How Much Does a Doctorate Degree Cost?

There are many types of doctorate degrees, and students may seek a doctorate to enter or advance a professional career, begin residency in the medical field, continue with scientific research or enter academia. Enrolling in a doctorate program requires a significant investment - sometimes as much as $200,000 for five years of study.

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The Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree

According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average net price of a doctorate degree at a public school in the 2007-2008 school year reached $23,200 each year. Private school tuition during the same year rose to $35,800 annually. A typical doctoral program takes five full-time years to complete, bringing the total cost to roughly $123,500-$181,500, depending on whether attendance is at a public or private school (nces.ed.gov).

How to Pay for a Doctorate Degree

NCES reports that over half of all doctoral students attend school full-time and 93% received some form of financial assistance in 2007-2008. Many lending companies, non-profit organizations and employers offer financial aid to help students pay for their education.

Preferred Options

Fellowships, grants and scholarships do not need repayment, but often come with strict eligibility requirements. Many schools offer annual stipends, assistantships and on-campus teaching jobs to help a student fund his or her education. Doctoral students should look into any type of free aid available before applying for loan assistance.

Student Loans

Student loans from public and private lending institutions offer additional means of financing graduate school. Underprivileged students may find federal interest-free loans that may offer deferment of payment for a period of time after graduation. The 2008 NCES study stipulated that money received from student loans covered approximately 35% of the tuition with the remainder covered by work programs, grants and other types of free aid.

Salaries of Doctorate Degree Graduates

In July 2014, PayScale.com estimated the median salaries for Ph.D. degree holders based on the type of employment. University professors earned a median salary of $68,908 per year. Outside of academia, corporate employees grossed a yearly median income of $101,831, followed closely by self-employed entrepreneurs who earned approximately $91,474 annually. In addition to the education and training a doctoral degree provides, salaries are also contingent on the number of years of experience an employee brings to the position.

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  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
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  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
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  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts

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