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Top Fully Funded PhD Programs

Fully funded PhD programs offer students seeking their doctor of philosophy degrees the ultimate experience. With the average cost of a PhD at nearly $100,000, students are able to focus on their studies without worrying about paying for their degrees or living expenses. Keep reading to learn about some of the top fully funded PhD programs in a variety of majors.

What is a “Doctorate of Philosophy” degree?

A “doctorate of philosophy” degree, better known as a PhD, is among the highest level degrees in the United States. A PhD is awarded after the successful completion of an extensive research and writing project known as a dissertation. Students can earn a PhD in a variety of fields, with most majoring in the humanities or social sciences. 

Further reading: What is a PhD?

How we chose the fully funded PhD programs on our list

We looked for programs that have stellar reputations in their respective majors. It makes sense that the most reputable programs offer the resources that are most important to  PhD students. Working with distinguished professors in their field and having access to outstanding libraries, PhD students will be immersed in the ideal learning environment. 

Opportunities to learn under and network with the most well regarded academics is invaluable for students’ future careers. Finally, we looked for fully funded programs that include not only full tuition coverage, but also living stipends and health insurance. A few of the programs might require students to “give back” in the way of graduate assistantships, so keep that in mind as you read the fine print on each website. 

The top fully funded PhD programs

The following list is in alphabetical order with no preference for one particular program. We included a variety of majors in different regions, but remember, this is just the start of an exhaustive listing of fully funded PhD programs across the USA and the world!

Boston College’s PhD in English

The PhD in English Program at Boston College prepares students for careers in academia or other English related fields. With a focus on critical thinking, writing, and research, the program explores  literature through abstract, cultural, and historical contexts. Students are able to focus on various literature periods, creative writing, and literary theory.. Working closely with renowned faculty, the program offers abundant resources and support services including fellowships and publishing opportunities. 

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • Focus of study: Creative writing, critical theory, and literary and cultural studies
  • What is included: Full tuition remission, health insurance, and a living stipend

Brown University PhD in Computer Science

Brown University offers a PhD program in Computer Science for students interested in a strong foundation in computer science theory and applications and opportunities to conduct research in collaboration with faculty and peers. Brown’s computer science department has research strengths in artificial intelligence, data science, cybersecurity, computer graphics, and theory. The program is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to conduct independent research in computer science and to prepare them for academic or industrial careers.

  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Focus of study: Algorithms, artificial intelligence, computer systems, databases, and more
  • What is included: Full tuition, health insurance, and living stipend

Cornell University PhD in Chemical Engineering 

Cornell University offers a PhD program in Chemical Engineering to provide students with a broad foundation in chemical engineering principles and their application to solving real-world problems. The program aims to train students in core courses in chemical engineering, including transport phenomena, thermodynamics, and reaction engineering, while providing them with opportunities to conduct original research. Students in the program have access to state-of-the-art research facilities, funding opportunities, and a supportive community of faculty and fellow students.

  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Focus of study: Chemical engineering principles and research topics including biotechnology, energy, materials science, and process systems engineering
  • What is included: Full tuition waiver, stipend, and health insurance

Duke University PhD in Literature

Duke University’s PhD program in literature prepares students for careers in academic research and teaching. The program offers a variety of courses in literary theory, criticism, and methodology, as well as opportunities to specialize in specific genres, periods, and cultures. The program also encourages interdisciplinary work, with opportunities to collaborate with scholars in other fields across the university. Graduates of the program have gone on to careers in academia, publishing, journalism, and other areas.

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Focus of study: Literary theory, research methods, and a range of cultural and literary texts
  • What is included: Five years of living stipend, tuition, and fees support as well as six years of health and dental insurance

Harvard University PhD Program in Biological Sciences in Public Health

The PhD program in Biological Sciences in Public Health at Harvard University is designed for students who want to pursue research in the field of public health with a focus on biological sciences. The program focuses on the intersection of biology and public health, specifically emphasizing understanding the biological mechanisms underlying disease and developing strategies to prevent and treat illness. PhD students receive a rigorous education in both biological and public health sciences, preparing them to become leaders in advancing our understanding of human health and disease.

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Focus of study: Cancer biology, environmental health, genetics, global health and infectious diseases.
  • What is included: Competitive funding packages, including tuition waivers, stipends, and health insurance

Johns Hopkins University PhD in Nursing

The PhD in Nursing program at Johns Hopkins University is designed to prepare nurse scientists who will conduct research to advance nursing science and improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The program is designed to be interdisciplinary, integrating knowledge from nursing, social and behavioral sciences, and biostatistics. PhD students may work as nursing faculty members, researchers, or policymakers, contributing to advancing nursing practice and developing nursing knowledge.

