Reasonably Priced PhD Programs

  1. I am wondering which PhD programs in the US are most reasonably priced, while at the same time maintaining a reputation for excellence. For example, which state schools of nursing are the least expensive, or offer to pay full tuition and room and board in exchange for some sort of teaching requirement? I prefer to relocate to a medium-sized city with warmer weather, although I would also consider an online degree.
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   llg
    PhD pricing is not that straightforward. So it is hard to quote a specific price and "shop" in that way. Most programs offer fellowships, etc. that reduce the costs. The more expensive "price tag" may actually be cheaper because of the fellowships you can get.

    Also, that's not the way to pick a PhD program. At that level, it is essential to find a program that is a good match for your research interests, philosophy, and career goals. I suggest you focus on those three things and develop a list of possibilities. Then talk with them and find out about the financial situation to help you make the final decision.

    With all schools having websites, you can do a lot of exploring without having to invest much time or money. Look at their curricula, the research interests of their faculty, etc. Look at which authors/researchers are doing the most work (and publishing) within your field. With whom would you like to study? Which program has a curriculum that appeals to you? etc. Start there. Then add the money factor.
  4. by   UVA Grad Nursing
    I concur with llg (as I so often do!).

    A PhD program focused upon being a researcher and starting on the pathway to be an expert in your field. Your match with a mentor in your field (and subfield) is the most important factor to look at. Whether the school has a pretty campus or a winning football team should have no importance at all --- it really comes down to who is the go-to expert in your field and does she/he take on PhD students as mentees. You will likely learn more from a mentor that you have frequent contact with (weekly meetings, serve on a research project/team, etc) than someone in an online program who you see rarely.

    I made the mistake of selecting a PhD program that was in my town. My field of interest was contemporary Chinese politics (my MA thesis was on Chinese nuclear politics and the United Nations), and I did my PhD in political science (I am not a nurse). There was no one on faculty at my PhD program who taught or researched on China. So I was assigned someone whose field was German elections. Yes, it was still political science. But he could not guide me in my project or connect me with his colleagues who were also the world's experts on European electoral politics. I was left very much on my own to network to other experts, to locate data sources, and to find research funds for my dissertation project.

    Now I know that you are studying nursing and not politics, but bear with me with my story. Le's say that your research interest is smoking cessation among Hispanic teens. What good does it do you to be mentored by someone whose research field is LVADs or forensics or midwifery? About as much as it did me to be assigned a political scientist of Germany when I wanted to become a China expert. My advisor was a great man and a great professor, but it was a poor match for my goals and needs.

    I've been advising prospective doctoral students for several decades. Regardless of the discipline (economics, chemistry or nursing), my advice is the same. When you to look at articles in PubMed or to a professional conference and hear presentations, where are your eyes and ears drawn? Who are the authors and presenters that you aspire to want to read and hear? Who is doing the cuttting edge science in your specific area? Who would you want to have a personal mentored relationship with? That is where you should consider to go to school. Chances are excellent that the top people also have funding for PhD students or their departments do. My program at UVa happens to provide full funding for all PhD students. But do not make a choice based on locale or money alone if there is no research/resource match.
  5. by   elkpark
    I agree with the two posters above. Pursuing a graduate degree is not like shopping for underwear, and whichever is the cheapest is fine. You need to find a program with people who share your research interests and can guide and mentor you. And funding is a whole different ball game for PhD programs than other degrees. Best wishes!
  6. by   llg
    Thanks for sharing your story, UVA Grad Nursing. I hadn't read that story before and found it quite interesting.

    I had some similar issues in my PhD program. When I began my PhD program search, my field of interest (the interface between nursing and technology) was not really available. It was just an emerging topic and no school was really prepared to accept a student with that focus area. So I went to a program that had a curriculum that matched me to a tee -- emphasizing philosophy, theory, and research methodolgy in general, rather than focused on specific topics. I LOVED my courses, but they led to a dissertation that didn't quite fit in with the rest of the world and the absence of a mentor who could help me with the next career steps. With graduation, I suddenly found myself "out there on my own," all alone, with no sense of where to go and what to do next.

    So I have floundered a bit career-wise since then -- earning a good living as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist, but not "fulfilling my scholarly potential" and feeling frustrated (and a little like a failure) by that. I had been considered one of the top students in my PhD cohort, but I didn't successfully launch that academic career that is the expectation. Sometimes, I am satisfied with how things worked out. Sometimes, I wonder how my career and life might have been different had I found a different fit for my PhD work that would have led to more career opportunities.
  7. by   InformaticsRN.MA
    Thanks for the feedback everyone:-)
    I will definitely research each institution and the scholarly strengths and weaknesses of each program will be at the top of my to-do list.
    Primarily I was looking for some input about which nursing schools offering PhD degrees are well-regarded, yet reasonably priced.
    If anyone received an especially good fellowship package, or highly recommends the state school they attended, I'd be very interested to know both the name of the school, along with its pluses and minuses.
  8. by   llg
    Well-regarded in what, exactly? What is your particular research interest? That's what we are trying to say. A school might be terrific in one focus area and terrible in another. Where are the big research programs in your particular specialty focus?

    The question can't be answered well "in general." You have to identify your focus area to locate the schools that are well-regarded in that specialty.

    For example, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, Univ. of California San Fransisco, etc. are all very well-respected schools. But if there are not researchers there working on projects in your specialty, they would be bad choices for you.
  9. by   elkpark
    This is not like "basic" nursing school, or even MSN programs -- in that case, you can figure that, e.g., all psych NP programs, or all CNM programs, offer a fairly similar curriculum and end result, and focus on price and reputation of the school. But PhD programs are much more specialized and personalized. You want (need) to be at a school at which there are faculty who share your specific research interests (and please don't say you don't have any, so you can go anywhere -- that's one of the first things you'll be asked when you start applying to programs. They will expect you to already have some pretty clear ideas about what area and topics in nursing you're interested in researching).
  10. by   samdaman
    I believe Columbia is offering practically a full scholarship for their PhD program....might be worth checking out!
  11. by   InformaticsRN.MA
    Thanks for the tip about Columbia:-)
    After doing a bit more reading, I am interested in hearing from anyone who knows anything about the School of Nursing at Duke University. They offer a PhD focused on informatics, and some of their areas of research seem like a good match for me (e.g. self-management and human-computer interaction).
    Has anyone gone to Duke, or heard anything about the school or faculty?