How Much Does it Cost to do a PhD in the USA?

Cost of PhD in the USA
Study Abroad Expert November 23, 2023

The United States is a premier destination for pursuing a PhD degree. It hosts globally acclaimed universities renowned for kickstarting diverse and promising doctorate careers, and opting for the cost of PhD in USA allows you to engage in impactful research alongside leading professors in your chosen field. Beyond that, the USA offers innovative experiential learning, abundant resources, and a stellar education system.

The annual cost of PhD in USA from top universities varies, ranging from USD 28,531 to USD 57,590. On average, Indian students investing in a PhD in the USA can expect to spend between 15 to 62 lakhs. The optimal application periods for this program are in August and May.

Explore the possibilities further with Shuraa Education, gaining insights into different colleges, PhD fees in the USA, living expenses, miscellaneous costs, and more.

Determinants Impacting the Total Cost of PhD in USA

Influential Factors Affecting the Total Expenses of Pursuing a PhD in the USA: 

1. PhD Tuition Fee:

The primary component of the overall cost is the tuition fee charged by the university for the PhD program.

2. Cost of Living:

Living expenses in the USA significantly contribute to the total cost. These costs vary based on your chosen location and can be high.

3. Pre-Arrival and Post-Arrival Costs:

Other essential factors influencing the overall cost of a PhD in the USA include pre-arrival costs (before reaching the USA) and post-arrival costs (incurred after arrival). These factors contribute to the comprehensive financial planning for pursuing a PhD in the USA.

Understanding a PhD

A PhD, short for Doctor of Philosophy, is an internationally acknowledged postgraduate academic achievement. Achieving a PhD entails the completion of a comprehensive thesis or dissertation, highlighting thorough and original research within the chosen field of study.

Across many nations, a PhD degree is a fundamental qualification, enabling individuals to impart knowledge at universities or serve as experts in their respective fields.

Understanding the Mechanics of PhD Programs

A Ph.D. program typically lasts three to four years and involves a student undertaking an original research project culminating in a thesis or dissertation. Program structures vary across universities. However, some necessitate submitting a publication without coursework, while others mandate both to fulfil selection criteria.

In addition to the research project, students must undergo a viva or oral presentation for their PhD assessment. This presentation occurs before examiners and fellow research students, lasting two to three hours.

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Admission Criteria for Indian Students in Ph.D. Programs

For admission to PhD programs in the USA, Indian students must meet the following prerequisites:

  • An honour’s degree
  • A master’s degree with outstanding academic achievements
  • Evidence of language proficiency in the intended study language, with IELTS or TOEFL scores required if it is English
  • Academic or employment references
  • Personal statements
  • PhD research proposals


Note: Additional admissions requirements may apply based on students’ specific program. 

Leading USA Universities for PhD Programs

Here is a compilation of top-tier universities in the USA offering PhD programs. 

Name of the University World QS Rankings 2023 Subject Wise Average Fees in USD
California Institute of Technology – Caltech 6 $58,467 (INR 48.00 Lakh)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1 $27,755 (INR 22.78 Lakh)
Stanford University 3 $98,102/year (INR 80.54
University of California, Berkeley 32 $17,799(First Semester Fee) (INR 14.61 Lakh) 

$17,674 (Continuing Semester Fee) (INR 14.51 Lakh)

Princeton University 20 $56,010 (INR 45.98 Lakh)

(an SHP Fee of $2,780 (INR 2.28 Lakh) in absentia or holding dissertation completion enrolment (DCE) status)

Columbia University 19 $25,248/ Semester (INR 20.73 Lakh)
Yale University 14 $45,700 (INR 37.52 Lakh)
University of Chicago 10 $19,662 (INR 16.14 Lakh)
Harvard University 5 $50,928 (INR 41.81 Lakh)
Johns Hopkins University 25 $ 40,000 (INR 32.84 Lakh) to $ 65000 (INR 53.36 Lakh) (varies as per chosen field)

Cost of PhD in USA Before Arrival

Before commencing your studies in the USA, you must account for the additional cost of a PhD in the USA. Below is a breakdown of pre-arrival costs that should be factored into your financial planning: 

  • Entrance Exam 
  • Flight Tickets 
  • Medical Checkup 
  • Student Visa Fees 
  • Medical Insurance 


These pre-arrival costs contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the financial aspects of pursuing a PhD in the USA.

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Let us have a look at each of the costs one by one: 

Entrance Exam

The TOEFL or IELTS exams, assessing English language proficiency, are widely recognized as part of the PhD fees in the USA for Indian students. Most colleges in the USA accept both IELTS and TOEFL. In addition to language tests, international students must complete the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT test for admission. The associated costs for these entrance exams are provided below: 

Tests Cost (in USD) Cost (in INR)
IELTS 245 20,090
TOEFL 190 15,580
GRE 205 16,810
GMAT 250 20,500

Flight Tickets

The typical duration for travel from India to the US is approximately 15 hours and 15 minutes. While flight costs from India to the USA can fluctuate depending on the chosen airline, the average ticket price typically ranges between INR 48,999 to INR 91,999.

