Phd in USA

SOURCE: Singh in USA

The US undoubtedly stands as the most prominent country in the field of education. It is eligible as the most preferred study destination for students from all the nooks and corners of the world. The main reason why the USAis such a magnificent attraction for PhD applicants all-round the world is the amount and the variety of courses it presents all the applicants with. Apart from that, the fact that the USA spends a major portion of its GDP on Research and Development, is also an attractive factor.

There’s little doubt left as to why one should apply for a PhD in the US. But a majority portion of students face difficulty with the application. This blog post is to aid you with the application procedure of PhD in the USA.

PhD in the USA for Indian students

For Indian students, a doctoral degree from the USA can open the gates for a plethora of different opportunities like research, competitive intelligence, market development and many more. It is also cost-efficient, as in most of the cases the students receive a stipend while pursuing PhD.  On top of that, having a PhD helps in getting the permanent resident status in the USA in relatively less time!

Here is a list of some of the best colleges for pursuing PhD in the USA:

Top PhD universities in the US for Indian Students

How to apply for a PhD in the USA?

1. Select the subject you wish to pursue

The first step to be taken is to choose the subject one wants to major in.

Students might or might not pursue the same field as their bachelors or masters, but for that to happen, they need to possess a strong knowledge in the concerned field.

2. Research for best universities offering doctoral in the chosen subject and apply

Once the candidate is done choosing the subject he/she wants to pursue a PhD in, then comes the step of deciding on the college. This step is an extremely crucial step, as this determines the course of your future during the years of your doctorate and will also govern your life after you pass out from the chosen college. Henceforth, to avoid helplessness of nothing to choose from, it is better to apply for 5 – 10 universities, shortlist all of them.

3. Pay heed to the deadlines:

Phd in USA Cost

Since studying abroad is an expensive affair, understanding the fee structures of various universities and choosing the most suitable one is highly important. The fee for a PhD, just like any other course, is entirely university dependent. Hence to get a clearer idea, different colleges should be carefully compared. 

Here is some data about the fee plans of different universities for a PhD:

s.noCollege/UniversityFee for a PhD(per year)
1California Institute of Technology45846 USD
2stanford14282 USD
3mit26725 USD
4yale21995 USD
5princeton14984 USD

Stipend for PhD in USA

One of the biggest perks of doing a PhD in the USA is that in almost all of the cases, the students receive a stipend for both tuition fees and living expenses from the university itself. This stipend is enough to waive off the tuition fee completely. This makes PhD one of the most cost-efficient degrees that one can pursue. Along with the stipend, international students can also take up on-campus jobs which can further help them to sustain themselves.

Some of the on-campus jobs are:

  • Research assistant
  • Assistant professor
  • Student advisor
  • Part-time faculty

PhD in USA without GRE

Is GRE required for PhD in USA?

GRE or the graduate record examination is a Subject proficiency test and one of the qualifying examinations to be given by international students to take admission in colleges in the USA. But is the GRE required for doctoral programs? The answer is not necessarily, as not all of the universities have a GRE score as their admission requirement. The exam is of 340 marks. These marks are split up into three sections: verbal reasoning(170 marks), quantitative analysis(170 marks) and analytical writing of 6 marks which are added later.

GRE score for PhD in USA

Out of a total of 340 marks, a score of 317-330 can be considered sufficient for admission in any doctorate program in any top university in the US.

Minimum GRE score for PhD in the US

The minimum GRE score for PhD may vary according to the different criteria of universities, but in general, it is 310-315.

Scholarships for PhD in the USA

There are some scholarship programs for students willing to pursue Phd from the united states.

PhD in USA for Indian students with Scholarship

  • Foreign Fullbright scholarship program: This scholarship is for those international students who want to pursue their master’s or PhD from the US. Expenses including tuition fees, living costs, and health insurance are covered by this scholarship.
  •  Humphrey fellowship program: this scholarship provides the students with a year of professional enrichment students based on their leadership and commitment to public service.
  • AAUW international fellowships
  • Purdue university Lillian gilberth postdoctoral fellowships in US

How to apply for PhD in USA after masters

Any student who stands qualified with a master’s degree can easily apply for a PhD in the US. It is preferable, though not compulsory, for him/her to choose the master’s subject for PhD.

