Find & Compare PhD in the United States of America
- new search.
- Stockholms Län
- Stockholm BarAkademi
- Stockholm College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Stockholms Dramatiska Högskola
- Stockholms fria Universitet
- Stockholms Hotell- och restaurangskola
- Stockholms Musikpedagogiska Institut
- Grillska Komvux
- Stockholms tillskärarakademi
- Stockholms universitet
Schools (22), doctorate of business administration (dba).
- Doctorate / PhD
- Multiple (3)
- On campus, Online / Distance
Biomedical Engineering PhD
- Rapid City, United States of America
Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD
Doctor of public health (drph).
- Baltimore, United States of America
- Online / Distance, On campus
PhD in Mental Health
Phd in systems and entrepreneurial engineering.
- Illinois, United States of America
Electrical engineering phd, mechanical engineering phd, materials engineering and science phd, nanoscience and nanoengineering phd, chemical and biological engineering phd, geology, geological engineering, and mining engineering phd, data science and engineering phd, atmospheric & environmental sciences phd, ph.d. in materials science & engineering, ph.d. in industrial engineering, curriculum and instruction - ph.d..
- Kent, United States of America
Business Administration - Ph.D.
- Online / Distance
Biomed Sci-Cell/Molecular Biol - Ph.D.
Looking for scholarships to make your dream of studying abroad possible? We've compiled 550+ scholarships available for international students!
Access the Scholarship Directory
- PhD in USA – A Guide for 2020/21
- Finding a PhD
A PhD in USA takes approximately 5 – 6 years of full-time study and can cost between $12,000 – $45,000 per academic year. PhD programs in USA differ from that in the UK and Europe in that students must first take taught classes, coursework and exams before starting their research project.
Why Do a PhD in USA?
The United States has long had some of the most distinguished universities and advanced PhD programmes in the world. Combined with curriculum flexibility, rigorous teaching methods, vast funding opportunities, breathtaking campuses and significant career prospects, it’s no wonder that it is one of the most sought-after study destinations for research students.
In addition to comprehensive training standards, here are a few other reasons why a student may choose to undertake their PhD in the United States:
- Longer learning timeframes – A PhD in the US lasts longer than a PhD in the UK or Europe. This allows students to more confidently transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies; more commonly referred to as ‘graduate studies’ in the US. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about your subject, research methods and academic writing in general before starting your research project.
- World-class universities – It’s no secret that some of the most well-known higher education institutions that continue to dominate global rankings are based in the United States. Although many factors go into determining whether a position is right for you, a PhD at a high-ranking American university will undeniably have many benefits, from excellent learning standards to access to innovative equipment and deep expertise.
- International network – The US has long been a popular choice among PhD students around the world. As such, the US hosts a diverse and multicultural learning environment in which many research students will quickly feel at home.
- Opportunities – With over 4,000 universities in the US, we can safely say you will have plenty of opportunities to find the ideal combination of project, supervisor and university that works for you.
Universities in USA
Universities in the United States can be divided into two types: public universities and private universities.
Public universities are financed by the state in which they are based. Because of this, public universities charge less for students from within the state and more for students from outside the state, including international students.
Private universities are not financed by their state, but by private donors, research funds and tuition fees. For this reason, private universities generally charge higher tuition fees than public universities and require all students to pay the same amount, regardless of whether they come from out-of-state or abroad.
According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 , eight of the top ten universities in the world are located in the United States. These are:
Method of Study
The main difference between a PhD in the US and a PhD in Europe lies in the program structure. Whereas a European PhD essentially consists of a single phase lasting three to four years , an American PhD consists of three different phases, each with its own time frame.
- Phase One – The first phase lasts approximately two years and focuses on building a basic foundation for the doctoral student. This phase consists largely of taught components such as lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions, in which the student learns more about theoretical concepts and research methods within their discipline.
- Phase Two – The second phase can be considered an assessment phase, which runs both periodically alongside and at the end of the first phase. Here, students complete coursework and take exams on the basis of the material they have covered of which they must pass in order to proceed to the third phase.
- Phase Three – The third phase lasts approximately three years and resembles the European PhD structure. During this period, the student undertakes an independent research project, including forming a research design, conducting experiments, writing a thesis (more commonly referred to in the USA as a dissertation) and sitting a viva exam.
Besides structure, a key difference between a PhD program in the US and in Europe is the focus on teaching requirements. In the US, doctoral students are expected to lecture, lead tutorials, host laboratory sessions, mark coursework and provide office hours for undergraduate students. Although students studying in European will likely contribute to these at some point during their study, this would normally be on a voluntary basis and involve less time commitment.
