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Graduate application process expenses


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Hi everyone, I know this will vary depending on how many graduate schools one applies to and how many interviews they were selected for but just maybe this will be of some use to those applying this fall and thereafter, especially since students in general tend to not have so much money so it would wise to prepare in advance. 

Would those who've already gone through the process give some type of ball park estimate, along with the number of schools applied to and the number of places they traveled to for interviews? 

I hope this isn't too prying  ! 

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I can only speak about my experience with applying to STEM programs. That being said here's what I can remember:


I applied to 7 programs in total:

- GRE: $200 + $20 for a prep book


- GRE scores sent: ~$27 per school it sent to (you get 4 scores sent for free on test day if you choose to use the service, so unless you tanked the exam, use this feature!)


- 7 PhD applications: fees ranged from $50 - $90 (I was able to get 2 of the application fees waived - look into these, I wish I'd been a bit more aggressive and saved some more money)


- Transcripts sent: my undergrad institute actually did these for free but the state college I took classes at during high school charged ~$20 per 5 schools. Some of the programs I applied to actually let me just upload an electronic version of my transcript (unofficial) for evaluation purposes and if I choose to attend I had to send my official transcripts. So check before you spend money sending your transcripts.


- Interview Weekends: I had an interview with every program I applied to and I accepted every one of them (partially out of relief that I was chosen) which was quite time consuming (definitely way your options before committing to these since they tend to run about 3 days each for most STEM programs). Usually the program covered all the fees such as plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. I did have to pay for parking at the airport but usually that's a very small price. For programs that are close enough that you could drive to, a lot of programs would just reimburse the applicant for the mileage driven (~$0.55/mile) but keep in mind these reimbursements take about 1-3 months to get back to you. 


Those are the major expenditures that I remember from my application cycle. Hopefully this helps you and other future applicants. 

Edited by eteshoe
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I applied to clinical psychology masters (2) and doctoral programs (5).



Test: $200

Scores: $27 * 4. I wasted one freebie on a school I ended up not applying to because I didn't meet minimum score requirements.



My school has these at about $7 a pop. I had to send one to each school plus buy a copy for myself because a couple schools wanted scanned copies.



Ranged from $35 to $65.



I didn't get any interviews at doctoral programs but I was invited to both masters. I would have been looking at over $1,000 each to attend in person (plane tickets were both about $900 round-trip, but this was an outlier as my university is remotely located). I scheduled phone interviews instead.


Total: ~$500


This application cycle I'm looking to apply to ten schools and am trying to save a solid grand to do it.

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Keep in mind that I am a Quebec resident (no need for a F-1 visa but need to take TOEFL).




Applied to 12 schools for physics... all amounts are in $US unless otherwise specified.


Physics GRE: $150

General GRE: $185

TOEFL: $240


GRE score reports: 12 @ $27 apiece = $324

TOEFL score reports: 12 @ $19 apiece = $228


Transcript translations: $CAN200

Hardcopy transcripts: 5 @ $CAN11 (the fifth one will be sent to Minnesota in due time but not yet)


Application fees: $760

  • Washington University in St. Louis: $45
  • Notre Dame: $75
  • Dartmouth: $50
  • Minnesota: $95
  • Michigan: $90
  • Princeton: $90
  • UPenn: $80
  • Tufts: $75
  • UChicago: $55
  • Columbia: $105

SEVIS fee: $200


F-1 Visa fee (if applicable): $160


Spent almost $2,000...

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I am a Canadian and applied 7 US schools and 1 Canadian school in the 2012 season. I lived in a town without an ETS testing center but still within the distance limit to another city that did have an ETS center so I did not qualify (although I didn't attempt this) to create a new testing center.


GRE costs (Subject + General), including travel and accomodations (for one test I was able to stay at a friend's apartment): $600


Test scores & Transcripts: $400


Application Fees: $800 (Canadian students almost never get application fee waivers for US schools)


SEVIS fee: $160 (Canadians do not need a visa but at least for J-1 status, we still have to pay the SEVIS fee, but I'm not sure if Canadians on F-1 status requires this too)


Total: ~$2000 for 8 schools


I did not have any expenses for the visits (no interviews in my field) as the schools covered these costs. In total, I visited 3 schools and I received about $1500 in travel reimbursements, which is about the cost of the applications if I don't factor in travel/accomodations for the GRE tests and the SEVIS fee. The three schools I visited also allowed me to visit places I wanted to see anyways and also meet up with friends in the program so it wasn't so bad.


