How to Get PhD Funding?

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PhD Funding

Having a PhD degree is an essential requirement for a scholar looking to have a stable career in academics. Getting selected for a PhD is a difficult process, you need to go through tough exams and interviews. But the story doesn’t end with being selected, you also need a PhD funding source to sponsor your research. So, if you are wondering how you can get PhD funding, read through the blog for details about PhD funding in various countries.

External Funding for PhD Students

To find your golden ticket for pursuing a PhD, there are various ways such as postgraduate loans, fellowships, etc. Let’s check the 6 keys that can help you get a PhD funding.

  • Postgraduate loan: A Postgraduate Loan can support the tuition fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master’s course. 
  • Studentship: A studentship or PhD scholarship is a popular form of funding for PhD students across the world. There are many universities offering different types of scholarships for students to ease the financial pressure. Some of which include merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships, or specific scholarships. 
  • Research Council Grant: Research council grants are non-repayable amounts that cover the cost of tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant to support students They usually cover your three or four years of studying. Depending on the study program, and academic performance, the Studentships offered can cover either three or four years of your five or six-year PhD program. If you are planning to pursue PhD in the UK, Research Council grants should be your first port of call when seeking any form of PhD funding. 
  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding means asking for support from family, friends, or any trusted person to fund your studies. It might be difficult but you must be able to lay out the benefits and importance of your studies.
  • Charities: There are various charities that can help provide funding for your PhD. These organizations might not be able to cover everything, students can combine multiple sources of funds from charities. They can incorporate it into what’s known as ‘portfolio funding’.
  • Employer sponsorship: If you are working in a company, you can use the employer sponsorship by pointing out how studying a PhD will not just benefit you, but the company as well. You must be dedicated and point out the essential details about how long is the PhD for and what is your research topic.

Also Read: PhD After MBA

Types of Funding for PhD

Now that you know where PhD money comes from, consider how this looks from the perspective of a student. Again, we are generalising, but there are approximately three types of funding situations:

  • Fully-Funded PhDs: Students who are fully sponsored are as fortunate as the word implies. They have a complete studentship that covers their PhD fees as well as most of their living expenses and other expenses. They’re probably not drinking champagne every night, but they don’t have to be concerned about the cost of their PhD.
  • Partially-Funded PhDs: Students who are partially sponsored receive a partial scholarship or studentship (typically contributing to fees or living costs, but not both). They must usually supplement their money with additional awards and/or rely on some of their own savings or earnings.
  • Self-Funded PhDs: Self-funded students do not receive major support and must pay for their PhDs through a mix of student loans (which must be returned), savings, or earnings.

Also Read: PhD Scholarships in India

Plan of Action for PhD Funding

Understanding how PhD funding works can help you make sense of a (possibly) befuddling array of alternatives. But how do you proceed from here?

The route described here is quite general. It is assumed that you are just beginning your funding hunt (perhaps while working on your entire PhD application). You’re probably already halfway there, in which case you can skip a few steps.

  1. Speak with your supervisor (if possible)– It’s preferable not to approach a possible supervisor only to discuss money, but if you’re already in contact with one, it makes sense to seek their advice on your quest. They’ll know what’s worth focusing on and what isn’t, and they may also be aware of special funders or scholarships for your subject.
  2. Begin by looking for financed projects– Many PhD studies are advertised with funding attached. They’re significantly more common in STEM fields, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any in English, Philosophy, or Sociology. When you find one, your search for funding becomes much easier.
  3. Look for studentships and PhD bursaries separately– You may be considering proposing your own PhD topic or applying for an advertised study without funding (or with money for which you are ineligible). In any case, the next step is to seek a studentship or scholarship to ‘attach’ to your PhD. Your university is probably the best place to look for one. They will give out their own awards, but they will also give out government cash or larger philanthropic scholarships and bursaries.
  4. Look at prospects with businesses, industries, or outside funders– In some fields, this should be step #1, but you’ll know (or your supervisor will tell you) if that’s the case. Otherwise, if you’ve gotten this far without getting complete funding, this approach is worth a shot. Consider relevant companies or groups that might be interested in your research or its findings. Common sense can guide you here: an automotive firm is unlikely to pay for your PhD in eighteenth-century lyric poetry, and the Arts Council is unlikely to assist you build a new electric car.
  5. Create a fundraising portfolio– By this point, you’ve shifted from seeking complete funding to seeking partial funding (at least for the time being). However, there are still many choices open to you in the shape of modest PhD funding grants and cost exemptions. Your university may be able to assist you in this regard, either through a fee reduction or a partial scholarship. It’s also a good time to approach smaller charities and trusts (of which there are plenty).
  6. Consider self-funding carefully- It is entirely possible to fund your own PhD, particularly if you work in an area that allows for flexible working and cheaper research costs (the Arts and Humanities are a prime example, but there are others). However, self-funding is difficult. PhD loans and part-time work can help cover some of your fees and day-to-day expenditures, but you’ll never be able to disregard the financial side of things entirely.

