Financing your doctoral education


  • KVA
    Has 17 years experience.


I am hoping to receive some helpful responses on this topic. Although it is probably a ridiculous question, I am having difficulty discovering how other PhD students fund their education. I am currently in an MSN program with plans to continue for my PhD. Although I know I could stop at the MSN level, there are important research topics/projects which I am involved with and want to continue to research.

Continuing on for my doctorate will help me to learn how to conduct thorough and appropriate research, and give me higher level skills in quantitative/qualitative research and research methodologies. Learning how to do this is really exciting to me!

The problem which I have though is in how I will pay for the 5+ years in a doctoral program. Yes I know there are schools with strong funding who provide assistance to some PhD students, but from my research, there isn't necessarily oodles of grant money going to nursing programs. I could apply for scholarships, but they only go so far. Private loan? I'm not really interested in going this route.

So for the Allnurses community, how did those of you who have completed or are completing a PhD program, fund your education? Additionally, as we live far from universities, graduate assistantships would not be an option for me. Am I out of luck, and will have to wrack up a lot of debt to do what I love?

Thank you!

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

I saved until I had enough money to cover what my scholarships didn't for my DNP.


4 Posts

Has 17 years experience.

Thank you for responding! Most likely this will be my plan as well!

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juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

9 Articles; 4,338 Posts

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 31 years experience.

You should shop around. There are more funding opportunities in PhD programs than there are for DNP. An NP co-worker of mine is pursuing a PhD out of state (large state university, mostly online) with full funding.

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llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

I pieced together a variety of funding mechanisms:

1. Waited a few years until I had saved up enough money to pay for my full first year out of pocket.

2. I moved to another state and got a graduate assistantship that paid most of my direct school expenses and some of my living expenses.

3. I lived like a poor graduate student even though I was in my late 30's. (Small, 1-bedroom apartment within walking distance of campus.)

4. Picked up a little research grant money

5. Student loans

6. Did NOT touch my retirement money from jobs I had in between my MSN and BSN

In the end, I spent 5 years getting my PhD (had some health problems in the middle) and had just a small student loan at graduation. I was able to pay that loan off in 3 years with no problems.


199 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

I'm looking at BSN to PhD options at the moment. Do you plan on teaching at a university post-PhD? There is a federal loan forgiveness program for those who commit to staying at a university as nursing faculty.

shibaowner, MSN, RN, NP

3 Articles; 583 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

You can do a Google search on "fully funded nursing PhD." Yale has one - they even pay a small stipend. There are also some other schools.

Specializes in Urgent Care NP, Emergency Nursing, Camp Nursing. Has 12 years experience.

While my DNP program doesn't offer formal assistantships, many of us with preexisting masters degrees in nursing teach as adjuncts and get tuition waivers from that. Between that, going part time (to maximize the benefit from the waivers) and paying my own way, I've been able to largely avoid taking loans.