I feel fortunate that I was able to spend this money but it did help that I was already a grad student receiving a generous stipend, had no loans from undergrad (yay for low Canadian tuition) and actually had money saved up from undergrad (yay for co-op work placement giving my full time research experience and decent income for 16 months). 

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I applied to six schools ranging from $50-$120 in application fees and didn't figure out how to apply for waivers until it was too late, so I paid in full, about $500 total


I paid $200 for the GRE, taking it once with no travel costs, and about $25 for the prep book, $225 total


I got four GRE scores sent for free and paid for two at $27 per score, $54 total


My school charges less on transcripts if you order a bunch at once ($5 for 1, $10 for two, +$2 for each additional), so I only paid $18 for transcripts total


My visit day costs were about $15 to pay for local subway transport - my flight cost was covered by the school I visited (just one), and I stayed with relatives for free, $15 total


Grand total: $837, which was just what I could afford and no more.

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I'm Canadian, and there's no GRE testing centre in my city, so that significantly increased my costs. Like TakeruK, I'm close enough to one that ETS doesn't care. I applied to 8 programs, 3 in Canada and 5 in the US. All figures are in Canadian dollars. At the time that I paid most of these costs, CAD was around 0.75-0.80USD.


Writing the GREs (general and subject, different test days) cost me almost $1000, because I had to travel to another city and get a hotel room (twice, once for each test) on top of the registration fees.


My university charges $10 per transcript. I needed one to scan for electronic upload on every application. Two of the programs I applied to wanted hard copies as part of the application as well, for a total of 5 transcripts ordered in the application process. I also had to send one to the school I accepted the offer from after. I also had to pay to send GRE scores, but only for 2 programs (the rest I used free reports from - I had to pay for 2 because I decided to apply to it after I had sent the general scores...), that's about $60 CAD I think.


I visited 5 programs. All travel and accomodation costs were paid for by the departments except for one for which I was out of pocket about $300. There's also the cost of food on some of the visits (some had food provided for every meal, some only for a few. In any case, airport food is expensive.) - lets call it $500 on visits? [Note: most costs were reimbursed, not covered upfront. So you need the funds available to buy plane tickets as appropriate. Most hotel costs were paid directly by the departments. Some reimbursements arrived within 2 or 3 weeks, others took more like 8!]


Application fees varied, but I think once I converted to CAD it cost about $800-1000 total.


This isn't really part of applying, but as an international student I also had to pay the $200 US SEVIS fee, and I had to pay $50 to get my I-20 couriered to me.


So, I guess it cost me on the order of $2500 CAD. I was lucky that I had these savings available - the costs can be really prohibitive, although of course the GRE can cost a lot less if you have a nearby testing centre.

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So, I guess it cost me on the order of $2500 CAD. I was lucky that I had these savings available - the costs can be really prohibitive, although of course the GRE can cost a lot less if you have a nearby testing centre.


For me I paid about ~$100 for travel from and to a testing center for the subject GRE since I took it in April in an attempt to save some stress. The nearby testing center only offered subject GRE in September... :(


Sometimes it is better to pay so that you can spread stress over time; I paid about $250 for this decision ($100 for travel, ~$150 in score reports). Luckily I was in a funded masters at the time.

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Hmm, good question. I applied to 4 MPH programs and 1 PhD program.


GRE: I think it was $140 when I took it, plus around $20 for a prep book.

SOPHAS costs $120 for the first schol + $45 for each additional school, so $120 + $90 = $210 + rougly $80 for the PhD app (which was not SOPHAS) = ~$300 for application fees

$3 for each transcript requested = $12.


I didn't have to travel for interviews and when I did travel after I got admitted, I had a scholarship that covered most of my costs and I stayed with people in town. So I probably didn't invest much more than around $500 for the entire shebang.


These days I would say PhD program applications are probably around $80-100 a piece, so a person applying to ~7 programs would probably spend $560-700 on application fees alone. The cost to send transcripts depends on how many colleges you attended and how much they charge you to send each one. You should get reimbursed for interviews.

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