Eligibility Exams to Apply for PhD in the USA


  • Management studies admission
  • Used by business schools


  • Mandatory for all graduate programs
  • GRE subject tests can be a special requirement of certain universities


  • English proficiency test
  • For students of non-native English-speaking countries
  • Conducted more than 40 times a year


  • English proficiency test
  • Has 4 different parameters which are tested:
  1. -listening
  2. -reading
  3. -writing
  4. -speaking

Requirements of PhD in USA

Now that we have a clear image about the colleges, fees, and stipend, let’s have a look at other requirements for the application process

Documents Required for PhD in the USA

  • Statement of Purpose- The most important element and reflects a candidate’s commitment. Should be brief and clear
  • Letter of Recommendation: Independent assessment and reflects a candidate’s potential. Mostly 2-3 letters are needed by candidate’s professor or employer
  • Resume: At the PhD level, a resume becomes a necessity for college applications. It should showcase your talents, your experience in the field you have chosen, alongside basic information such as date of birth, qualifications and achievements and details regarding the previous place of work.
  • Academic result transcripts: Includes all the qualifications that the candidate will list while submitting the application form.

Other important Documents

  • Work experience certificates
  • Passport
  • Extra-curricular certificate
  • WES evaluation documents

Interview for PhD in the USA

Many reputed universities hold an interview round for candidates applying for PhD.

These interviews are based on general questions related to one’s subject of persuasion and interview takes place only after the candidate has been selected in the paper round.

PhD in USA eligibility

In US universities, appearance for Masters is not necessary, admissions for PhD are accepted after Bachelor’s degree as well.

  • 16 years of education
  • The candidate must have completed 4 years of education after 10 +2. The admission in US colleges for PhD is only on completion of 16 years of education and now you know why some colleges in India, especially the art ones, have a bachelor’s of 4 years.

PhD in machine learning USA

Machine learning is all about developing various techniques with the help of data min9ng and data analytics. Universities offering PhD machine learning are

PhD in Management USA

This degree is one of the most sought after by the students. It is mainly about business management and commerce. Universities offering this program are:

PhD in USA after MTech in India

A lot of students think of doing PhD after their is completed. They are more inclined towards increasing their qualifications and knowledge rather than entering the job sector just after their masters. In India, a huge chunk of students opt for M.Tech after their B.Tech, and there are many top-notch colleges for the same.

Now, to pursue PhD in USA after completion of MTech is a really nice option for those wanting to study abroad and expand the horizons of their practical knowledge. Following are some requirements for PhD after MTech:

  • A two-year masters degree after a 3 or 4-year graduation is the basic criteria for almost all the colleges offering PhD after MTech in USA
  • Toefl, or test of English as a foreign language is the qualifying examination for admission in most of the colleges. Sometimes, a GRE score is also required.
  • Scanned copies of all the original transcripts of all graduate and undergraduate courses completed by the student.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the most reputed institutes of the usa. Along with other grad and undergrad courses, mit also offers a doctorate program for aspiring students from all over the world. These Ph.D. programs are related to a wide range of fields. The application process is similar as mentioned before, Let’s take a look at some special  requirements for the application procedure at mit for international students:

  • TOEFL or IELTS as the qualifying exam

Mit offers a choice between toefl and ielts as qualifying exams for English. The passing criteria are decided every year by the concerned departments.

  •     Financial aid

The financial aid for international students is limited at MIT. Hence you must find sponsors apart from the college to pay the various expenses during your PhD.

  • Other requirements
  1. Submission of online application by paying an application fee of $75-$250.
  2. GRE scores
  3. TOEFL or IELTS score
  4. Letters of recommendation
  5. Statement of objective
  6. Official transcripts
  7. resume/CV

PhD in USA Duration

A doctorate degree in the United States usually takes 5 to 6 years for completion. This duration varies with different courses. For example, a doctorate in computer science in the US takes 4-5. PhD in management takes 5 years and doctorates in any engineering field usually get completed in 3 to 5 years.

