How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Education?

How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Education?

Key Takeaways

  • Total tuition cost for a PhD in education can range from approximately $21,000 to $55,000. for a program with 60 to 66 credits.
  • A PhD in education degree program generally requires 60 to 66 credits to complete.
  • A PhD in education program takes three to six years of full-time study to complete.

As a prospective doctorate candidate, if you don’t accurately estimate program costs, you might face financial burdens that disrupt your studies and lead to overwhelming debt. Our team of researchers and data analysts has evaluated the costs, and in this article, we answer one of the most frequently asked questions: How much does it cost to get a PhD in education?

Woman counting dollar bills

Featured Programs

How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Education?

Depending on the institution and the specific program, the total tuition cost for a PhD in education can range from approximately $21,000 to $55,000 for a program with 60 to 66 credits. However, this can go higher depending on your program, research, and living expenses. Students should remember that funding and financial aid can help manage these costs.

Our subject matter experts have estimated the costs of completing a doctor of philosophy in education based on current data and assessments. Note that the final costs may still depend on your selected school and program. For this reason, it’s good to thoroughly research and prepare for these expenses to avoid surprises during your academic journey.

Back to Top

Overview and Cost Components of PhD in Education

Getting a PhD is a big step in advancing your career. The journey takes dedication, time, and, of course, money. From the tuition to non-tuition expenses - it’s important to look into these costs early to plan financially for your doctoral degree.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that the pursuit of doctoral degrees has experienced a substantial rise in advanced economies. Should this trend persist, approximately 2.3% of the current generation of young adults will enroll in a doctoral program at some point in their lives.

Among OECD member countries, the United States produces the highest number of doctoral graduates, with an estimated 71,000 individuals attaining this advanced level of education. Based on our evaluations, this table shows the potential costs for a four to five-year doctor of philosophy in education degree with 60 to 66 units in the United States.

FactorAverage Costs
Tuition fees per academic year$21,000 to $55,000
Living expenses and non-tuition costs$12,000 to $15,000
Research and travel expenses$5,000 to $7,000
Admissions and pre-enrollment expenses$150 to $500

Program Duration and Number of Credits

When considering a PhD in education, you need to determine how long it’ll take and how many credits you need to graduate. For example, a PhD program can last anywhere from three to six years. However, if you go part-time, it may take even longer.

The total number of credits required for a doctorate degree varies by institution. Most PhD programs will require between 60 and 120 credits to graduate. The cost per credit can range dramatically from one university to another.

Most universities will outline the number of credits tied to lab work, lectures, and dissertation credits separately. Extending the program to accommodate personal or professional commitments can lead to additional semesters and higher costs.

Tuition Fees

When analyzing the cost of a doctorate in education, tuition fees represent a significant part of the expenses. Your actual costs may increase if you attend part-time or take longer to complete your degree.

Tuition for a PhD can vary widely depending on the institution. Some can start for as little as $21,000 per academic year.

Living Expenses and Non-Tuition Costs

Tuition is just part of the picture when you’re working on getting a PhD in education. Your budget needs to include living expenses that stretch beyond the classroom. Here’s what comes under this category:

  • Housing: Your biggest monthly cost will likely be where you live. Whether you’re renting an apartment or sharing a house, expect this to be a significant part of your budget.
  • Food: Eating out can add up. Look for budget-friendly meal plans or buy groceries and cook at home to stay within your budget.
  • Transportation: How will you get to campus or your study site? Whether it’s bus passes, gas, or bike maintenance, transportation needs to be considered in your budget.
  • Books and study materials: PhD courses often require textbooks and other study materials. These can be expensive, so include them in your planning.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: Things like phone bills, internet, laundry, and other day-to-day expenses should be considered as well.

Costs can vary based on location, lifestyle, and whether you’re bringing family members with you. Remember to budget for the full duration of your program. It’s wise to overestimate, just to be safe.

Woman using a laptop

Research and Travel Expenses

A doctor of philosophy in education is a high research degree. The program often culminates in a thesis or dissertation. When pursuing a PhD in education, keep in mind that your budget should include funds for research and travel expenses. These costs can vary widely, so anticipate them to avoid surprises down the line.

  • Research costs: As a doctoral student, you might need to purchase books, access certain databases, or obtain materials specific to your field of study. Allocate funds for them if your university doesn’t cover these expenses.
  • Materials: Depending on your research, costs can include anything from educational software to classroom materials for field studies.
  • Travel costs: You’ll need travel, accommodation, and even a clothing budget for attending conferences or workshops for professional development and networking.
  • Registration fees: Expect to shell out registration or membership fees for conferences or other relevant events.
  • Research trips: Include transportation, accommodation, and daily expenses in your calculations if your work involves field studies or research in various locations.