Medical Checkup

Many U.S. universities mandate that international students provide their health policies and programs before arrival. Students should possess personal insurance coverage, especially if the university does not offer a school-sponsored plan. In addition to PhD fees in the USA for Indian students, medical checkups typically range from INR 14,500 to INR 21,000.

Student Visa Fees

The fees of obtaining a US Student Visa constitute significant pre-arrival expenses for pursuing a PhD in the USA. These costs can vary based on the specific type of US student visa and visitor category. Below are the costs for obtaining a student visa for Indian students pursuing a PhD in the USA: 

Visa Type Description Costs (in INR)
F-1 Visa Students (academic) 11,520
J-1 Visa Exchange visitors 11,520

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Medical Insurance

The expense of health insurance is another consideration in calculating the overall cost of pursuing a PhD in the USA for international students. The approximate cost for a year of health insurance falls from INR 38,000 to INR 77,000. The specific cost may vary based on the coverage level selected, and it is noteworthy that costs tend to increase significantly for older students.

Expenses After Arrival for PhD Studies in USA

The breakdown of the cost of pursuing a PhD in the USA may encompass post-arrival expenses you will incur after reaching the country. Here are some costs that you will need to address upon your arrival: 

Tuition Fees:

The tuition fees for a PhD program in the USA typically range from 28,531 USD to 57,590 USD per year. Consequently, the structure of PhD fees in the USA for Indian students ranges between INR 15 Lakhs to 62 Lakhs per year. 

Cost of Living:

Living expenses in the USA average around 1,200 USD to 2,500 USD per month. These costs include accommodation fees, room and board, food, travel, study materials, and more.

Now that we have explored both pre-arrival and post-arrival costs for international students seeking to study abroad, let us examine the overall cost of pursuing a PhD in the USA.

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Cost of PhD in USA for International Students

The overall cost of pursuing a PhD in the USA hinges significantly on tuition fees, which vary from USD 28,531 to USD 57,590 depending on factors such as the university type and specialization. 
To provide insight into the tuition fees, here it cost of some top universities and the associated PhD fees in the USA for international students.

University Name Annual Average Fees (USD) Annual Average Fees (INR)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 57,590 45.8 Lakhs
Stanford University 48,960 39.0 Lakhs
Harvard University 52,456 41.8 Lakhs
Princeton University 57,410 45.7 Lakhs
Columbia University 65,948 52.1 Lakhs
California Institute of Technology 56,364 44.9 Lakhs
University of Pennsylvania 39,838 31.7 Lakhs
Yale University 45,700 36.4 Lakhs
University of Michigan 48,542 38.6 Lakhs
John Hopkins University 57,070 45.4 Lakhs

How much does it cost to do a PhD in the USA?  

While numerous scholarships are available for PhD programs at US universities, the general cost typically ranges from $28,000 to $55,000 annually, influenced by factors like program type, specialization, and university choice.

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PhD fees in USA for Indian students

Another factor influencing the overall PhD fees in USA for Indian Students is the cost of living. On average, individuals need to allocate 10,000 to 20,000 USD per year to cover living expenses in the US.

This includes various costs such as accommodation rent, groceries, transportation, food, internet, and other miscellaneous expenses. It is important to note that these expenses may vary among students based on individual choices and lifestyle preferences.

Below is a summary of living expenses in the USA: 

Expenses Average Cost per year (in USD) Average Cost per year (in INR)
Accommodation with basic utilities 16,500 1,315,001
Food 6,500 518,030
Books and supplies 900 71,727
Electricity 750 59,772
Transportation 1,500 119,545
Dormitory housing 7,588 – 11,914 604,741 – 949,510
Food for dormitory residents 2,487 198,206
Miscellaneous 6,700 533,970

This covers the details regarding the expenses associated with pursuing a PhD in the USA. Efficient management of your finances can enhance your academic and social experiences in the country, which is renowned for its top-notch PhD programs. With comprehensive knowledge about the average cost of a PhD in the USA, planning your academic journey becomes more accessible. Should you require any guidance or assistance related to pursuing a PhD in the USA, feel free to reach out to our Shuraa Education experts. Connect with us at or through call or WhatsApp at +91 931 999 8924 for expert advice and support.

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Q1. What is the typical expense of earning a PhD in the USA?

The average cost of pursuing a PhD degree varies across universities and is influenced by the student’s residency status, whether they are classified as in-state or out-of-state. In-state students incur approximately $12,410 per year, while the cost is higher for out-of-state or international students. 

Q2. What work options are available during a PhD program?

PhD students have various employment opportunities, including applying for assistantship programs within their university, teaching graduate students with corresponding compensation, and exploring administrative or research-based positions.

Q3. Is the GRE mandatory for a PhD in the USA?

Yes, the GRE is a prerequisite for applying to PhD programs in the USA. A minimum score of 300 or above is typically required for eligibility at U.S. universities.

Q4. Are fees required for PhD students in the USA?

Typically, PhD students are granted a tuition waiver and financial support for living expenses, irrespective of their financial circumstances. The nature and extent of this funding can differ significantly among different PhD programs. 

Q5. Do PhD students receive financial support in the USA?

PhD students in the United States are advised against pursuing external employment. Instead, universities typically provide a tuition waiver and an annual stipend. Larger institutions, including Ivy League schools, often have more resources to offer substantial PhD funding compared to smaller private institutions.

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