Another difference is project flexibility. In Europe, students typically apply to a PhD project predetermined by a supervisor, and although there may be some scope to adapt the project, depending on the funding provider , it will usually be limited to how the project is carried out rather than what it is about. In the US, however, a student applies to become a doctoral candidate within a department rather than applying for a particular research project. This is because students are expected to decide on their thesis topic (also commonly referred to as a dissertation research topic) near the end of their first phase after they have developed a better understanding of their subject and know where their interests lie. Therefore, research students in the US generally have more flexibility and influence in the direction of their research than students in the United Kingdom or Europe.
PhD Admission Requirements in USA
PhD admission into US universities can be highly competitive, both because of the limited number of positions and the large number of annual applicants.
The eligibility requirements for a doctoral program in the USA can generally be divided into four sections:
- Grade Point Average (GPA) – in the US, a scoring system known as Grade Point Average is used to measure academic ability. A student’s GPA is calculated as a weighted score of the subjects they study during their undergraduate degree; an equivalent score is calculated by universities for international applicants. Although universities rarely set minimum GPA requirements for doctoral study, it’s worth being aware that a GPA of 3.0 is equivalent to a UK second class honours (2:1); the typical entry requirement for UK universities.
- Graduate Records Exam (GRE) – most universities will require you to take a series of examinations known as Graduate Records Exams, which are used to determine your suitability for graduate study. GREs will assess your analytical, reasoning and critical thinking skills as well as your depth of your subject.
- Student aptitude – in addition to academic ability, US universities also look for characteristics of a strong researcher. These include traits such as engaging in the subject in your own time, e.g. by attending talks and conferences, demonstrating a high degree of independence and enthusiasm, and a general passion for your subject.
- English Language Proficiency – international students whose first language is not English must sit language exams such as IELTS or TOELF to demonstrate their English language proficiency.
International students will also require a F1 student visa in order to study in the US, however, you would typically apply for this after you have secured a place into a doctorate program.
How to Apply for PhD in USA
When applying for a PhD position at a graduate school, the application process will differ between universities, however, they will all typically ask for the following:
- Academic CV – a short document summarising your educational background and current level of experience .
- Personal statement – a document which outlines why you believe you are suitable for PhD study and your passion for the subject.
- Academic transcripts – a complete breakdown of the modules and their respective marks you have taken as part of your previous/current degree.
- GRE scores – a transcript of your Graduate Records Exam results.
- Research statement – a condensed version of a research proposal outlining your general research interests, if required.
- Recommendation letters – references from several academic referees who endorse your qualities as a person, your abilities as a student and your potential as a doctoral researcher.
Application Deadlines and Fees
Since PhD programs in the United States have taught components, they commence at the same time as all other taught degrees, and therefore share the same application deadlines and start dates. This corresponds to an application period that typically begins in August and ends in February. Admission decisions are typically made in April, with successful students starting in August/September.
When you apply to a graduate school, you will be expected to pay a fee for each doctorate application to cover the school’s administrative costs for processing your application. The fee varies from university to university, but typically ranges from $50 to $100 .
Funding your PhD in USA
It’s very common for a PhD student to receive financial aid in the form of a PhD scholarship; in fact, this will be the case for the vast majority of students in the US.
PhD funding can be ‘fully funded’ covering the student’s graduate program tuition fees, accommodation and living costs, or ‘partially funded’ covering the student’s tuition fee only in part or full.
Besides funding, a graduate student can take on an assistantship, such as a graduate teaching assistant or research assistant, in which they take on a part-time salaried position at the university alongside their studies.
Due to the international and collaborate nature of American universities, there are also a number of international scholarships available, such as the Fulbright Scholarship and the AAUW International Fellowship .
PhD Duration in USA
In the US, a PhD takes approximately 5 – 6 years to complete if studying full-time, and 8 – 10 years if studying part-time.
If you already have a Master’s degree, your first phase can be shortened by one year at the discretion of the university.
Cost of a PhD in USA
The cost of a PhD program in the US can vary considerably depending on the type of university, i.e. whether it’s a public or private university, the doctoral course, i.e. whether it’s in a STEM subject such as computer science, engineering or a non-STEM subject, and whether you are a home or international student.
In general, however, the typical annual tuition fee for a PhD in the US is between $12,000 and $45,000 per academic year.
As with any doctoral degree, additional costs may include travel for collaborations, bench fees, accommodation and living expenses.
Browse PhDs Now
Join thousands of students.