PhD in USA for Indian Students in Pharmacy

Indian students who have completed their masters in pharmaceutical sciences (M.Sc) can apply for a PhD in pharmacy in the US. there are a huge amount of high paying jobs such as clinical research, medical writing, and pharmacovigilance in the field of pharmacy. Some American universities offering Ph.D. pharmacy are:

  • University of california, san francisco
  • University of southern california
  • University of texas, austin

Life after PhD in USA

The gates of a surplus amount of opportunities are opened once you complete your PhD from the US. Not only you have, the higher most qualification, you now have access to an abundance of jobs related to your specialization. Most of the PhD holders choose either to continue with their research or take up the teaching profession. Many other high profile jobs offered by giant corporations are also an option, and here one can put their skill sets to practical use.

Having a phd is a huge plus point for international students looking forward to settling in us only, as in some cases having a doctorate degree and showing your research work can help you get permanent resident status in lesser time than usual. 

Visa for PhD in USA

Now that we have a thorough idea about the entire application procedure for a PhD in the United States, let’s talk about the visa requirements essential to complete the admission process. Being international students, the students from India require a  special F1 student visa. The F1 visa allows the non-citizen students to live in the united states until their course lasts. This visa prohibits students from working outside,i.e., students can only take up on-campus jobs (only 20 hours a week).

  • For applying for F1 visa, the student must have the i 20 form given by the university he/she is applying to.
  • Documents that show that the student has enough liquid money in his/her bank account to fund the entire college fee along with the other expenses.
  • Documents showing that the student will return to his/her home country once the course is completed.

PhD in USA after MBA

Indian students who are engaged in not science but the business field can also plan their doctorate in the USA after the completion of their MBA. Many reputed institutes offer a variety of courses for students with an MBA degree.

While an MBA is sufficient to land you a nice job, doing a PhD upgrades the current scenario. If your goal is not to work in the corporate sector but to teach other aspiring students in prestigious and world-renowned institutes, doing PhD additional to the MBA is the right thing for you. This does not mean that after this one cannot work in the job sector ever, one can easily get a job after PhD.

Free PhD in USA

Almost all of the PhD programs in the US are free, given they provide you with a stipend that waives of the entire tuition fee and living expenses. Apart from the application processing cost, students have to pay next to nothing for the actual doctorate degree in the US. But this is not true for all the cases as different universities have different policies regarding program funding. That is why there is a huge variation in stipends given by American colleges.

Phd in USA vs India

Students might reckon that why it is better to pursue PhD from USA and not India? Following is the comparison between the two based on some basic criteria:

Global valueDoes not hold much value according to international standardsGlobally acknowledged and recognised
stipendFunding is not so good, stipend(fee waiver is very less)Excellent funding,students get stipends which waives of tuition fee and living cost almost completely
Research workNot so productive as the labs are not well equipped and lack facilities, mainly theoreticalAdvanced and hi-tech labs are preset to facilitate advanced and practical research
Job opportunitiesOnly limited to teaching field or research workPlethora of opportunities, plenty of corporate jobs along with research and teaching
Future aspectsLess scope for future development or progress in careerCan settle in the us, development and success rate is relatively higher

PhD in USA in electrical engineering

Electrical engineering is basically about the study of maths and physics and deals with the elements of electricity and electronics. This program is also famous among students. Following are the top colleges which offer PhD programs in electrical engineering:

  • University of California Berkeley
  • Stanford university
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California Irvine
  • University of California Santa Cruz

PhD in USA without GMAT

Gmat score is one of the qualifying examinations for admission in universities in the USA. For a PhD, GMAT scores are not always required. Whether the score is needed or not is completely determined by the university. There are many institutes which do not require the GMAT score.

