PhD in USA- Admission, process, universities, salary and jobs

PhD in USA- Admission, Process, Universities, Salary and Jobs

Doing a PhD in the USA (United States of America) is most popular among students worldwide. Stanford University, University of California, Harvard University and Yale University are the world’s top-rated universities to do PhD.

USA is the hub for higher education, the reason is deeply experienced professors and scientists, state of the art laboratory set up, highly ranked universities, a transparent and smooth education system and more earning and career opportunities. 

Every year, 10 lakhs or more students migrate to the USA, for higher education. The value of higher education in America is actually pretty good in comparison to other countries. These are the reasons students choose USA as their destination for higher education and PhD.

In the present article, We will explain to you why doing a PhD in the USA is a great deal for you. What to do and what are the criteria for that. 

Related article: What is PhD?- History, Definition, Origin, Requirement, Fees, Duration and Process.

PhD in USA: 

Doing a PhD in the USA is a different thing than the UK, Europe, Germany or India. The reason is several outstanding benefits, here they are; 

The rules and regulations for PhD candidates are less complicated and flexible in the USA, a student can select their subject within the two years of tenure. Note that the first year is designed dedicated to course work only in which students have to learn research methodologies and other related subjects. 

The responsibilities of a PhD supervisor or guide are more in the USA PhD system than in other countries. 

Furthermore, a student can apply to various universities for getting admission. There no such central body that governs all universities. So students get more chances for admission. 

With this, the chances and opportunities of getting PhD funds, scholarships and fellowships are very high in the USA. 

The Entire PhD system in the USA is less hectic and students can work conveniently. These are the reasons students choose the USA for their PhD destination. 

Related article: PhD in India- Fees, Duration, Scholarship and Universities.

Admission Process for PhD in USA: 

Usually, universities across the USA accept direct applications and personal interviews for admission in the PhD, however, as there is no such central body to manage all universities, universities have their own rules and regulations. 

For instance, some universities are taking a common entrance test before applying into PhD, to know the aptitude of students whilst, rest prefer direct application. 

The research background of a student taken more seriously by some universities and hence they opted for a direct application and personal interview system. 

Here a student applies directly from the university website and fills all the necessary information. 

A research proposal or a PhD project is evaluated thoroughly during the personal interview session. Candidate’s research interest, publication and research background are checked. 

As the system is so flexible, applicants can apply in many universities, if rejected. 

Criteria and requirements: 

  • Completion of graduation and post-graduation with good score or grade
  • M.Phil (extra credit)
  • Complete application
  • A test score of an entrance exam, if applicable
  • A PhD project having all the information about the project 
  • Well written PhD research proposal 
  • Previous publications, if any 
  • All certifications and documents like degree certificate and mark sheets
  • University transfer certificate 
  • Guide or PhD supervisor’ recommendation letter 
  • Proof or latter of fund-scholarship or fellowship, if applicable 
  • A good score in English proficiency test, IELTS, TOEFL etc for foreign students
  • Your CV 
  • A copy of your passport 

Fees for PhD in the USA: 

Universities in the USA charge PhD fees to compensate various expenses in the form of education fees, tuition fee, lab or research fees and other. 

Noteworthy, the structure and amount of fees vary from university to university. Usually, $25,000 to $50,000 per year as a PhD fees, universities charge but it may go higher for pure research subjects like PhD in biology, science or related subjects in which the lab expenses are very high. 

Accommodations, mesh charges, hostel fees and other external charges are not included in fees. 

Moreover, a PhD student has to invest more money in publications, subscriptions, traveling and other university activities. Hence it may go higher. You can expect around $45,000 to $74,000 average cost of doing a PhD in the USA every year. 

Very expensive! let’s see several options to pay fees for a PhD in the USA.

As we said, universities in the USA are the hub for higher education, there are so many options you can use to pay your fees easily during your PhD in the USA. 

One of the easiest options is the part time job. 

If you don’t have any option to earn, you can choose a part-time job in some college, school, coaching classes or anywhere, where you can earn a good amount. You can pay your fees as well as other expenses too. 

Scholarship and fellowship are also a good option if you have a good previous academic record. 

Some students enroll with national scholarship, in those cases, their country will take care of their expenses and fees. 

Some universities also offer fellowship to some good and bright students. 

Also external project funds from industries, organisations and companies are also available for a PhD candidate. 

So these are some of the options, we will discuss every option to get funds in USA, in some other article.

Duration for PhD in USA: 

Much like in other countries, 3 years are mandatory for doing PhD even in the USA. Although it may take 5 or up to 10 years. It depends on how sincerely you are doing your research and the weightage of your PhD research. 

With a part-time job, a student may complete a PhD in the USA within 6 to 7 year. Notably, a whole first year is dedicatedly reserved for coursework. 

You can expect to complete your PhD in 6 years, if your subject knowledge is good. A regular student can even complete it in 4 years. 

Process for PhD in USA: 

The PhD process as well as tenure is more flexible in the USA education system than in other countries. 

The process is less complicated and much straightforward in which the major focus will be on the research background of the student. 

The process of PhD in the USA starts with applying online to various universities you wish to study. You have to fill all the information along with attaching a CV and PhD research proposal in it. 

