Cheapest Schools In USA To Do A PhD

International students who wish to study for a doctorate in the United States are intentional about the cheapest schools in USA to do a PhD. To obtain a PhD, a student must possess not only a strong will and high ambition but also sufficient financial resources. The scarcity of financial resources is a major challenge that burdens a significant proportion of PhD students. Therefore, these students need to know where they can obtain a graduate degree without having to worry about financial problems.

Various universities throughout the world offer tuition waivers and stipends to graduate students. Others offer low in-state tuition rates for residents. The purpose of this post is to identify the cheapest schools in the USA to obtain a PhD. To make valid comparisons, only universities classified as Research Universities (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching are considered. This classification includes only doctoral/research universities which represent the highest research activity.

To truly understand “cheapest,” we must embrace an encompassing perspective on total expenditure. Focusing solely on tuition dismisses the broader scenario—a high-fee private college could be neutralized by ample aid, becoming more cost-effective than a low-tuition public institution lacking substantial assistance. If grad program length and doctorate attainment rates at a given school pique your interest, then median program duration is a key figure.

See Also: 10 Best 1-Year PhD Programs Online In Europe

Factors to Consider When Choosing a PhD Program

Choosing a program that is a good fit and that will provide a strong foundation for a future academic or professional career is a critical step in the process of obtaining a PhD. The first step to fully evaluating a program is to understand what is important to you – it might be location, cost of living, program rank, faculty/student ratio, academic rigor, the language of instruction, research intensity, available financial support, job placement record, length of the program, or a variety of other factors.

Making a list or a table of what is important to you and evaluating each program on those criteria can be a valuable tactic. Once you have narrowed your choices, a visit to possible schools can be crucial. This can help to avoid being influenced by a program’s advertising or brochures and give you a better understanding of what daily life as a graduate student would be like.

During this process it may also be important to consider if the program in question is an accredited institution, has a good history with the Better Business Bureau and does not have any awards from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, American Bar Association, American Medical Association or other professional associations taken away.

Another important consideration is the potential loss of income while in a PhD program. Typically, in the United States and other countries, a self-funded student is offered a small assistant position or research fellowship to offset the costs of tuition and living expenses. These positions can provide valuable experience and useful training, however, they may not offset the high cost of time invested in a PhD program.

Cheapest Schools In USA To Do A PhDTop 10 Cheapest Schools in USA To Do A PhD Program

With the ever-rising cost of tuition, it has become more and more difficult for students to pursue higher education and postgraduate degrees. This list of the 10 cheapest schools for a PhD in the USA is a valuable resource for budget-conscious doctoral students.

Currently, the national average for annual graduate tuition is around $15,000 in the humanities, arts, education, and behavioral sciences and about $27,000 in other fields. Note that these averages do not include secondary costs, which could bring the total to around $30,000 per year.

It is important to note that the cost of a school often reflects its geographic location, meaning that some of the better deals on this list of cheapest schools in USA for PhD programs occur in smaller towns around the country. These schools are not only cheap compared to the national average but also offer a high-quality education and overall provide good value for the student.

Related: Top 7 Cheapest Countries to Study a PhD Degree

In no distinct order, but considering the tuition fees/cost per credit unit, financial aid and other factors that aid PhD completion, here are the Cheapest Schools for PhD Programs in the USA

  1. University of Buffalo (SUNY)
  2. Brigham Young University
  3. California State University – Long Beach
  4. Minnesota State University Moorhead
  5. University of South Dakota
  6. University of Mississippi
  7. Oklahoma State University
  8. Mississippi University for Women
  9. University of North Texas
  10. New Mexico State University

Now let us learn about them in detail

#1. University of Buffalo (SUNY)

The University of Buffalo (State University of New York) is one of the cheapest universities to do a PhD in the USA for domestic students. It prides itself on offering high-quality education at a fraction of the cost of Ivy League schools. For international students, fees are a little higher, but still much more affordable than at most institutions. Off-campus housing in Buffalo is typically around $300-$600 per month, and it is often possible to find shared accommodations.

Consistently ranked in the top 100 US universities by the QS World Universities Ranking, the university offers 84 PhD programs at the resident tuition rate of $9,180 per year. Over 14,000 students from 50 states and 115 countries pursue their academic interests at the University at Buffalo. You too can be a part of $160 million invested in research, study with some of the best minds in your field, and take advantage of the more than 1,000 ways the university connects to business, industry, and the community, either as a full-time or part-time student.

Full-time students often receive funding in the form of teaching or research assistantships while taking part in such activities. Take your academic and professional career to the next level by exploring these tremendous opportunities.

#2. Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah is one of the cheapest schools in the USA for PhD program and equally a great school to enter for a PhD. All students at the university, regardless of where they are from, pay $2140 per semester ($4280 per year). At the time of writing, this is the same as the in-state tuition for most public universities.

One advantage of BYU over a public school or any other private school is that tuition is the same for residents and non-residents of Utah. This makes it the cheapest private school in the US for a PhD. BYU also has a great reputation as a school that provides a great environment for learning. BYU is not a research university, but with the cheap tuition, it is still a great place to study because the education is very good.

Related: Cheapest PhD Programs in Chemistry in Sweden

#3. California State University – Long Beach

Ranked amongst the cheapest schools for PhD programs in the USA, California State University is a top university that is recognized as the best value and ranked at the top of US schools for combining the quality of education with economic value. With fees of only $7,000 for in-state and less than $15,000 for out-of-state residents, CSU is an attractive option for Californians wanting to advance their educations.

