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How will funding cuts effect Ph.D positions


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All funding from NSF and NIH is being cut.  Most programs are accepting fewer grad students this year, especially those having a reputation for fully funding students every year.  Most programs I've heard about are accepting less than 1/2 the students they take in a normal year.  And interestingly, I've heard that the number of applicants is way up in 2013.  I'm wondering if people are just applying to more schools, thinking it will give them better odds of getting in somewhere.  And it seems to me that the schools  are having a hard time with this as well.  This year seems particularly late in notifying students, especially masters applicants.  In addition everyone in the research lab where I work on campus has already received rejections.  They applied to bigger schools that I did, but they all have lots of research experience and better GRE's than I do.  However, even though I have been accepted academically, I have yet to receive any funding.  So that's still a "no" in my book.

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I actually don't think they'll change significantly at most research universities. At smaller or less funded universities, it'll probably be down, but at tier 1 and other larger places, I think the number of PhD students is actually continuing to grow. Most departments there have other sources of funding for student stipends, etc. and are either staying constant (maybe small reductions) or actually expanding.


The real losers from the funding crunch are the new and younger principal investigators. They aren't tenured yet and likewise aren't in situations where they would be guaranteed funding (many PhD programs), and are the ones under pressure to produce so they can get tenure. Ouch.


EDIT: Another group of losers from the funding issues would be Masters' students, but in general, not PhD students. The reality is there are not enough *qualified* applicants for the number of PhD positions available, which is increasing even in this budget crisis. The sort of irony here is that in the bad economy, getting a funded PhD is actually one of the best bets; you get your degree by the time the economy should get better and you get a stable, guaranteed salary while doing it. It's not going to make you rich, but you get stability.

Edited by bamafan
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