I found a lab offering the kind of research that I really want to do. I approached them and they were very happy to take me in. However, there is no funding and we all hoped I could get into a PhD programme at my university (their lab was on the list for rotation year). Sadly I was not selected for an interview, apparently the competition was very fierce this year. I contacted the lab again and now they are asking if I have other PhD funding? I wonder how I should reply to them, because I don't have any and I tried searching. From others I heard that you can get accepted and then look together for funding or there is a funding (the PhD programme that I was not selected for) and they just search for a suitable candidate. In my case they kind of ask me for the funding, is that right?

Self-funding would be very hard and I even tried looking if my country offers any government funding but I found none. I was told I could try getting maybe an assistant/technician job in their lab and hope that they might apply for grants? I'm very new to all the PhD issues so I'm not sure how I should deal with this but I would appreciate any help!

1 Answer 1


They are asking if you are able to self-fund or if you have received any of the (extremely rare and competitive) bursaries/scholarships. It sounds like the university thinks you would be a capable student, but unfortunately the other new PhDs were considered more competitive than you in the eyes of whatever committee decides funding. These decisions are made by a university committee, so this does not reflect on your prospector's adviser's opinion of you (most of the time).

What country are you in? This is a very common thing in (e.g.) the UK for international students. I wrote a very extensive answer about this topic here although the advice is UK-centric.

If you managed to get an assistantship/technician job, it would have to pay well enough to pay both your tuition as well as a suitable salary for you if you have no other financial sources (jobs/loans/scholarships). I think that parallel teaching/lab jobs are commonly done in the US to fund PhD students, but I'm not sure whether it would pay 100% of your needs or not. If you're in the US, hopefully somebody more familiar with the American system will chime in here.

Personally, I would not recommend self-funding unless you are rich. If you are good enough to get a position here and to have an interested adviser, you shouldn't have trouble finding a paid PhD elsewhere. Alternatively, you could enquire about a full time position with the lab, and use the experience gained during that period to leverage your application in the next admission cycle.

If you think that your adviser intends to apply for a grant to fund you, you need to ask them. Basically at this point, go to your adviser for advice.

Typically, students apply to a range of universities so that when something like this happens, they have other options. To give you an example, I applied for 6 PhD programs in the UK and whilst I had offers for most, I ultimately could not get funding (my tuition alone would have been 22k per year) and went to Europe instead where everyone has an equal chance at being funded.

  • Thanks a lot for your reply! I'm actually an EU student but I could be counted also as an international one (I have dual nationalities EU/Asia). I'm not sure if they are expecting me to have a funding secured or they just want to check whether I have something or not and then consider other options (maybe apply for grants?). I kind of want to ask them if they plan to apply for grants to fund me but I don't know if that doesn't sound rude/bold as if I expect that to happen? Well I hope since I was not able to secure a scholarship.
    – HoldenDK
    Feb 5, 2016 at 22:51
  • Just to clarify, the university is in the UK right? Or where? Feb 5, 2016 at 22:59
  • Yes, the university is in UK.
    – HoldenDK
    Feb 5, 2016 at 23:04
  • Okay, that's good actually. What's your field? Also, you told the university you hold EU citizenship, yes? Feb 5, 2016 at 23:05
  • It's Molecular Biology and yes I told them I'm EU.
    – HoldenDK
    Feb 5, 2016 at 23:10

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