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aeroHans

Phd without funding?

20 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I have been accepted to two schools(UCLA and University of Washington) in Aerospace PhD program without funding. Both are good enough for me in terms of the research interest but both of them didn't get me any funding.

Is it a good idea to enroll and look for funding after or should I just reapply next year?

 

 

Edited by aeroHans

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If you go without funding, you should be fully prepared to not be able to secure more funding next year. If they had funding for you, the time when they are the most likely to give it to you is when they're trying to recruit you; once you're there, there is less of an incentive to do things for you. Either way, you can't count on it, and it's better to plan for the worse outcome. Suppose you don't get more funding, then what happens? You spend the not insignificant amount of money for your first year, you spend most of that time worrying about debt, applying for grants and fellowships, and also applying to other graduate programs, and you do the work of a first-year. Then you're in debt and have to start over, possibly even redoing your first-year work, since many programs won't accept transfer credits (and even less so from someone who dropped out of their previous program). I personally wouldn't take that risk, but if you do, be aware that that's a very real possible outcome. 

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You can try and defer a year if they allow that, and apply for extrenal PhD funding and hope it comes through for next year I suppose.

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I don't think it is. I don't think attending a PhD program without funding is ever a good idea. From a purely financial perspective, borrowing for 5 years of a PhD program is likely to cost you $160,000 to $200,000. Even if you only have to borrow for two years, that's still $80K to $120K depending on the total program costs. Even engineers don't make enough to very comfortably repay that. That's leaving aside the fact that if it's customary to offer PhDs full funding in your field, your department not offering one to you is a show of a lack of confidence in you as a candidate, and that may follow you through the department.

If you do decide to consider it, though, it will be important for you to ask the faculty what the likelihood of you getting funded in later years is.

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@aeroHans I am very sorry that UCLA or University of Washington (Seattle) did not provide you with funding. I am in agreement with @fuzzylogician statements that you should be prepared to not have funding the second and future years.

I applied to UW (Seattle) because one of my undergraduate professors was very impressed with the university's programs and suggested I applied. Like all the other schools I intended to apply to, I did my research and thought I was very thorough in eliminating schools where FULL funding was not available for the duration of their programs.

I was thrilled when I got the invitation to interview and tour UW facilities. But with all the research I did, was surprised when I heard that funding could be a problem after the first year, unless you won an outside fellowship/ scholarship.

Upon returning home, I sent an email to UW stating that I no longer wished to be considered for admission because FUNDING was one of my TOP criteria when applying to schools. 

I would not enroll at a school that did not provide funding and take the chance that I MIGHT be able to secure funding in the following years. This move is very risky.

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Dude I'm in the same boat. I got into a PhD at Texas A&M University for fall 2014 without any financial offer. I was hoping if I accept the offer admission--frankly I had no better option, too-- I am able to manage to secure either RA/TA. But till now I haven't been able to get funding neither TA nor RA. Without funding I hardly make ends meet and I think it's really unfair.  

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No funding = no attendance, imo. I would NEVER go to a school without funding.

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Posted (edited)

Is this enough of a trade/professional degree, like an MD, MBA, or JD, that you can justify the cost with higher compensation down the road?  

The opportunity cost (= $200k in checks written + five years' foregone wages) makes that worth a little thought.

 

Edited by Concordia

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This is my thought, but I don't believe it's unique. I doubt anyone gets a Ph.D. for monetary gain. In many ways, it's a very personal degree, as we set our minds in competition against the subject. In some fields, such as English (my field), a Ph.D. is designed to solely produce an academic and scholar. Scholarship and philosophical thinking are part of every civilization, necessary to keep the barbarians at bay. In the sciences, the additional knowledge is needed in research. One can't teach upper levels of higher ed. without a Ph.D.

Just my thoughts, but not unique.

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True enough, and I am about to start an unfounded DPhil in history.  BUT... it's only for three years, and I won't be carrying debt around when I am done.  I am also old enough to have given up the notion of tenure-track gigs.  

If OP is in my position, then no problem.  If he's going to be exiting with the equivalent of a good-sized mortgage without a house and needing a job to pay it all off, then that is different.

