Who Pays for the Doctorate? A Tale of Two PhDs
The extreme levels of debt accrued by students pursuing postsecondary degrees has been identified as one of the nation’s most worrisome educational issues. The prevalence and magnitude of debt that students are accruing are especially troubling because of the simultaneous desire among employers for college-educated employees and the tighter job market. College graduates are having a harder time finding jobs than ever before.
In this brief, the authors deepen and expand their exploration of graduate student debt levels to examine how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and social, behavioral, and economic Ph.D. recipients funded their doctorate education and how debt is tied to funding patterns.
- STEM Ph.D. recipients were more likely than social, behavioral, and economic Ph.D. recipients to receive funding from their institutions to support their graduate education.
- The percentages of students receiving institutional funds were similar for underrepresented minorities and non-underrepresented minority recipients in both types of discipline, and within public and private institutions.
- Students who primarily relied on external funding during graduate school and who did not receive any tuition assistance accrued much higher levels of debt than students who received both institutional funding and full tuition waivers.
This brief is one in a series produced by AIR to promote research, policy, and practice related to broadening the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM doctoral education and the workforce.