I really desire to go study Ph.D. in the United States and my resume is good enough to secure a scholarship in the designated university, which it will grant full tuition and fees and will give me a small stipend.

But my economic situation is a mess and I'm currently living in a third world country which highest salaries here are equal to $200. I'm also married.

I'm horrified right now and I have no Idea what to do. Can we live there without any self-funding?

  • This is highly field-dependent. What field are you in?
    – Anyon
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 21:05
  • There is actually a large variation in livability of PhD stipends by University, region, and field. In low cost of living areas of the US with a stipend of 20k, a couple could have a nice stable (humble) living on one income; in other areas you'd need 4-6 room mates or have multi-hour commutes to barely scrape by. The size of "small" does matter a lot, as does whether or not there is help available from the University for moving costs.
    – BrianH
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 21:12
  • I am not sure what your concern is. Bluntly, why does it matter what salaries in your home country are? (Is that weekly, monthly, yearly?) Are you asking if US PhD stipends are enough to survive on? Will you be wanting to support your spouse? Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 21:30
  • My field is Geography with a minor in Urban planning. I mentioned the salary to show how fragile my economic support is my friend. Let's assume the university is the Ohio State University or Minnesota University (Twin Cities).
    – Ash
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


Many (most?) doctoral students in the US work as Teaching or Research assistants. The stipend, while small by the standards of regular employment is enough to live on nearly everywhere. There isn't money for extras but a couple can get by. When I studied, the stipend was about 1/3 to 1/4 of the starting faculty salary. I think that it is similar now. Explore this with any US doctoral institution.

There may be visa restrictions for some students and in some situations US citizenship may be required. But I think the visa problem would be especially severe for anyone from Iran now, due to geopolitical considerations. Hopefully these will ease but probably not for a few years, at least.

  • 3
    There isn't money for extras but a couple can get by. I would be hesitant to say this. In most large metropolises, universities have lagged behind the explosion in housing costs has blown up any chance for a couple to survive on a PhD stipend (unless you meant to say a couple can get by on a salary/wages + stipend). I don't keep track of rural/suburban costs. Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 21:36

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