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7 hours ago, cowgirlsdontcry said:

This is my thought, but I don't believe it's unique. I doubt anyone gets a Ph.D. for monetary gain. In many ways, it's a very personal degree, as we set our minds in competition against the subject. In some fields, such as English (my field), a Ph.D. is designed to solely produce an academic and scholar. Scholarship and philosophical thinking are part of every civilization, necessary to keep the barbarians at bay. In the sciences, the additional knowledge is needed in research. One can't teach upper levels of higher ed. without a Ph.D.

Just my thoughts, but not unique.

That may be true in certain fields that are less lucrative, but I don't believe one needs to be a martyr for science when most scientific disciplines are quite lucrative and there should be money available to give back to those who conduct research. It is quite rare to hear of a PhD student in the sciences who does not receive funding.  IMO, martyrdom is best left for those donating their bodies to science. 

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That's the other thing.  As said above, the relevant departments may be sending a really odd signal if they aren't giving him funding for science/engineering.   

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1 hour ago, thelionking said:

That may be true in certain fields that are less lucrative, but I don't believe one needs to be a martyr for science when most scientific disciplines are quite lucrative and there should be money available to give back to those who conduct research. It is quite rare to hear of a PhD student in the sciences who does not receive funding.  IMO, martyrdom is best left for those donating their bodies to science. 

I have full funding at the University of Alabama for my Ph.D. studies. I'm just saying, I'm not getting a Ph.D. in English for the money. It's more about me and teaching. As I said, "I doubt anyone gets a Ph.D. for monetary gain." There are many ways to make a pile of money and that's what Concordia was talking about--not the funding for the Ph.D. itself. This is a second career for me, I was in law the first time and decided to do something that's not quite as stressful for the rest of my life. I have outside income and am not concerned about a tenure track job. Just want to teach others what I love best and do research/writing.

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Posted (edited)

A PhD student without funding is like a dog with a precious bone but without teeth. It is like a gun aiming at the enemy without a bullet. Although, the joy of being admitted may seem salivating, considering the cost of living, cost of research, tuition fees, and the very fact that somes years will be committed into it makes it a daring action to take. Why spend so much (time and money) on an investment of 3  or 4 years without any guarantee of a future help.  Learn from @Zaphyr's experience.

Edited by Edandy

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DON'T DO IT!

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Doing PhD is not fair... I would not wait for funding. So there two options: to look for the other PhD programmes with finding or taking mortgage (or something similar to it) 

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Third option - do what I did

Take a full time job at a university, use the tuition benefits to pay for the education. This is a pretty standard benefit for most schools, most will even pay for your kids also (which was the main reason I took the job in the first place).

I finished my BA this way, full tuition paid by employee benefits, I only needed to pay for books and fees. Most of the masters went the same way, until I tipped over the salary limit for 100% tuition, and got cut back to 50% for the final 3 semesters. The PhD is currently partially funded by employee benefits, and I have been promised a part time teaching position which will cover the remainder starting in January.

It might take me a bit longer by going part time, but overall the costs were less than making a car payment.

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I'm surprised they accepted him in the aerospace Phd program and not put him in the masters to start if not chosen for funding. For my university in aerospace engineering, they would enroll you only in a masters program if an advisor didn't select you. If you had high grades and got an advisor to fund you (and give you a project), then they would move you into the Phd direct program. Honestly, even in aerospace engineering it is a competition to get funding (TAs or RAs are a competition to get). In addition, a lot of aerospace PhD projects require validation, meaning you need an experiment with equipment and guidance from an advisor (so it's not likely to do this unfunded). Like others I wouldn't take a PhD chance without funding, but I can see why some choose to do a masters unfunded. Do a masters unfunded (and fight the competition to get a RA or TA), or get more experience in a industry job and apply again, or find a job that will fund your MS/PhD education (not many do for aerospace PhD but mine does).

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Having just gone through what turned out to be a pretty successful application cycle, I had ample opportunity to think about this. Ultimately, a program admitting you without funding to a PhD program is sending a signal that, for whatever reason, they're not invested in you as much as they are the people they fund. That right there would be sufficient to remove such a program from my consideration. I believe that one should be honest with oneself when evaluating career paths, and frankly being unable to attract funding at a given program should give one pause about whether that school is the right choice for them at this moment (as this can and frequently does change over time). It also sends a signal that your application has potential and may be able to be improved and attract a funded offer to that institution in future application cycles. It would be unfortunate for someone who could have improved their application, reapplied, and received a funded offer to a given program in the future to accept a non-funded offer now- that's potentially upwards of $250,000 in opportunity costs. 

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