense. If the stipend could cover that, it would significantly lift the financial burden on your family.


Which country pays the highest stipend?

Finding the one country with the highest PhD stipend is not an easy task because it depends on factors like living expenses and taxes. Nonetheless, certain countries consistently stand out for offering generous stipends for doctoral students. The Nordic Countries, including Norway, Denmark, and Finland, have appealing stipends that can easily cover living costs. Switzerland is also known for providing competitive stipends, although the cost of living there can be higher.

How much is a PhD stipend in the UK?

The average stipend for PhD students in the UK is between 15,000 GBP and 17,000 GBP per year, but top PhD students and PhD scholarships can see financial support reaching up to 20,000 GBP. This is just enough to cover basic living costs. Scientists can apply to different PhD scholarship schemes (individual or CDT Centre for Doctoral Training) to get a top-up bringing their stipend to 20,000 GBP.

How much is a PhD stipend in the US?

The distribution of PhD stipends varies greatly in the US depending on the institute and research field. First-year engineering and science stipends at top tier schools are generally above $45,000, while mid-tier school stipends vary widely. Humanities stipends can be lower. The National Science Foundation reported average stipends of $25,000 for engineering, $24,000 for hard sciences, and $15,000 for social sciences and humanities in 2020. Prestigious schools like Caltech, MIT, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory offer stipends ranging from $50,000 to $62,000 for physics and biology. In the US, PhD students in STEM fields typically receive stipends to cover living expenses and waived tuition.

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