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Need PhD funding? Where do we begin?

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

By: Eric Fasco

For many Social Science grads, research is a strong interest. Moving towards PhD study often seems like a logical step in the next direction!

However, getting into a PhD is tricky.

As LSE PhD candidate Sara Estevez Cores detailed in her blog about "Things to Consider Before Getting into a PhD Program". (Definitely check this blog out!)

Sara highlighted 4 major points you need to think over before you apply:

  1. Why do you want to do a PhD? It should be because you either 1) need it to advance a research career or 2) want to go into academia.

  2. Know what you want to research! You will be spending 3-6 years (depending on your programme) independently researching a specific topic. It needs to be one that you’re not only highly knowledgeable on, but deeply passionate about.

  3. Where do you want to do it? The university should be a hub and good support system for your interests and proposed methods, but also a place where you want to live the next 3-6 years!

  4. With who? Supervisors are the most important thing to consider before you apply! They need to match not only your interests, but your proposed methods and approach to research. Also, you need to get along! You will be spending a lot of time with them and they will be your go-to for pastoral support.

(*Side note, if you are doing a PhD for a career in Academia, definitely check out our interview with Dr. Romina Istratii )

After going through a tedious application process, there comes a moment when you receive that long-awaited email from a university or research center congratulating you upon being offered a place on a PhD programme.

Mid-way through the email, the smile on your face and the shine in your eyes vanish. You have just read that the offer is conditional—you have to meet some financial obligations before enrolling on your dream PhD programme. But you don't have the money to turn the conditional offer into an unconditional one

Now that you've got it, here comes a million-dollar question: How do you fund your studies?

For US PhDs, domestic students are often funded at least 75% upon entry to the programme. But this doesn’t always apply to international students.

For the U.K. or EU, you may need to apply to external funding no matter where you are from. With so many considerations and “what if” situations, where do you even start your funding research?

The RE:Project is here to help! We are launching an exciting new workshop series "Preparing for your PhD programs" led by Eric Frasco and Victor Agboga. Both workshop leaders of the series have very impressive track records of securing FULL-RIDE PhD scholarships and Offers from TOP universities from both the US and the UK.

The last workshop of the series, "How to Get PhD Fundings?" is a hands-on practical workshop that aims to show you how you can secure funding for a doctoral programme. With a bit of guidance from our speakers who secured at least 8 scholarships between them, you can obtain funding just as easily as you did admission!!

Remember, getting funding is not hard, it is competitive.

The RE: Project is willing to go an extra step to help you become a competitive contender for PhD funding. And who is better than Victor, who has supported over 50 candidates to win fully funded postgraduate scholarships in every continent in the last 8 months, to help you!

*Given the interactive nature of this workshop, there's very limited space, get your ticket today!

Additionally, we put together a few tips and possible funding sources to get you started:

The first step is always to look at your respective University and Department’s funding or financial aid page. There is often a full list of scholarships known to the Department, as well as links or advice on Federal financial aid (I.e, loans or needs-based relief). Typically, there are internal scholarships hosted by the University (merit and/or need-based) as well. These are often very competitive, but always worth applying to. Your supervisor, or other faculty contacts within the University, are also good resources. If you are lucky, there may even be an ongoing project with funding available that you can join onto. Also, many organisations support specific groups, whether based on gender, ethnicity, occupation or otherwise. For example, if you are from a certain country, specific ethnic background, a refugee, a person with disabilities, a woman in STEM, etc.. Consider your specific situation/background and start searching from there! Other leads on funding include:

  • has listings for fully-funded PhD programmes (UK/EU)

  • UKRI has a number of funding opportunities and grants throughout the year. This includes the ESRC. Check the eligibility requirements carefully! The majority are not for international or pre-doctoral students, but it’s always worth a look. Similar organisations to UKRI exist in most countries, such as the Irish Research Council (IRC) in Ireland, so keep a lookout (UK/EU)

  • Wellcome Trust offers studentships for public health research (UK)

  • Chevening Scholarships offer full funding for students from participating developing countries (UK)

  • Many countries offer specific scholarships to study abroad. For example, the Marshall Scholarship or Fulbright for Americans studying in the U.K. (UK)

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers funding for health research (USA)

  • The World Bank offers a number of scholarships for related research

And this is just to get you started. Everybody is different, and so are their backgrounds and programmes of choice. To get advice tailored to you and have a head start on funding applications, make sure to join us for our workshop with Victor and Eric!

Good luck with your application and we wish you every success!

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