The Ministry or Department of Education in the country is a good starting point for many forms of educational grants. There are also many charities and trusts that offer financial help to specific demographics.For example, there are scholarships for women and students from particular countries or subject areas, but also more ‘niche’ grants, targeting everyone from vegetarians to the spouses or children of grocers, pharmacists or carpenters.
Some organizations may also offer financial support for existing employees who wish to begin PhD studies during their employment. Candidates wishing to ask their employer to help fund a PhD must usually explain how their studies will benefit their personal and professional development.
PhD funding in the US
In the US, PhD students are discouraged from engaging in external employment. Universities instead offer a tuition waiver and an annual stipend. Ivy League and other larger institutions are typically more able to offer PhD funding than smaller private institutions. Students studying online courses are also less likely to receive funding. The source of funding and amount varies between subjects and between universities, but a good starting point is the Fulbright programs run by the Institute of International Education.
Many PhD students in the US work as teaching assistants or research assistants to supplement their income. These are both usually offered as yearly contracts between the student and the institution, renewed if the student maintains specified academic standards. Some graduate schools may ask students to obtain fellowships (funding with no strings attached in terms of career obligations) or take advantage of their supervisor’s research grants from government agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
PhD funding in Canada
In Canada, PhD students may work outside the university (or through student jobs within the university) but some programs stipulate that students must not work for more than 10 hours per week outside of their studies, particularly if they have been granted PhD funding. The Canadian Government runs a scholarships website which you can use to explore available funding opportunities such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, available to Canadian and international PhD students.
Competitive PhD scholarships include those run by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). Some universities give a tuition deferral or waiver to PhD students.
PhD funding in the UK
In the UK, there is a range of funding options for PhD students. Many universities have a limited number of studentships or bursaries made specifically available for postgraduate applicants. The amounts provided could range from covering tuition costs, covering living costs or simply covering costs for textbooks and research materials.
Government-funded Research Councils provide tax-free bursaries which include tuition fees and a stipend of around £15,000 (US$19,600) or over per year for three years. Scientific studentships are offered by organizations and charities such as Cancer Research UK, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), and the Wellcome Trust which start at around £19,000 (US$31,725) and rise each year .
There are also regional scholarships such as the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan for Commonwealth students to study in other Commonwealth countries. PhD students in the UK may also take part in tutoring, work as a research assistant, or deliver paid lectures.
Doctoral Loans are another popular way of funding postgraduate study in the UK, and allow you to borrow up to £25,000 (~US$32,450) for your course fees and living costs, paid in three installments throughout the year. The earliest you’ll start repaying the loan is when your annual income is over £21,000 and it’s either the first April after you leave your course, or the first April four years after your course started.
PhD funding in France
In France, the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research has specific funds for research, which they use to provide a short-term employment contract (not tax free) called a ‘doctoral contract’ for the PhD candidate, regardless of nationality. This stipulates that the candidate will be working for the institution at which the PhD is based. The contract is for three years, renewable for one year and sets out the legal framework befitting a normal work contract, including minimum salary level and activities the candidate may be involved in.
在法国，法国高等教育和研究部(Ministry of Higher Education and Research)有专门的研究基金，他们利用这些基金为博士候选人提供一份称为“博士合同”的短期雇佣合同(不是免税的)，并且不分国籍。这规定了博士生将在博士期间为所在的机构工作。该合同为期三年，可续签一年，并规定了符合正常工作合同的法律框架，包括最低工资水平和博士候选人可能参与的活动。
You may also apply for bursaries from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) which offers the Eiffel Excellence Scholarships aimed at international students. PhD students can also apply for funds from a private-sector research company which can host them at its own premises; notable scholarships of this nature include the Conventions Industrielles de Formation par la Recherche (CIFRE). Another option is a scholarship based on co-tutelle which allows PhD students to undertake a research project between two institutions – this is called a Joint-PhD. A range of regional and city projects and associations are also in place in France to provide funding for PhDs.
Most opportunities for PhD studentships are advertised on the institution’s website, but some are offered internally after the student has applied to their degree program. Externally funded PhD scholarships and studentships are not offered directly to students by the organization, but are instead allocated to departments and supervisors who then advertise for candidates.
If you can identify an appropriate supervisor who is impressed with your research experience and proposal, s/he may be able to personally help you identify sources of funding (even from their own or their department’s research funds), so it definitely helps to be proactive when trying to secure funding.
When applying for any sort of funding, always make sure to adhere to the often very strict deadlines, and to apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment. You may also find it takes a considerable amount of time to get all the required materials, essays, personal statements and references ready before you can apply to a funding opportunity.