Cost of PhD in the USA – A Complete Analysis

The United States of America is one of the most renowned study abroad destinations for PhD programs. There are 282 universities in the United States that award PhD degrees. It is a 4-6 year course, and the average cost of a PhD in the USA ranges from $28,000-$40,000 (INR 21,03,682 – 30,05,260). It is pricey if the students are unable to get a scholarship. The PhD research scholars are eligible for internships, scholarships, and various funding opportunities that make it a bit affordable. For those without a scholarship opportunity, the cost of a PhD in the USA., pre-arrival cost, living cost, and miscellaneous expenses during their stay become quite a burden. 

The USA is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious educational destinations with ample scope for students from all over the world. However, it is extremely important to plan the budget and the expenses before admission. Once you are sure of meeting the expenses, you can take admission and get your immigration formalities done. To give you a complete idea about the cost of a PhD in the USA for international students, we have broken down all the costs in a structured manner. 

Cost of living in the USA

While the United States is one of the most popular study destinations, it also comes with high tuition fees and living costs. You should not worry, as there are many forms of financial aid available. Most of the PhD students in the USA manage expenses with the fund from scholarships or internship programs. 

The living cost does not include the academic fee. The cost of living in the USA is comparatively higher than in any European country. While choosing the USA, the cost of living should be the first and foremost factor to consider. Various factors influence the cost of living like location, accommodation, food, utilities, lifestyle, and miscellaneous expenses. There are various types of accommodation available like rented apartments, dormitories, on-campus accommodation, homestays, shared apartments, and hotels. The accommodation cost is around $200 (INR 15,026) monthly, while the transportation would cost you around $50 (INR 3,756) monthly. Most universities and colleges offer on-campus accommodation for international students which is the most affordable option. 

You can also reside in an apartment close to your institution. The cost of living in the USA is around INR 4,40,000 INR to INR 8,80,000 each year. 

  • Accomodation: $200 (INR 15,026)
  • Transport: $50 (INR 3,756)
  • Average Electricity Bill in USA: $20 (INR 1,502)
  • Average Internet Bill USA: $427 (INR 32,081)
  • Mobile Phone Accessories USA: $50 (INR 3,756)
  • Stationery and Textbooks: $200 (INR 15,026)
  • Clothing: $100 (INR 7,513)
  • Movie Ticket Price in USA: $205 (INR15,402)
  • USA Restaurant: $75 (INR 5,635)

Tuition fees of the top PhD Universities in the US

American universities continuously top the charts of universities worldwide rankings. The US has public/state universities as well as private universities for PhD courses. The fee structure of public sector universities is comparatively less expensive than that of private universities. Below are some top universities for PhD and their fees –

  • University of Texas, Austin: USD 38,000 (INR 28,54,997)
  • University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign: USD 41,000 (INR 30,80,391)
  • Ohio State University: USD 27,000 (INR 20,28,550)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: USD 53,448 (INR 40,15,628)
  • Stanford University: USD 56,946 (INR 42,78,438)
  • Harvard University: USD 74,103 (INR 55,67,469)
  • California Institute of Technology: Fully funded
  • University of Pennsylvania: USD 41,000-43,000 (INR 30,80,391 – 32,30,654)
  • Yale University: Fully funded
  • Columbia University: USD 65,000 (INR 48,83,547)
  • Princeton University: USD 58,790 (INR 44,16,980)
  • University of Michigan: USD 12,691-25,575 (INR 9,53,494 – 19,21,488)
  • John Hopkins University: USD 33,534- 65,000 (INR 25,19,459 – 48,83,547)
  • Northwestern University: USD 149,512 (INR 1,12,33,060)
  • University of California, Berkeley: USD 80,990-141,000 (INR 60,84,900 – 1,05,93,541)
  • University of California, Los Angeles: USD 71,000-262,000 (INR 53,34,336 – 1,96,84,453)  
  • The University of Arizona: USD 53,600-134,400 (INR 40,27,048 – 1,00,97,673)
  • New York University: USD 124,304 (INR 93,39,146)
  • Duke University: USD 84,314 (INR 63,34,637)

English language examination cost

The US Government is strict about the English language proficiency test when it comes to immigration and study abroad programs for non-native English speakers. Universities will either accept the existing experience of studying in the relevant language or may require a certain score on a language test. A valid English language test score of TOEFL or IELTS is vital to get admission as well as visa and immigration. The cost of TOEFL is INR 13,780 and for IELTS it is INR 14,700. The tests assess and measure the English language proficiency skills among the PhD students, as English is the only mode of communication and instruction in PhD courses. 

University application cost

The university application fee is a refundable amount paid to the university at the time of application. The fees cannot be deferred and will be valid for a single application year. Some Universities have a small application fee, while others charge a hefty amount.

Some universities charge a small fee to process PhD applications. It will completely depend on the university you choose to pursue your PhD at. The average application cost ranges from INR 3,000 – INR 4,478. It depends on whether you are taking admission to a public or a private university. The application for PhD will be completed only when you submit the TOEFL scores. TOEFL allows 4 free university submissions. For each TOEFL score submission, you need to pay a fee of INR 1,489. If you have targeted more than 5-6 colleges, you should purchase the ‘TOEFL value packs’ for a low fee. Unless the TOEFL score is submitted for non-native English-speaking candidates, the application will not be accepted. 

Airfare cost

Airfares vary with time. One can get the lowest fares by booking 2 months before the date of the journey. The one-way cost of airfare ranges between INR 40,000 to 70,000 depending on the destination, airfare class, city, time, airline, and facilities you take. 

Health insurance cost

International students need valid health insurance for the entire duration of the course. The insurance will cover all the medical expenses of the student during their stay in the USA. It costs an average of USD 500-1,000 (INR 37,565 – 75,131) annually. 

Visa application cost

A valid student visa is the most important prerequisite to study in the USA. The F1 visa is the general student Visa. The cost of a visa application is INR 12160. The F1 visa is valid for courses with a duration of more than 6 months. 


A PhD degree from a US educational institution is recognized worldwide. International students must consider the complete pre-arrival and post-arrival costs till the end of the course. For more information related to the total cost of a PhD in the USA, get in touch with the study abroad experts of upGrad Abroad.

Also Read: 

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Here are 50 Interesting Facts about the USA

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A guide to settle in the USA from India!

All about the cost of studying in the USA!

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