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I read this article yesterday about crowdfunding business. I wondered if its possible to crowdfund a PhD?

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People will fund solar roads, so I guess they'll fall for anything. So the answer to your question is yes. But does that help? What would a helpful answer look like? – EnergyNumbers Jun 13 '14 at 8:41
People donate money towards things like cancer research quite happily -- some of that money probably indirectly goes towards funding a PhD student. I think it's possible, but you'll probably need an insanely good sales pitch that has a chance of going viral in order to succeed. – Moriarty Jun 13 '14 at 9:24
PhD - very unlikely (it is not a cool project you can 'sell' to crowds; plus, if you are famous enough to get such funding, you can get any other funding as well). Certain projects within PhD - maybe. – Piotr Migdal Jun 13 '14 at 11:28
A crowd-funded quasi-research project – Jun 13 '14 at 15:19
There have been examples of people crowdfunding e.g. a conference trip, but a whole PhD? I'm quite dubious you would succeed. – yo' Jun 13 '14 at 15:31

While I'm sure its possible I haven't been able to find any examples of funding an entire PhD. However, there are quite a few examples of people crowd funding smaller individual research projects. I think there are two main reasons for this cost and accessibility.


It is really quite expensive to fund an entire PhD. If we look at the costs of a PhD (in the UK) we get.

  • University fees: ~£4000 per year (~£15000 for non-EU students)
  • Living expenses/stipend: ~£12000 per year
  • Conferences/equipment/other stuff: ~£2-3000 per year +
  • approx £20000 per year for 3-4 years = ~£60000 (>$100,000)

Compare this to the average successful crowdfunding amount of $7000 and you'll see why it'll be hard to raise that sort of money and would require a very strong marketing campaign. Which brings us nicely onto


One of the things a successful crowd funding project needs is a good sales pitch. You need to have a very clear goal that will excite lots of people to fund you. Not many PhD projects I know could possibly fall into this category.

For conventional crowd funding you also need to give something back to supporters to make it worth their while. While I suspect this would be less true for crowd funded research there are many people who might like to support you but cannot/will not without the prospect of some tangible return.

What seems to be more common is to fund smaller individual projects for ~$10-20000. For example although there are some bigger and smaller examples in this article

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a) People crowdfunding because they want something in exchange, a better world,clean some shame, a videogame and such.

b) PhD is a personal matter where the only people that earn something is the student. In a personal case, i want to obtain a PhD, however, i don't want others to obtain it, specially colleagues.

So a) and b) are opposite.

Then, the best way to achieve b) using a) is cheating. Like already said, for example, using marketing or being creative.

I believe your question is wrong, because if you are thinking in a PhD then, if you are reached at this stage of your life then you must have enough experience to know how this World works.

PhDs are expensive for many reasons, one of them is to "separate the wheat from the chaff", they think that if you are enough smart to accumulate such money then, you are enough smart to take the PhD (IMHO: but not enough smart to decide to not to do it and run your own business). However, it is not always true, some PhD are not quite rich nor brilliants, they are just "floating around here" (yes, im recalling some teacher that i had).

PS: it is not a personal attack but more likely an analysis to your question.

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Your answer really makes no sense. What do you mean by "I don't want others to obtain it, specially colleagues?" The point of PhD's are to expand the domain of knowledge through original effort—not to gain some sort of advantage over a colleague. – aeismail Jun 13 '14 at 21:41
And while you claim this is not a personal attack, your original response was straddling the boundaries of it. – aeismail Jun 13 '14 at 21:42
@aeismail I believe magallanes's comment of "I don't want others to obtain it" was making the point that if I have a PhD, I prefer there to be fewer people with PhD's as they are my competitors. I don't believe that was trying to say that the goal is to keep one's research private. – earthling Jun 14 '14 at 7:58

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