I heard from a friend that master's programs tend to be more expensive because master's students don't have advisors or as much university funding for their time in academia. However, sources online seem to only indicate to me that the PhD is more expensive. Can someone clear this up?

  • 3
    What do you mean by price? In which country?
    – The Doctor
    May 26, 2018 at 10:28
  • 1
    In the US. There's tuition payments associated with attending university for a master's or a doctoral program. Anecdotal evidence tells me that a master's program has less aid available for tuition, and so a greater net price, than a doctoral program.
    – user42834
    May 26, 2018 at 10:45
  • Kenny, people upvote comments they think that are relevant. They are not sending to you a message through upvotes. Everything is clear now.
    – The Doctor
    May 26, 2018 at 13:07
  • 2
    I have often heard “You should never have to pay to get a PhD.” This may be due to my field (mathematics) though... Most college students take at least one math class, so almost all universities are willing to pay for many PhD students to teach their lower level math classes. I don’t think the same funding is as readily available to math master’s students. May 26, 2018 at 14:00
  • Can you clarify which field? STEM PhD positions are almost always funded (full tuition + a few thousand per month for expenses); whereas humanities positions are more rarely funded.
    – cag51
    May 26, 2018 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


Masters students are often unfunded. That is, they have to pay (most of) the tuition fee. Against that, PhD students are typically funded. That is, they are paid to study. Here's an example. The student here is not only paid a monthly stipend of $2000/month, (s)he doesn't have to pay tuition fees.

In other words, yes, it's often cheaper to do a PhD than a Masters. Caveats apply: it's possible you may not be offered funding (in which case a PhD is also more expensive). Also, since a PhD takes longer than a Masters, if you graduate with a Masters and then get a well-paid job immediately, the extra income might be enough to compensate for the price difference.

You must log in to answer this question.