Studying PhD in India and Abroad

A PhD is perhaps the most important degree for a career in academic research, therefore it is very important to choose a good university to pursue your degree. If you are looking to apply for a PhD in India, here is a list of the top universities you can opt for according to the NIRF 2023 rankings:

Indian Institute of Science1Bengaluru
IIT, Madras2Chennai
IIT, Delhi3Delhi
IIT, Bombay4Mumbai
IIT Kharagpur5Kharagpur

Many students prefer to get their PhD degrees from universities abroad. If you are one of them, below is a list of the best universities worldwide according to the QS World University Rankings 2023:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)1United States
Stanford University3United States
Harvard University5United States
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)6United States
University of Oxford4United Kingdom

Studying in Canada can not only provide you with PhD funding but also with a great career ahead in research. Here are some popular PhD in Canada with Scholarship options for you!

Cost of a PhD Degree

There is no fixed cost of getting a PhD degree, it varies both university and country-wise. In India, getting a PhD is considerably cheaper. Govt-funded institutions charge much less than private institutes. A PhD degree in India can approximately cost anywhere between Rs. 2000 to more than Rs. 20000 per year. 

The cost is much higher if you opt for universities in the UK or the US. The approximate annual cost for a PhD degree in the UK for international students is around £18000, while in the US it can go much higher- around $28000 to 40000. Germany is a much cheaper option, with the semester fees being around €250. But there is no need to get discouraged by the high costs, there are various sources for PhD funding that you can avail yourself of for your research.

How to Get PhD Funding?

For a PhD, the main issue remains its funding. There are various universities, councils and organisations that offer PhD funding to qualified students. Other than that, there are specific scholarships too. Here we list down some of the sources from where you can get funding for your PhD.

Scholarships and Fellowships

Scholarships are financial grants given to students for further studies or research work. There are many scholarships and fellowships available for PhD scholars both in India and abroad which provide full or partial funding depending on the amount granted. For getting a scholarship, the candidate has to qualify for the requirements, which may include an exam or a brilliant research proposal. Here is a list of a few scholarships for Indian students you can apply for:

PhDScholarships in IndiaInternational Scholarships
UGC-NET JRF FellowshipCharles Wallace India Trust Scholarships (UK)
CSIR UGC-NET JRF FellowshipOxford and Cambridge Society of India (OCSI) Scholarships
Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund ScholarshipsSaltire Scholarships (Scotland)
Google PhD Fellowship India ProgramRhodes Scholarships at Oxford University for International Students (UK)
Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research FellowshipsFriedrich Naumann Foundation Scholarship for International Students (Germany)
ICHR Junior Research Fellowships (JRF)Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Scholarships in Germany for International Students (Germany)

Here are some more PhD Scholarships for you!

Research Council Grants

There are Research Councils for specific fields and disciplines all over the world which support research in their respective fields. Research councils grant funds for research and these can be availed by PhD students.

Some of the research councils in India which provide PhD funding are:

  • Council of Industrial and Scientific Research
  • Indian Academy of Sciences
  • Indian Council of Historical Research
  • Indian Council for Philosophical Research
  • Indian Council for Agricultural Research
  • Indian Council for Social Sciences Research
  • Indian Council of Medical Research

In the UK the research councils have been grouped to form an umbrella organisation known as the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). National Research Councils in many countries like the US, Canada, and Italy provide research support. Similar organisations exist all over the world and so, you can apply for PhD funding from the respective council’s website.

Academic Institutions and Universities

The best way to fund your PhD is to receive stipends from your university. Many universities provide full or partial PhD funding, and such details are generally available on their respective websites. Universities in the UK mostly provide partial funding for research to PhD scholars, while few universities offer full funding. Many universities in the US offer stipends that cover all the costs to be incurred.

In India, registered PhD scholars not availing of any other scholarship or fellowship are entitled to receive a basic stipend from the university. Thus a major number of universities provide funding to their PhD scholars, all you need is to check the official website for the details before applying.

Must Read: Engineering Scholarships

Funding Organisations and Studentships

Other than academic institutions and research councils, various other organisations provide funds to PhD scholars in India and abroad. These scholarships provided by the organisations are a major source of funds for PhD scholars worldwide. For example, in Germany, more than 20000 organizations (both public and private) provide PhD funding to international students. 

