How much do PhD programs cost?

PhD programs vary in cost depending on the school and the number of years required to finish the degree. Additionally, most public universities charge higher tuition to out-of-state students, usually a figure close to double the tuition charged to an in-state student. Private universities typically charge the same tuition to all students regardless of residency.

In addition to tuition and fees, you must also pay for basic living expenses like food, rent and transportation, which can vary widely depending on your location. Books and other supplies for your courses and research will add another line to your budget. Note that health insurance is often included as part of your tuition. However, it is important to confirm this in advance to avoid surprises.

All of these factors are important when thinking about what level of PhD program funding you need to prepare for. Leaving a PhD program early because you were unprepared for the costs would be a terrible thing, but with careful research and planning, you can prepare yourself to meet both the demands of PhD level research and the demands on your wallet.


Among the many PhD programs in the healthcare subject area, pharmaceutical science and immunology are quite popular and good representations of general tuition costs in the field. PhD programs in pharmaceutical science at leading public universities range from $10,000 per year to $15,000 per year for in-state students. As mentioned above, out-of-state students generally pay twice the tuition of in-state students. Tuition at private universities begins at $30,000 for pharmaceutical science programs.

For PhD programs in immunology, in-state students at leading public universities can expect to pay around $10,000 per year in tuition on average. However, some very good programs charge in the range of $7,000. Private universities generally begin at over $30,000 per year.

Business and Finance

Tuition costs for PhD programs in management and business administration vary widely depending on the school. Overall, tuition costs for very good programs at public universities range between $10,000 and $13,000 per year. Premier public and private universities begin around $20,000 per year. The Standford Graduate School of Business, near the top of the scale, charges almost $50,000 per year for its PhD program.

PhD programs in finance tend to be marginally more expensive than programs in management. Public universities in the middle of the scale typically charge between $12,000 and $16,000, while private school programs begin around $30,000.


A PhD in education administration at a good public university costs between $7,000 and $10,000. Leading public and private universities begin appearing at the $15,000 level and can rise well above $20,000. PhD programs in education research have similar tuition costs.

Public Service, Law and Government

Public policy and public administration are popular PhD programs in this area. Tuition costs at good public universities range from $7,000 to $10,000. Premier public university programs reach above the $20,000 threshold. The best private programs in public policy and public administration can top $40,000.

In the public health field, PhD programs at many public universities cost between $8,000 and $12,000. Premier public university programs begin at around $17,000, while private university tuition is generally over $30,000.

Technology and Computers

A wide range of good public university PhD programs in computer science and related fields have tuition rates in the range of $7,000 to $11,000. Many private university programs in these fields begin at around $20,000, with top programs charging in excess of $30,000.


Among the many specialties of engineering, several stand out. Chemical engineering programs at public universities cost between $8,000 and $12,000 per year. Top private universities charge in the $30,000 range. Those interested in PhD programs in materials science or mechanical engineering will find similar tuition costs.

Communication and Arts

In the communications field, public university PhD programs charge yearly tuition rates in the $8,000 to $11,000 range. Leading public university programs approach the $20,000 tuition level while the top private universities charge over $30,000 per year.

PhD programs in art subjects are comparable to all other fields. Art history programs at public universities cost between $10,000 and $15,000, while leading private schools charge rates between $30,000 and $40,000. Performance studies and theater PhD programs charge tuition rates in the $9,000 to $12,000 range. Programs at leading private universities rise into the $30,000 range.