The university’s international programs are top-rated and are a great option for foreign students looking to get a PhD or their undergraduate degrees. With over 60 different PhD programs and 100 different master’s programs, CSU has something for everyone. There are also departmental assistantships offered to students that involve teaching and learning aids.

#4. Minnesota State University Moorhead

The fourth on our list of Cheapest colleges in USA to do a PhD is the Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM). It is also rated amongst the cheapest public universities in the USA for doing a PhD. The tuition fee for the entire PhD program is less than $12,000 for residents and $20,000 for non-residents. The university offers tuition fees at the same rate for the entire PhD duration.

Minnesota State University has a wide variety of online and campus courses. If you have family and work, you can still pursue your online PhD. You can even take a few campus courses while enrolled in an online course when suitable. Their Psychology department is known for quality education and experienced faculties. This would be a perfect choice to do a PhD in Psychology for those looking for a degree from a US university at the lowest possible cost.

#5. University of South Dakota (USD)

The University of South Dakota is a public research university located in Vermillion, South Dakota. It is considered to be the state’s oldest university and has a long reputation for being an academic pillar of the Midwest. The University of South Dakota is ranked #269 in the US News & World Report Universities ranking 2024 edition of Best Colleges, specifically in the category of National Universities.

The school of USD provides students with many graduate programs at an affordable price. The average cost of tuition for a graduate credit hour is set at $231.85, which applies to both in-state and out-of-state graduate students. This is extremely affordable and is quite worthy of the education that the students will receive.

#6. University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi is rated as the 12th best affordable college in the USA according to affordableschools. The doctoral programs at UM include fields of study in English, Mathematics, Chemistry, and History and a host of others. The University of Mississippi offers competitive levels of financial support including stipends, tuition waivers, and subsidized graduate health insurance and equally provides generous levels of research and travel funding on a case-by-case basis.

The most meritorious funding, which includes PhD stipends, tuition plus health insurance, is for 12 months and amounts up to $15,928 for MA students ($13,660 plus tuition and health insurance) and $32,208 for PhD students.

Related: Easiest Countries to Get PhD Admission

The cost is $4,360.50 for in-state students and $6,004.50 for out-of-state students taking nine hours or more. Students taking less than nine hours will be charged $438.50 per semester hour. The exact fees for full-time students range from $1,751.50 to $2,002.50. These approximate fees are charged equally for in-state and out-of-state students.

#7. Oklahoma State University

Located on a 900-acre campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University is a doctoral degree-granting public research land-grant university. It offers more than 300 graduate programs and students in the PhD programs benefit from working closely with an internationally recognized faculty who is engaged in cutting-edge research.

Oklahoma State University is one of the cheapest universities in the United States for international students studying PhD. In the fall of 2013, they did away with the non-resident fee for out-of-state students. This makes the cost of tuition at OSU about $2000 per semester, a fraction of the total costs at a majority of U.S. universities. On top of that, the School of Entrepreneurship, which resides in the Spears School of Business, gives out Doctoral Assistantships to full-time PhD students.

These assistantships are paid, meaning students are essentially paid to go to school. These assistantships give students a stipend of $20,000-25,000 annually. They do, however, require students to work 20 hours a week for the school. This is a great way for students to get business experience on top of their degree.

#8. Mississippi University for Women

Mississippi University for Women is one of the most affordable schools in the country for a PhD. Tuition for all PhD programs is $1635 per semester making it count in our list of cheapest schools for postgraduate studies in the USA. MUW occupies a significant place in the history of higher education for women in America and is the only public university in the country to grant baccalaureate and higher degrees exclusively to women.

Mississippi University for Women (MUW) is an institution especially dedicated to offering professional education in the fields of health, education, management, leadership, public programs, and arts and sciences preparing the students to be more responsible and competent as a faculty, leader, administrator, and teacher.

#9. University of North Texas

Located in the city of Denton, the University of North Texas is a public institution which was established in 1890, making it one of Texas’s oldest universities. The university offers doctoral programs in everything from Educational Psychology to Visual Arts. The graduate tuition for out-of-state students is $9,624 and $3,043 for in-state students. So, for students who seek a quality education with an affordable price tag and value a college town experience and UNT’s 1,000-acre campus, this is a school to check out.

The University of North Texas offers several forms of financial assistance to help you cover the costs of pursuing a graduate doctoral degree. The primary types of awards available are teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships. Although UNT also has a limited number of tuition scholarships, teaching and research assistantships more commonly, they offer full or partial tuition waivers and a stipend. These forms of employment are also beneficial in that they provide students with valuable work experience related to their fields of study.

#10. New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University has also a very low cost for PhD programs, hence the inclusion in the cheapest schools for PhD programs in the USA. This university is located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It serves over 16,000 students and has a very active international student organization. They offer PhD programs in several departments: Educational Leadership and Administration, Mathematics, Computer Science, and many more.

The average cost for in-state tuition is $2,842, and the school offers up to $21,300 annually in assistantship and fellowship offers. The university has well-respected, research-driven faculty and up-to-date resources for each program. New Mexico State also offers tuition discounts to students from the Western Regional Graduate Program member states. Students from WICHE PSEP states may be eligible for the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) award. This is another excellent opportunity for an additional assistantship or fellowship.

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