5 answers

Is the graduate school supposed to pay for you to attend?

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I have heard people say that if the graduate school is not paying for you to come then something is wrong. Does it depend on the school, or major, or something else? I don't understand how this works or what it really means. #psychology #graduate-school #clinical-psychology #counseling-psychology

5 answers

Carole’s Answer


From my knowledge of Graduate school they do not really pay for you, but there are grants and sometimes internships available . You will end up paying for some of the grants for several years. I would suggest that each college has some financial benefits for their students and the best idea I have is for you to do some research on colleges that you are interested in and ask about the financial aspect of graduate school. Sometimes you can get some scholarships, but the only people that might be able to answer that question is the financial aid dept. or sometimes counselors have inside information on this topic. Example: My daughter went back to grad school at the same college she went to for her BA degree. She did not have to take as many classes as others because she had already taken some, and they gave her a small amount of money for her grad program. So I would think you would want to make your first stop on the campus that you graduated from. It is important to do some research for the schools you are interested in because each school might have different rules for their Psychology Program.

Unfortunately, the school I will be graduating from is not a grad school, but I will look more closely into the financial departments of other schools. Thank you, this helped. Angela A.

Keith’s Answer


Hi Angela,

It depends on whether you are referring to a Master's program or a PhD program. A Master's program works like undergrad--you pay tuition, and primarily take classes.

A PhD program will pay you a stipend. Technically there will be tuition, but it is paid by your advisor to the university. Getting a PhD is much more like a job than being a student. You work for an advisor, who pays the costs of supporting you--stipend, tuition, insurance, etc. I see you are interested in psychology; here is a blurb from the Psychology Department at Northwestern University:

All Ph.D. students in the Psychology Department receive full funding (tuition and stipend) for five academic years (including four summers). Many graduate students also receive outside funding through NSF fellowships and other awards. Students work closely with faculty in the Psychology Department in class work and in the laboratory. In addition, students may take courses and do research with faculty in other departments at Northwestern University, including those in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education and Social Policy, and the Medical School. Many students are involved in interdisciplinary research.

Okay, I also see the difference between a Ph.D. and a master's degree now. Thank you! Angela A.

Kiran’s Answer


The graduate school is not required to pay for you to attend; however, many public universities offer assistantships for graduate students. Gaining admission into many of these programs for clinical psychology is competitive because they only take in a handful of students per year. If you go to a public university in a city most people don't really want to live in and they have a decent program there (you want to aim for APA accredited programs if you want doctorate), you will likely get in if you have good grades and an above average GRE score. You will likely land an assistantship which will usually waiver your tuition AND give you a living stipend. It helps to let the director of the program know you are looking for financial assistance via assistantship. It may not happen immediately but positions pop up eventually.

These assistantships can be teaching, research, or graduate assistantships. The graduate ones require you work in one of the offices on capus (like the office of graduate studies) for a certain amount of hours each week. If you gain admission into a Ph.D. program at a public university you will likely have a research and/or teaching assistantship.

If you choose to go to a private university for graduate school get ready to take out student loans unless you get some kind of scholorship. There are many organizations outside of the university that will give out scholorships. There is nothing wrong with you if you have to do this, it's just the way it is with private universities. You may still find a job on campus but your tuition will definately not be waivered.

Hope this helps.

Thank you! Angela A.

Sara’s Answer


You are correct that it depends on the school and the program, but unlike undergraduate degrees most graduate programs will not give you a scholarship just to attend the school. Instead, they offer assistantships which will cover tutition costs (with a possible stipend) in exchange for you working at the university as a research assistant, teaching assistant or some combination thereof. When I went to graduate school I worked as Residence Hall Director. Although each university sets up their assistantships differently, this overview from Cornell University provides a good example of what they might look like:


Some graduate programs will guarantee you an assistantship, others maybe more competitive and only offer them to the top tier of admitted students, and still others have an entirely separate application process outside of graduate school admission.

Keep in mind the work expectations with assistanships can be anywhere from 20-40 hours a week on top of classes and homework, so its not "free" money but usually the work experience is directly related to your degree. Also you often have to be a full time student to qualify for an assistantship.

Many employers may also offer tuition assistance for graduate school but they may have restrictions on schools you can attend, programs you can study, and number of years after earning the degree that you must continue to work for them.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of options out there if your looking for graduate school funding. I wish you all the best as you continue your education!

Thank you! This cleared up some confusion. Angela A.

Mark’s Answer


Love the notes on PhD vs Masters above, but I think you may be hanging onto a generalized saying and misunderstanding it at the same time. The saying is, "If you have to pay for graduate school yourself, you shouldn't be going" but the graduate school isn't the one who pays. They may give you an option to earn some decent money as a TA to offset the cost, but it won't be enough to cover tuition. Most large companies will pay for MBAs and other masters' degrees once you have a few years of experience and there are plenty of grants for top students to go immediately following undergrads(must have high GPA, likely some undergrad research, and be in a well funded field) and scholarships for certain need based individuals(must also be high performers). However, this does not hold true for every degree, nobody is going to pay for you to go to medical or law school because those careers pay enough upon graduation for you to take out loans.

Thanks, I think I understand more now. So no one is going to pay as I go to graduate school (or for the entire cost of tuition) but there are options to help assist in some of those costs (like assistantships or a scholarship). This also depends on whether I go for my masters or PhD. Thank you, this did help me. Angela A.