  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Focus of study: Aging and dementia care, cardiovascular and chronic care, community and public health, health systems and outcomes, and more
  • What is included: Full tuition with a stipend for the first three years of study

New York University PhD in Education

New York University offers a PhD in Education through its Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The program provides a solid foundation in education theory and research methods, including coursework, research apprenticeships, and independent research. Upon graduation, students are well-prepared to pursue careers in academia, research, policy, and leadership in educational organizations. They are also equipped with the skills and knowledge to contribute to developing and implementing policies and practices in education.

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Focus of study: Learning sciences, educational policy, educational technology, and curriculum development. 
  • What is included: Annual stipend, tuition coverage for required course work, and health insurance through the fifth year

Princeton University PhD in Mathematics

Princeton University offers a PhD program in mathematics that is designed to prepare students for careers in academia, industry, or government. The program aims to provide a rigorous and comprehensive mathematics education, emphasizing both the theoretical foundations and applications of the discipline. Students take advanced courses in various mathematical fields, such as algebra, geometry, analysis, topology, and applied mathematics. Princeton’s program in mathematics is widely regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious and rigorous programs.

  • Location: Princeton, New Jersey 
  • Focus of study: Algebraic geometry, mathematical physics, number theory, and topology
  • What is included: Full tuition and student health plan coverage

Rice University PhD in Business

Rice University offers a PhD in Business through its Jones Graduate School of Business, designed to prepare students for academic careers and research-oriented positions in industry and government. Students in the program take courses in microeconomics, econometrics, statistics, research methods, and business ethics. In addition to coursework and research, students in the program are encouraged to work as teaching or research assistants. Rice University’s PhD program provides students with a strong foundation in business theory and research methods, with opportunities to work with world-class faculty on cutting-edge research projects.

  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Focus of study: Accounting, finance, management, marketing, and strategic management
  • What is included: Waived tuition fees, a stipend to cover living expenses, health insurance, and may be eligible for research and travel funding to support their research projects

University of Chicago PhD in History 

The PhD program in History at the University of Chicago is a demanding but rewarding experience that prepares students for a career in academia as scholars or teaching in the field of history. The program focuses on developing students’ knowledge of cultural, intellectual, economic, political, and social history under the guidance of highly qualified faculty advisors. PhD students also have the opportunity to present their research at conferences and publish articles in academic journals.

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Focus of study: Ancient, contemporary, early modern, medieval, or modern history 
  • What is included: Tuition, student health insurance, and a stipend for living expenses and research support

University of Michigan PhD in Engineering 

The PhD in Engineering at the University of Michigan is a top-rated program that prepares students for research and academic careers in various engineering disciplines, including biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, and many more. PhD students are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to conduct independent research, develop new technologies, and advance the engineering field. The University of Michigan has a strong reputation for research and innovation, and the PhD program in Engineering provides students with ample opportunities to collaborate with faculty and industry partners.

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan 
  • Focus of study: Materials science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.
  • What is included: Tuition waiver, monthly living stipend, and health insurance 

University of North Carolina PhD in Media and Communication 

The PhD program in Media and Communication at the University of North Carolina provides students with advanced knowledge and skills in media and communication theories, research methods, and critical analysis. Students can tailor their studies to their research interests by choosing from a variety of electives and seminars offered by the department. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in academia, media organizations, research institutions, and other industries where communication skills and media literacy are highly valued.

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina 
  • Focus of study: Media and politics, journalism studies, digital media, global media, media effects, and cultural studies
  • What is included: Tuition and fees for three years, health insurance, a $20,000+ annual stipend, and support for research and travel

Frequently asked questions about fully funded PhDs

What does 'fully funded PhD' mean?

“Fully funded” means that the PhD program covers all the necessary expenses for a student, such as tuition fees, living expenses, and other academic costs.

Can international students apply for fully funded PhDs?

Yes, international students can apply for fully funded PhDs. However, funding opportunities for international students may be limited in some cases. Make sure to check with the program or funding agency for eligibility requirements.

How long does a fully funded PhD program take?

The length of a fully funded PhD program varies by country, institution, and field of study. In general, PhD programs take 4-6 years to complete.

Do I need to have a master's degree to apply for a PhD?

In some countries and fields, it is possible to apply for a PhD program directly after completing a bachelor’s degree. In other cases, a master’s degree may be required. Always carefully check the program requirements before applying.

What is the difference between a PhD and a professional doctorate?

A PhD is a research-focused degree that prepares students for careers in academia or research, while a professional doctorate is a practice-focused degree that prepares students for careers in professional fields such as medicine, law, or education.

Keep reading: PhD vs. Doctorate: Everything You Need to Know