August 3, 2004 Features

Funding a PhD Education

ASHA is implementing a variety of programs and activities to increase the number of research doctoral students through its 2004 Focused Initiative on the PhD Shortage. To assist individuals interested in a PhD, ASHA maintains a comprehensive funding resource guide for doctoral students on its Web site at as well as a general guide to financial aid resources. Information about typical levels of funding for PhD students is included in the PhD Program Survey Results 2002-Executive Summary that is available on ASHA's Web site. The PhD Program Survey was conducted in 2002 by a committee formed by the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and ASHA. The questions and answers that follow provide information about the various sources of funding and levels of funding.

What types of funding sources are available for PhD students?

Funding sources are generally classified as university funding (internal) or extramural (external) funding. University funding refers to sources of funds available from the particular university that a student attends. Sources of extramural funding include federal agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the many institutes that form the National Institutes of Health. A foundation, which is an organization created by individuals or companies, is another source that often awards grants in a specific field of study. The ASHA Foundation (, is an example of a foundation that offers several scholarship and grant competitions to graduate students (including PhD students) and new researchers in the field of communication sciences and disorders (CSD). Starkey is an example of a corporation that sponsors scholarship competitions for audiology students, including PhD students, through its Starkey First program (

How much support do these sources provide to PhD students?

According to the PhD Program Survey Results 2002-Executive Summary, the average funding level for university-funded opportunities that include research assistant or teaching assistant appointments was $13,320 and $11,360, respectively. The average funding level for extramurally funded research trainees or fellows was $14,730 and $13,550 for research assistants. The dollar amounts from foundations and private sources vary with the individual program.

Do all PhD students receive funding?

Although not all PhD students receive funding, the majority does receive some support. The PhD Program Survey Results (2002) identified the source of funding and the approximate percentage of students funded by that source to include university funds (50%), research grants (22%), and training grants (14%). Some students were funded from multiple sources whereas approximately 24% of PhD students were reported to be self-supporting. Students were funded as research assistants (46%), teaching assistants (35%), trainees (15%), clinical supervisors (6%), or other (12%).

Are student loans available for PhD education?

Student loans are available for graduate education through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, the Federal Stafford Loan program, and the Perkins Federal Loan program. The federal loan programs are administered through a participating university's financial aid office. In addition, many lenders offer private loans.

What efforts are underway to improve funding for PhD students?

ASHA National Office staff in the Government Relations and Public Policy and Science and Research units routinely communicate with federal agencies, foundations, and corporations to advocate for funding for higher education, personnel preparation, traineeships and fellowships, and research in CSD. ASHA has dedicated additional resources toward this advocacy effort through its 2004 Focused Initiative on the PhD Shortage.

How do I learn more about funding?

Check out the resource guides on ASHA's Web site for a general overview of funding sources and contact information. To learn about funding opportunities for PhD students at a particular university, contact the CSD program directly and the school's financial aid office. A list of PhD programs is available on ASHA's Web site.

Loretta M. Nunez, is ASHA's director of academic affairs.

cite as: Nunez, L. M. (2004, August 03). Funding a PhD Education. The ASHA Leader.


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