I am an Egyptian undergraduate student who is considering attending graduate school programs in statistics. My preference would be to attend a U.S. graduate school program to obtain a masters or Ph.D. in statistics. However, I am concerned about securing funding to do this and am not sure how to go about attempting to get funding.

My Question

What are the most common and successful ways international students secure funding to attend graduate schools in the US?

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    PhD programs in Statistics often come with Research or Teaching assistantships, your earnings from which covers both your tuition and provide modest stipend (enough to rent a place to live and eat). – Willie Wong Jul 19 '16 at 2:47
  • @WillieWong Is that true for international students too? I was under the impression it was harder for international students to secure funding generally – Stan Shunpike Jul 19 '16 at 2:55
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    @StanShunpike Most TA and RAships are given based on merit, and are not any harder for international students to get. Some TAships might require evidence of English proficiency, which can be a problem for international students with poor English language skills. Some RAships might be funded by defense grants that are restricted to US citizens, but that's relatively rare. – ff524 Jul 19 '16 at 3:43
  • @ff524 Does this mean an international student applying to US graduate student programs then are then treated like other students assuming they show excellent ability in their subject and their ability to speak English? There isn't discrimination or limitations against them for funding? I think you answered this but I am just clarifying since it is important to be sure I am understanding you. – Stan Shunpike Jul 19 '16 at 3:45
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    @StanShunpike International students won't be eligible for things like NSF fellowships or other "personal" federal fellowships (awarded personally to student from the federal government) or potentially other, smaller, fellowships, but as far as TA or RA funding (which is how most STEM students are funded), there is not usually any restriction. I don't know where you heard otherwise, perhaps you should ask that person to clarify. – ff524 Jul 19 '16 at 3:50

In the physical sciences (which in the Survey of Earned Doctorates includes mathematics), the primary source of support for international PhD students in the US is:

  • 32.0% via teaching assistantships
  • 52.3% via research assistantships or traineeships
  • 12.9% via fellowships or grants
  • Very small portion via other sources (e.g. self funded, employer funded).

Across all fields, the primary source of support for international PhD students in the US is:

  • 22.2% via teaching assistantships
  • 49.9% via research assistantships or traineeships
  • 20.4% via fellowships or grants
  • Small portion via other sources (e.g. self funded, employer funded)

Source: Survey of Earned Doctorates, TABLE 35. Doctorate recipients' primary source of financial support, by broad field of study, sex, citizenship status, ethnicity, and race: 2014

In STEM fields in the US, both US citizen and international PhD students are generally offered admission with funding, which will be provided via teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or some combination of the above. US STEM PhD offers that don't come with funding are generally not worth accepting. So it's not about specifically trying to get funding, it's about getting a real offer of admissions (which should come with funding).

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    Note that this is only true for PhD students. It's possible to get a RA or TA position to fund a masters position, but it's much less likely and very program-dependent. The vast majority of masters degrees (at least in statistics) must be self-funded. – Roger Fan Jul 19 '16 at 4:20

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