Which country pays PhD students the best?


Table of Contents

  1. Is it wise to consider PhD stipend when making a PhD decision?
  2. Things to consider for PhD stipends
  3. The benefits of using Living Wage Ratio
  4. Remarks about the PhD stipends data
  5. Final Word

Chart Description: The chart above is showing which country pays the PhD students best?

The countries are arranged in descending order based on PhD stipend to living cost ratio. The PhD stipend to living cost ratio line in the graph is showing the actual worth of a PhD stipend offered in that area.

The higher PhD stipend to living cost ratio the higher will be the actual worth of PhD stipend.

Short Answer:

  • Highest PhD stipend when compared to living cost: Oslo-Norway
  • 2nd highest PhD stipend when compared to living cost: Copenhagen-Denmark
  • 3rd highest PhD stipend when compared to living cost: Bern-Switzerland
  • Lowest PhD stipend when compared to living cost: Dublin-Ireland

Read More: 25 Highest PhD stipends in the US 

Is it wise to consider PhD stipend when making a PhD decision?

Although, I agree that a PhD aspirer should give weightage to factors like lab facilities, research interests, and PhD advisor compatibility. However, if you are like me you might want to grab the highest stipend in the world for your area of study.

In fact, considering the abundance of options to do a PhD around the world there is no harm in taking such a note. As an international student and PhD aspirer, it is perfectly fine to consider the finances because

In my opinion (and you may agree with me on this), as an international PhD aspirer should consider (a) how much can you save during the PhD years and (b) what kind of lifestyle you will be able to afford during your studies.

  The Truth About Average Stipend For PhD Students In USA

Read More: The Truth About Average Stipend For PhD Students In USA


Things to consider for PhD stipends

A PhD stipend or any other salary is just a number when we consider different regions across the globe. Absolute dollar, euro, or pounds cannot tell the whole story when we want to compare compensation given in one region to another.

Countries and even cities have different circumstances and different costs of living. Thus, to find its actual worth and compare one PhD stipend amount offered in one country to another we need some comparable number.

PhD stipend to living cost ratio is the number that can help us compare different PhD stipends offered around the world. It can help us sort out the highest PhD stipends by using the actual worth of the amount in terms of living costs near the campus.

As an international prospective PhD student and applicant you should consider these factors for PhD stipend amount because

  • the living cost in the area– the cost of living vary drastically from one city or country to another
  • various fellowships offered to PhD students – which increase the stipend from the minimum amount reported by the university
  • Other assistantships and paid work offers – taxable pay may increase or decrease the stipend

Living Wage and PhD stipends

Are you wondering what is Living Wage? and What is the difference between Living Wage and Minimum Wage you often heard about?

Take a look at the infographic below to fully understand the concept of a Living Wage.

Source: Living Wage vs Minimum Wage

The benefits of using Living Wage Ratio

Living Wage ratio is the number that can help you evaluate the actual worth of a PhD stipend in terms of living costs near the campus. As PhD is a 4-7 years commitment on average depending on the region and university, you must consider the actual worth of a PhD stipend to avoid any difficulties down the road.

  Is a PhD stipend in the USA enough for international students without any other financial support?

Let’s take a close look at the living wage ratio

How living wage ratio is calculated for PhD students stipend
The living wage ratio formula is very useful in estimating the real value of a PhD stipend. Lower than 1 values are an indicator that PhD stipend may not be able to sustain a single person’s living cost.

You can also calculate the living wage ratio for yourself by using the above living wage ratio formula.

To do this, you can

  • ask the university and department for the annual PhD stipend information
  • check living wage using many useful platforms. I found Numbeo.com helpful in calculating the living cost.

Read more: Do PhD students make a lot of Money?

PhD stipend to living cost ratio is the most significant figure to note. It helps us in comparing the actual value of a PhD stipend in a certain region.

Now after understanding the value of the “PhD stipend to living cost ratio” let us look at the average PhD stipend offered around the most popular academic destinations in the world.

Here is a list of countries with the best PhD stipends in the world.

Which country pays PhD students the best?

Country-CityPhD Stipend to Living cost ratio Average PhD stipend /per annum(in US Dollars)Average living cost including rent/ per annum (for single person)
Norway-Oslo1.69$54935$32520
Denmark-Copenhagen1.61$54636$33960
Switzerland-Bern1.42$53434$37656
Finland-Helsinki1.35$35388$26148
Sweden-Stockholm1.31$41268$31452
Austria-Vienna1.29$30408$23568
Germany-Berlin1.17$29040$24804
Netherlands-Amsterdam1.11$38988$35088
France-Lyon1.07$23328$21780
Israel-Tel Aviv1.00$33324$33396
Spain-Barcelona0.91$20550$22560
South Korea-Seoul0.87$20496$23664
Australia-Melbourne0.79$21232$26712
Turkey-Ankara0.72$5688$7872
Canada-Toronto0.71$21205$30048
Italy-Milan0.65$17448$26832
New Zealand-Auckland0.65$18576$28680
UK-London0.63$26027$41604
Singapore-Singapore0.61$22044$35904
Ireland-Dublin0.58$21080$36480
PhD Stipend to Living cost ratio is the most important number here because it helps us compare the purchasing power of the PhD students in different regions.

Cities are mentioned because PhD stipend amount and living cost vary from city to city in the same country. The PhD stipend and living cost data is city based.

Sources:
Average PhD stipend in a certain city : Glassdoor, Fastepo
Average living cost and rent : Numbeo


  5 Common Questions Applicants ask about PhD stipend?

Note: Countries such as the US and China having high variability in living costs from one area to another are not included in the table above.

Read More: Range of PhD stipends in the US by field of study

Remarks about the PhD stipends data

Inclusive Criteria

  • City based PhD stipend and living cost data is included for better estimation of PhD stipend to living cost ratio.
  • Average living cost is calculated by living cost of a single person + average rent in the city center.
  • Only salary reports with High Confidence Level were included. High Confidence Level means the salary data on Glassdoor.com was sufficient, recent and fresh.

Limitations

  • The actual stipend offered by your university may vary. Any additional compensations e.g., bonuses, any other grants etc. may increase your stipend amount. Any extra fee e.g., semester , activity fee etc. may decrease the PhD stipend amount.
  • Your actual PhD stipend may differ depending on your field of study, university and type of grant/ funding for your PhD.
  • The living cost may vary depending on many factors e.g., room sharing, dependents, living outside of city center, transportation, etc.
  • Some stipend amounts may be pre-tax because the PhD stipend is taxable in that jurisdiction. Tax amount may vary due to your location, dependents etc.
  • PhD stipend and living cost are provided in approximations.

Final Word

Here is my advice on evaluating the best PhD stipend before you apply or accept a PhD offer

  • Estimate any additional grants and allowances that may be available to you in a PhD.
  • Estimate the living cost according to your dependents, preferred location (inside or outside the city center).
  • Estimate the possibility of any savings you can make during your studies.

Read More: Can you live off PhD Stipend?