Funding your Ph.D.

Funding, Scholarships & Financial Aid

Funding your Ph.D.


PhD positions in the US typically come with an unstated commitment to funding. If you get in, there will be money for you - somewhere. Most likely, that will come from the grants given to the professor or principal investigator as a "research assistant" salary. In exchange, the professor will have some leverage in what research you perform, and may require you to be a teacher assistant (although that should be a separately paid position!). These arrangements are resolved individually, so there is not much left to say in general. However, having your own funding gives you leverage in the choice of professors and projects, as you will be free to take. By contrast, having your own funding is a pre-requisite for European programs, as they do not make the same promise as the US programs.


Most US funding sources cater to US residents and citizens. Specific sources may be available at universities, for example the Stanford Interdisciplinary Grad Fellowship, that are only available once you have already started studies. There are also funding sources within China for performing graduate studies abroad - you are probably more familiar with those than I am.

In short, there are a lot of competitive options available, and it is possible to write grants together with your professor. The requisite for doing that is having ideas, and executing some first low-resolution proof-of-principle experiments to support the feasibility and potential of future investigation.