Join thousands of other students and stay up to date with the latest PhD programmes, funding opportunities and advice.
- Home »
Studying a PhD in The USA - The Complete Guide
Find your perfect postgrad program search our database of 30,000 courses.
The USA is a favourable postgraduate study destination for international students due to the high standard of academic study and the wide variety of subjects. By undertaking a PhD in the USA, you will find yourself becoming an internationally recognised expert in your chosen field.
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the USA is considered the highest awarded degree in many US universities and institutes for most fields of study. For many international students, it's a dream course that offers an exciting new life chapter.
Attending Grad School for a PhD in the USA is not the same as undertaking a PhD in Europe or the UK , it can often be a different experience. However, studying abroad will improve your global cultural understanding in addition to your network of contacts for your future career. A PhD degree is often required when you apply for high-level management jobs, government expert positions, and careers like a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.
There are a multitude of reasons why the United States is a fantastic choice for your PhD studies. Here’s everything you need to know about studying a PhD in the USA.
1. PhD course length
The total length of a PhD in the USA is between 4-8 years for full-time students and 8-10 years for part-time students, depending on your field of study. PhDs can be completed in 4-5 years for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject. Students typically dedicate 1-4 years on coursework, followed by 2-4 years of dissertation work. In the USA, the academic year is divided into two teaching semesters: August to December and January to May.
Having a longer duration for your PhD allows for greater opportunities to adjust to your course and find your footing. This enables you to concentrate on developing a more comprehensive understanding of your chosen subject at a more relaxed pace.
2. World-class universities
The US repeatedly tops the charts of worldwide ranking universities, so what better place to do your PhD studies? Although rankings shouldn’t be the main deciding factor when making your PhD choice, they're a great indicator of educational expertise.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the location for your PhD. Does the university have a high employability rate after graduation? Are you wanting to go public or private university? What kind of research facilities do they have?
Be sure to do some research before making a decision on your perfect place of study.
3. International community
The United States is a popular choice for international students from all over the world – making it an inspirational and cosmopolitan choice for your PhD studies. No matter what your choice of academic study is, you are guaranteed to find a diverse community that welcomes students from all backgrounds.
4. Affordable tuition fees
There are various tuition fee options available for PhD students regardless of your budget. The American higher education system is often associated with high fees and substantial student debt, but in fact, studying at an American university isn't always expensive, and many institutions offer affordable courses. For instance, PhD costs range from $28,000 to $55,000, which shows that finding a PhD course that’s more affordable is possible.
5. Student experience
American universities typically have vibrant campus communities with a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs and organisations. As a student, you will have the opportunity to engage in various social, cultural and recreational activities alongside your academic studies.
6. Student Support
American universities typically provide comprehensive support services to assist you on your PhD journey. These services may include academic advising, counselling, career services, libraries, writing centres and various student organisations aimed at fostering your personal and professional development.
7. Land of opportunity
It's fair to say that student life in the USA offers something for everyone, regardless of what you're looking for from a PhD. With 50 states, six time zones, and thousands of higher-education providers, there's an opportunity waiting for every individual across the globe.
So let’s take a look at some of the key factors to consider when studying for a PhD in the USA.
Studying a PhD in the USA: top tips
Who is eligible for a phd in the usa.
To be eligible for PhD in the USA, generally students should have completed a graduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, provide proof of English language proficiency, GRE scores and other supporting documents. The eligibility criteria for a PhD in the USA can vary depending on the specific university and program.
Can I get a PhD without a masters degree?
Yes, you can pursue a PhD without having a masters. Universities in the USA do not require a masters for you to apply. Because of the graduate programs in the US, you will receive your masters degree once you have completed your coursework stage. This practice combines the masters and PhD into one.
The eligibility criteria and requirements for direct entry PhD programs vary among institutions and fields of study, so it is advisable to check the entry requirements of the specific university or course you are interested in.
How to apply for a PhD in the USA
When applying for your chosen subject in the USA, you should expect to provide relevant information and statements to the university. This will include:
Completed application form – provided by your preferred university.
A personal statement – on why you want to study the subject, your research interests and career goals. Be sure to include any extracurricular activities and achievements within the body of your statement.
References – universities will expect that your referees will recommend you for the chosen course.
Test scores and grades – you will generally need to submit scores from standardised tests like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
English Language Proficiency – international applicants whose native language is not English usually need to provide proof of English language proficiency through tests like the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). It varies from institution to institution, but international students in the USA are required to have a TOEFL score of about 90.
