I am a Japanese student who will apply to U.S. Ph.D. programs this year. I successfully acquired two external Japanese scholarships, but I should choose the one. Which do you think is better when we consider chances to get into Ph.D. programs (biology, STEM fields) and financial matters.

Scholarship X covers two-year stipends ($2500 per month), two-year tuitions and two-year medical insurance. When I consider applying to Harvard University, the amount of payment will be 185k dollars in total.

Scholarship Y covers five-year stipends ($1835 per month), two-year tuitions (up to $55k). When I consider applying to Harvard University, the amount of payment will be 165k dollars in total.

The Ph.D. programs which I will apply to provide us complete financial support including stipend, tuition and medical insurance. Therefore, the purpose to acquire scholarships is to increase chances to be admitted to the programs by decreasing their financial burden. In this sense, scholarship X is better.

However, some universities provide a bonus for students who acquired external scholarships. In this sense, scholarship Y may be better because we may get the bonus in the remaining three years as well.

Which scholarship do you think is better?

Thank you.

  • I'd be surprised if an ivy league school cared much about the money. Maybe a public school might, but even then I'd again be surprised if any of the elite public schools did. The scholarships will help as awards and accolades, where you can list both of them. As for a bonus, sounds like something you'd need to figure out for each school. – A Simple Algorithm Nov 11 '19 at 14:53
  • Thank you for your comment! Most of the money comes from the NIH grant which can support just only domestic students. Thus, the grant to support international students is limited even in the ivy league schools, which makes the situation worse for international students. I have heard that scholarship is very effective in this situation. – Japanese guy Nov 11 '19 at 15:31
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    Seems somewhat uncommon. Most grad students in my field are internationals, and typically they are all fully funded. Usually by NIH or NSF grants to the faculty advisor. Generally at a major research university in the US, to get accepted to the PhD program is to get funded. The is certainly the case at the highly-ranked schools. It's quite different from many other countries in this regard. Some schools (stanford used to do this) might accept you into the MS program as a first step without funding, with the expectation you will find an advisor to fund you at some point to continue to PhD. – A Simple Algorithm Nov 11 '19 at 18:42
  • Yes, you are correct. International students are also supported, but what I would like to tell is that the population of international students will be small due to the limited resources. For example, Yale University states that "The financial resources we have available to pay for students who are neither U.S. Citizens nor U.S. Permanent Residents, however, is very limited. As a result, we are able to admit only a small percentage of our international applicant pool, and students should take this into consideration before applying to the Program." – Japanese guy Nov 11 '19 at 21:51