Phd in USA vs Germany

Apart from the USA, Germany is also one of the top choices of international students for studying abroad. Let’s have a comparative look at what both the countries have to offer

Time periodUsually takes 3 to 4 years for completion of PhD as the students do not have to do course work in the first two yearsTakes 5 to 6 years for phd competition because of course work in the first two years of PhD
Qualifying examToefl is recommended, not compulsoryGre and toefl are compulsory qualifying exams
Application criteriaMasters degree is a must to enter any phd program4 years bachelors or 3+2 bachelors and masters degree are required for admission.
stipendStipend is provided to waive of tuition and living expensesStipend is provided
universitiesMany colleges and universities are present for phd programsWorld renowned colleges like mit, stanford, princeton and caleach are present.

PhD in USA vs Canada

Many of the international students enter a dilemma while choosing a foreign country for higher education. They get confused between America and Canada, which is also home to many universities offering PhD program. Following is a comparative study between the two countries:

Time period4 years5 to 6 years due to more course work in initial years
universitiesLimited but with good rankingA large number of universities with high ranking, i.e., more alternatives to choose from
Job opportunitiesVery limited jobsPlethora of job opportunities in various field
stipendStipend is provided to students
(average= 38000 USD per year)
Stipend is provided to students
(average=15000-40000USDper year)
immigrationImmigration process is relatively smooth, getting a pr status is relatively easyImmigration process is relatively tough, getting pr status is not that easy

PhD in USA Benefits

The united states of America are one of the leading forces in terms of providing higher education to students from all over the globe. Hence, the following are the major benefits to students for pursuing a PhD in the USA:

  • Better job opportunities
  • Cost-effective as it requires a lot less capital investment than any other foreign degree program.
  • A more practical approach in place of mere theoretical knowledge
  • More facilities like better labs and research equipment.
  • A chance to learn about international cultures and keep up with the global mainstream
  • Since the USA is a developed country, its technology and other logistics are one step ahead of India.


  1. Am I eligible enough to pursue a PhD?

That depends. What would you like to research? Would you like to research or not?

Predominantly, one needs to identify what one’s future ambitions. A PhD is foremost a period of research training and intellectual challenge. Does this feel appealing to you? When we talk about eligibility on the other hand, have you cleared your masters? Or are you on the path of clearing it?

Does the subject you study, genuinely interest you? Would you be okay studying it and researching about the same field for a majority of your life? With the questions mentioned, find answers and you’ll know whether you suit a PhD or not.

2. How long does PhD take to complete?

There is no definite answer to this as the time taken for PhD varies from course to course.

In the US, you are eligible for PhD even after you have completed your bachelors and sometimes, master’s completion is not necessarily required.

Although it is always a better option to complete your masters prior to PhD so that you have gained access to the in-depth knowledge of your field, but the choice rests in your hands.

3. What qualifications do I need?

A Master’s degree, or its international equivalent, is often required for entry onto a PhD and this is generally the case in arts and humanities subjects. In the sciences, however, students can sometimes move directly towards a PhD after their undergraduate degree. In addition to some postgraduate requirements, you’ll also need to demonstrate good performance during your undergraduate degree. An upper second class bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum entry requirement.

If the PhD you applied for and are going to study is not conducted in your first language, then you’ll have to provide evidence of proficiency through a language test.

4. Am I allowed to study part-time?

Absolutely. Many students choose to study part-time, particularly when they are earning on their own, so as to work and earn funds for a college in the other half of their time. It is likely that most of the funded PhD positions will require a full-time commitment but the self- funded ones, without the hold of any sponsorship, can study part-time and work the other half.

5. What is an MPhil? Please Elaborate.

Most UK universities require PhD pursuing students to start their studies by registering for the degree of MPhil. The student is usually required to produce a report at the end of the first year and may undertake a more informal internal examination of this material as part of their upgrade procedure. If their work is judged to be of the required standard the student’s registration will transfer to a PhD.

This procedure is less common in US universities. In the US, PhD students directly jump-start to research in PhD, skipping the MPhil procedure altogether.


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About the Author

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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