Stipend Comparison for PhD programs (2017-2018) – Update

As a follow-on to a popular post in understanding how PhD stipend in each university has progressed, we have again collected stipends from top universities in the US according to USNews.

We were able to extract most of the top 15 universities in their list established this year.

First of all, before looking this deeper, we should keep in mind that the PhD student enrolled in the business sides generally get higher stipend. For instance, A PhD student in the business school at the University of Chicago receives $40000/yr compared with $31500/yr for PhD student in the chemistry/biological science in the same school. The whooping 27% difference in salary doesn’t justify for the difficulties between departments – but we should leave that discussion for another day. This discrepancy is also seen in Harvard University (as shown in orange above).

Next, we ask if we can compare the stipend at each school. To do that, we adjust each stipend to a stipend to live in Chicago according to the cost of living  supplied by the calculator found on This is what we found:

We realize that the average stipend from the list above comes out to be $30061/yr.

Next, we put this stipend level into a “are you in the US middle class calculator” provided by Pew Research.

Honestly, living on a PhD stipend with a full tuition scholarship is really not a bad idea, if you like the fact that you will be submerged in an academic-centric world for the next 5-10 years.

The differences among schools and programs indicate the differences in support for each specialty. The reality is that the business related graduate program is paid higher in general compared with other specialties. Then, it is the sciences, followed by the arts and humanities at the bottom. 

It would be great to see some changes to fix this issue. We feel that graduate students across specialities should not be treated differently. Every students should be provided with equal amount of help, including financial support. 

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