Samples of work – it is recommended that you provide some work you have done that is relevant to your chosen subject. You may even be asked to complete a small task during the application process.
The application fee.
Method of study
Compared to the UK and Europe , studying a PhD in the USA involves several key differences. Students in the USA are usually in direct contact with their professor, compared with those in the UK where students might find that their PhD program is headed by a professor who gives them a little less flexibility to change their research and study areas. There can be several cultural differences between UK, Europe, and USA university lifestyles. US students are expected to undertake a great deal of teaching and marking, as opposed to PhD students in Europe.
As a result, you may have less free time outside of the university when pursuing a PhD in the USA.
Application for PhD In USA
When applying for your chosen subject, you should expect to provide relevant information and statements to the university. This might include:
A personal statement on why you want to study the subject. Be sure to include any extra-curricular activities and achievements within the body of your statement.
References. Universities will expect that your referees will recommend you for the chosen course.
Test scores and grades. It is important that you provide a list of your awarded grades from previous courses you have studied.
Samples of work. It is recommended that you provide some work you have done that is relevant to your chosen subject. You may even be asked to complete a small task during the application process.
UK and Europe students decide on their PhD thesis subject area before they apply . While taking classes at a graduate level, prospective PhD students in the USA spend up to a year or two deciding on their specific research subject. It is normal to apply for up to six institutions for a PhD in the USA, and students apply to each institution separately as there is no central organisation.
Students in the UK and Europe are expected to apply with an understanding of the subject already, usually in the form of a masters degree, and be ready to start studying at the PhD level straight away. In the USA it is expected that students do not have an in-depth understanding of their subject as they usually only have an undergraduate degree when they apply.
When should I start applying for a PhD in the USA?
Deadlines for applications to PhD programs in the USA tend to be between December and February, and institutions should let you know about your application by April. Most US institutions recommend that you apply as far in advance as you possibly can to give them, and you, plenty of time to make arrangements.
Universities in the USA do not require a masters for you to apply as well. Because of the graduate programs in the US, you will receive your masters degree once you have completed your coursework stage. This practice combines the masters and PhD into one.
It varies from institution to institution, but international students in the USA are required to have a TOEFL score of about 90.
Funding your PhD in USA
PhD students are very likely to receive financial support in the form of PhD scholarships ; some USA PhD students also receive PhD studentships .
Making your PhD application in plenty of time allows you more time to apply for and arrange your PhD funding. Many students find that funding can cover much, or all, of the cost of their PhD studies in the USA, which ranges between $28,000 and $40,000. Deadlines for funding applications can be as early as December before starting your studies in the Autumn/Fall.
There are two types of PhD funding: fully funded, which pays for the student's graduate school tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses, or partially funded, which pays for the student's tuition only partially or fully.
Can a PhD be fully funded?
Yes, many top universities in the USA offer fully funded PhD programs for eligible students. This funding pays for the student's graduate school tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses. Partially funded PhDs only cover the student's tuition in part or in full.
Some PhD students will receive a stipend from their institution with an assistantship position, but this varies between institutions and between departments within institutions. Other students can find funding from both their own and the American government, and there are plenty of American government schemes like The Fulbright Program that offer funds.
Apply for one of our x5 bursaries worth £2,000
We've launched our new Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries for 2024. Full-time, part-time, online and blended-learning students eligible. 2024 & 2025 January start dates students welcome. Study postgraduate courses in any subject taught anywhere worldwide.
How long does it take to study a PhD in the USA?
For part-time students in the USA, a PhD can take eight to ten years, but it usually takes five to six years for full-time students. PhDs can be completed in four to five years rather than five or six for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject.
Top 10 ranked American universities
Based on 2023 worldwide rankings, the following table shows which US universities rank the highest.
Our PhD bursary winner & funding opportunity
Mohammad Abdollahi is a 35-year-old Iranian student studying a PhD in Operational Research at the University of Essex. He was delighted when he found out he’d been awarded a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary worth £500. As an international student coming to the UK with his wife and two children, it has proved to be an invaluable funding resource as he explains. “It was good news and exciting – I was overwhelmed with joy!”
How To Prepare For A PhD Viva
Masters In USA
Lists of Universities in USA
Graduate School USA
Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries
Exclusive bursaries Open day alerts Funding advice Application tips Latest PG news
Sign up now!
Take 2 minutes to sign up to PGS student services and reap the benefits…
- The chance to apply for one of our 5 PGS Bursaries worth £2,000 each
- Fantastic scholarship updates
- Latest PG news sent directly to you.