PhD scholars can also opt for studentships that require them to work as teaching or research assistants and do their own research. Studentships provide a good opportunity to gather relevant work experience along with providing funds for your research.

PhD Scholarships in India

Students who wish to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in India can avail themselves of the various scholarships and funds provided by the government and private organizations. Here are a few of the scholarships that provide PhD funding in India.

  • Prime Minister Fellowship for Doctoral Research
  • Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund Scholarships
  • Physical Research Laboratory Junior Research Fellowship
  • Google PhD Fellowship India Program
  • ICHR Junior Research Fellowships (JRF)
  • ICSSR Doctoral Research Fellowship
  • Maulana Azad National Fellowship
  • NCERT Doctoral Fellowship for PhD
  • CSIR-UGC JRF NET Fellowship
  • DBT-JRF Fellowship
  • FITM – AYUSH Research Fellowships Scheme

How to Get PhD Funding in the USA?

Pursuing a PhD in the USA can open numerous opportunities for students. Here are a few government and university scholarships to get PhD funding in the USA.

How to Get PhD Funding in Germany?

While state-funded institutions charge no tuition fee for native and international students, there are various scholarships provided for PhD funding in Germany. 

Explore German Scholarships for PhD Programs

How to Get PhD Funding in Canada?

Another sought-after country for PhD is, Canada. The country provides many facilities for postgraduate studies. Here are a few ways to get PhD funding in Canada through government and private institutes.

Benefits of Studying PhD Abroad

For the students thinking of pursuing a PhD, a matter of concern remains whether they should pursue their PhD in India itself, or try getting their degree abroad. For a PhD degree, the most popular countries include the UK, the US and Germany. If you are apprehensive about whether you should get your degree abroad or not, here are some benefits that you can get from abroad:

  • Universities abroad offer a huge choice of specialization within a particular subject.
  • You get a chance of getting global exposure which opens up a lot of opportunities.
  • You get to study in the top international institutes.
  • You get a chance to study a specially designed syllabus according to global standards.
  • You get to study under some of the best instructors in the field.

Points to Keep in Mind

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how PhD funding works and where to begin your search. We encourage you to spend some time reading through our more thorough funding recommendations, but here are a few general pointers to keep in mind as you get started:

  • Funding situations and statuses fluctuate, and most of the time for the better! Although you may not be awarded a full studentship in your first year, many sponsors will consider applications from current students.
  • PhDs are time-consuming, and just because your funding situation may improve does not guarantee that it will. Even if you’re trying not to, you should be able to finish your doctorate if you start out self-funding.
  • Living expenditures are usually the most difficult challenge – PhD fees are fairly modest (at least in comparison to other degrees) and might be as little as £4,000-5,000. However, there is more to the cost of a PhD than tuition. You’ll need to fund your research for several years (see above). This is actually the most critical area for funding.
  • The part-time study makes things simpler, not cheaper – going part-time would often cut your annual PhD fees in half and make it easier to work alongside your research. However, it will lengthen your PhD and incur additional maintenance costs.
  • There are a number of exceptions, but anything that isn’t a complete studentship can usually be supplemented with additional grants or loans. Basically, unless it states otherwise, you can probably do it. This is crucial in developing a funding portfolio.
  • Funding changes – in the last several years, the UK has witnessed the introduction of PhD loans and the announcement of government studentships for overseas students. When it comes to PhD financing, staying current might literally pay off.


Q1. How do you get a funded PhD?

Ans. A PhD funding strategy
1 Speak with your supervisor (if possible).
2 Begin by looking for financed projects.
3 Look for individual studentships and PhD bursaries.
4 Look at prospects with businesses, industries, or outside funders.
5 Try to create a funding portfolio.
6 (With caution) explore self-funding.

Q2. Is it possible to get a fully funded PhD?

Ans. A fully financed PhD programme often provides the student with complete tuition reimbursement as well as a stipend to help pay the cost of living while pursuing the degree. The financial requirements for various programmes differ. Some students may be awarded a “no-strings-attached” fellowship.

Q3. Who is eligible for PhD fellowship?

Ans. In addition to the requirements listed above, the candidate must have passed the GATE/GPAT within the last five years. SC/ST/PH candidates must have a CGPA of 7.0 on a scale of 10 or above, whereas general candidates must have 75% or higher and reserved candidates must have 70% or higher.

Hope this blog was useful in addressing your concerns about PhD funding. If you are looking for options to pursue a fully-funded PhD abroad, our team at Leverage Edu can help you with selecting the perfect university as per your requirements.

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