United States leads the world in many areas of science and technology; for example, nanotechnology, high performance carbon based materials, semiconductors, supercomputing, medicine, membranes, environmental remediation, surface science, and materials engineering. Its university system is the envy of the world, particularly at the doctoral level, where the requirement for graduation is clear demonstration of research capability at a very advanced level.
Specifically, U.S. graduate education at the doctoral level places a very heavy emphasis on enabling the student to obtain a good grounding in the fundamentals of the field in which he chooses to pursue a postgraduate research degree. In detail, the first two years of study would involve substantial amount of coursework, where the student, in addition to research, is also required to read a specified number of courses to achieve a predetermined level of proficiency in specific areas of the discipline, such as chemical engineering.
Moving beyond the initial obstacle of gaining admission to one’s choice of university and programs, thinking about how one’s education in the U.S. could be financed is an important question that all aspirants need to note before spending hefty amount of application fees during the application process. In general, U.S. graduate schools do provide doctoral candidates with two years of departmental funding in the form of research fellowship, research assistantship and teaching assistantship. Beyond the initial two years of study, the doctoral candidate would be financed by the research grant of his supervisor, which would include payment of the tuition fees and a stipend to support living allowances. At the two year mark in the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) program, the student would need to pass a qualifying examination before being allowed into candidature at the doctoral level. Depending on the graduate school requirements, the qualifying examination usually involves a written examination that tests the basic knowledge of the candidate in key concepts that define the discipline of study. Typically, a doctoral degree in a U.S. graduate school would take about 5 years to complete: i.e., from matriculation to passing a qualifying examination to final thesis submission.
Thus, while U.S. graduate schools is the go to option for many students around the world wishing to obtain a doctoral degree prior to embarking on a career in science or teaching, funding for graduate school can be a significant hurdle for aspirants. Specifically, U.S. graduate education typically follows a segmental approach where the first two years are funded by research fellowship, research assistantship or teaching assistantship from the department. Upon passing a qualifying examination at the end of the second year of study, funding for the rest of the doctoral student’s candidature would come from the research supervisor.
Tags: graduate education, funding, research assistantship, research fellowship, teaching assistantship, doctoral education,