The PhD research proposal is not a kind of complete one but a rough and brief overview of what type of research or on which topic you are willing to do your PhD. 

Spoiler: Graduate Record Examination, GRE scores are considered in getting admission to the PhD in the USA. So don’t forget to clear GRE before applying.   

So the process is simple, 

Prepare a PhD project (immediately after completing master’s) including the research proposal, the methodology, outcomes, process, total budgets, overall time durations, utilities, facilities required and other related information (Design a PhD project). 

Prepare a good PhD research proposal including the abstract, preface, introduction, material & methods, expected results, references for the topic you choose.

Apply online on the university website as we said. Do not forget to print the application form as well as the receipt of fees for application. 

Make a file of all the documents along with the application form. 

In the next step, you will have to appear in the personal interview at where questions related to your research interest will be asked to you. 

If any PhD guide or supervisor is willing to take you, you can attach their recommendation letter as well. Note that the guide should be an employee of the university at which you are going to apply. 

The score of the common entrance exam is taken into consideration during the interview, if applicable. 

Once you have been selected, you need to submit all your original documents, enlisted above to the university with your confirmation letter as well as the guide’s recommendation letter. 

Meanwhile, you have to pay university fees of one year or a semester to start your research work. 

After when you enrol into a PhD, one year coursework is mandatory for all students which you have to clear at the end of the year. 

Afterward, during the rest of the tenure of 2 to 4 years, you have to do your best efforts to complete your research work, thesis, research article, viva voce and other requirements. 

After completing your viva, a PhD degree is awarded. This is a brief overview of the whole process to do a PhD in the USA. 

Spoiler: minimum of 3.3 to 3.5 GPA is required to appear in a PhD interview or to apply for a PhD in the USA. 

Universities for doing PhD in USA: 

The reason why USA is so popular in the education system is the standard of their universities, world-class facilities and highly experienced faculties of their universities. 

Stanford and Harvard university are the uppermost, high class universities across the world. Different subjects, out of the box topics, experiences of guide and professors and the state of the art facilities attracts students more. 

Take a look at the highest ranked universities and their PhD courses. 

  1. Harvard university
  2. Stanford university 
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  4. University of California, Berkeley 
  5. Columbia University 
  6. University of California, Los Angeles 
  7. Yale University 
  8. University of Pennsylvania 
  9. Princeton University 
  10. Cornell University 
  11. New York University 
  12. University of CHicago 
  13. Duke university 
  14. John Hopkins University 

Some of the popular PhD program in USA: 

  • Doctorate of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph. D.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed. D.)
  • PhD in Health Policy 
  • PhD in Social Policy 
  • PhD in Political Economy and Government 
  • PhD in Public policy 
  • PhD in Accounting and Management 
  • PhD in Business Economics 
  • PhDi n Management and Health policy 
  • PhD in marketing 
  • PhD in Organizational Behavior
  • PhD in Technology and Operations Management 
  • PhD in science and related subjects 
  • PhD in biology, biotechnology and microbiology

Salary and Jobs: 

Another main reason why the USA as a PhD destination is most favorite among students is the higher-earning and career potential. 

In comparison with other degree or diploma’s PhD students can earn high, the usual salary and pay scale are very high in the USA. 

Government organizations, private companies, research organizations and other research organizations are eagerly waiting to hire higher PhD aspirants. 

As per our survey and research an average salary for the PhD in the USA is around $35,000 to $5,00,000. 

Take a look at the pay scale and salary scale of some of the most popular PhD programs. 

PhD program Salary 
Clinical psychology$81,000
Mental health counselor $39,000 
PhD in biotechnology and related disciplines$45,000 to $1,00,000
PhD in genetics and life science $44,000 to $15,00,000
PhD in biology and related subjects $48,000 to $90,000
PhD in education and leadership $72,000 to $2,50,000
PhD in marketing and market analytics or manager $15,000 to $71, 600
PhD in arts and related subjects$15,000 to $30,000
PhD in leadership $83,000
PhD in commerce $15, 6000

In terms of career opportunities, a PhD candidate in the USA is valued more and can get higher positions. For instance, posts like dean, principle, class I and HOD positions are highly reserved for the PhD candidate only. 

Advantages of doing PhD in USA: 

World class and highly ranked universities 

Highly experienced and qualified facilities

Flexible admission process 

Higher earning potential 

More career options 

Flexible tenure of PhD 

More support from a PhD guide 

Disadvantages of doing PhD in USA: 

In comparison with other countries, doing a PhD in the USA is costlier, i mean much costlier. 

Also, the fellowship and part-time earnings are low in the initial period. 

As their education prefers quality research work, the workload and pressure remains always high. 

Read more: PhD in Psychology.


Conclusively, we can say doing a PhD in the USA is a good decision for you in 2021. Do you still think that doing a PhD in 2021 is worth it? 

Some FAQs: 

What are the requirements for doing a PhD in the USA? 

An applicant must have a post graduation degree with a good GPA. For international students Mater’s degree, good GRE score and excellent research background. 

What is the average fees for doing PhD in USA?

Average fees for PhD in USA is around $25,000 to $50,000 approximately, however in may vary.

What is the duration of doing PhD in USA?

It takes minimum 3 years to complete the PhD, sometimes based on the topic it may take 6 to 8 years.

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