Some universities offer funding packages that may cover a portion of these expenses. It is worth checking with your institution to see what costs are included and which ones you’ll need to plan for yourself.

Admissions and Pre-Enrollment Expenses

When you’re applying for a PhD in education, you’ll encounter various costs before you even start the program. Budget for these expenses as part of your educational investment.

  • Application fees: Each school you apply to will require an application fee, which can generally cost at least $150. Most fees are non-refundable, so choose your schools wisely.
  • Transcript fees: You’ll need official copies of your transcripts from prior institutions. This can cost up to $20 per copy.
  • Test fees: Expect to pay about $205 for the GRE if your program requires this exam. Additional costs apply should you need to retake the test or send scores to more than four schools.
  • Resume: If you’re not proficient at it yourself, you might require professional help for creating a professional resume. This can cost between $100 and $500.

Mode of Learning

The mode of delivery for a PhD in education program can significantly impact the final fees, as online programs tend to be more affordable than traditional on-campus options. Hybrid programs combine online and on-campus components. It can offer a middle ground in terms of cost, with some savings on tuition yet still requiring certain on-campus expenses.

Additionally, on-campus programs often require students to factor in additional expenses such as relocation costs, housing, and transportation. In contrast, online courses have the potential to significantly reduce costs in higher education, primarily through labor savings facilitated by larger class sizes and less face-to-face interaction between instructors and students.

The cost structure of online education enables colleges to recoup their initial investments and generate additional revenue. This is done by increasing enrollment in online courses to extremely high numbers without the physical space limitations of traditional in-person classes.

Students listening on a class in college
Back to Top

Institutional Variations and Cost Differences

PhD in education tuition fees and other expenses can change depending on where you decide to study. Some schools might charge more, while others can be more affordable. Whether a school is public or private and whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student can also affect the price.

Public vs Private

Carefully weighing the costs of attending a public or private institution can impact the upfront and recurring expenses for your doctoral education.

Key characteristics of public institutions include:

  • Typically less expensive for in-state students due to government funding.
  • May offer more scholarships and grants, especially for local students.
  • Out-of-state tuition can be higher, sometimes as much as at private institutions.

Key characteristics of colleges and universities include:

  • Tuition costs tend to be higher, as they rely more on tuition and private contributions.
  • Often provides generous financial aid packages that can significantly lower net costs.
  • May have more resources available for research projects and educational opportunities.

In-State vs Out-of-State

Students who are not residents of the state where a university is located are often required to pay significantly higher tuition fees, sometimes double or triple the rate charged to in-state students. On the other hand, these institutions can offer more affordable rates to in-state students.

This discrepancy arises because public universities receive financial support from state taxes. It enables them to subsidize the costs for students whose families have established residency within the state for a minimum duration of typically one year.

Back to Top

Funding and Financial Aid Options

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professionals with a doctoral degree have an average median weekly income of around $1,825. However, this journey of advanced educational attainment may also lead to student debt. PhD graduates may have an average loan balance of around $125,276.

Pursuing a doctorate in education shouldn’t derail your finances. Over the years, we’ve recommended professionals to find sources to support their academic journeys financially. These are some of the most common ways to do that:

Scholarships, Grants, and Stipends

Scholarships are financial awards that don’t need to be repaid and are often based on merit or specific criteria such as field of study or demographic factors. Similar to scholarships, grants are typically need-based and also do not require repayment.

Some educational institutions provide a stipend, which is a fixed sum of money intended to cover living expenses while you study.

Male teacher teaching a middle school class, while a student is in front of the board answering the question

Fellowships and Assistantships

Fellowships are prestigious awards that usually cover tuition and include a stipend. You can obtain this through a university or external organizations.

Many students also earn a stipend by working as teaching or research assistants. This work is often related to their area of study, providing both funding and valuable experience. About 40% of students get some form of aid, with those pursuing a doctorate usually receiving an assistantship.

Loans and External Funding

While loans must be repaid, they can cover gaps that scholarships, grants, and assistantships do not fill. Remember to consider the interest rates and repayment terms.

Research opportunities for external funding through nonprofits, corporations, or professional organizations. They sometimes offer financial assistance to doctoral students.

Tuition Reimbursement From Employer

If you are currently employed, you can find out if your employer offers tuition reimbursement for coursework that enhances your skills relevant to your job. Some employers may cover a part of your tuition if the PhD will benefit the organization.

Related Questions

Is a PhD in Education in the USA Fully Funded?

Many PhD programs in education in the USA offer funding through fellowships, assistantships, or grants, which usually cover your tuition and may provide a stipend for living expenses. However, the availability of full funding depends on the institution, and it’s important to check with the specific university to understand the funding options they provide.

Do You Get Paid to Do a PhD in Education?

While pursuing your education PhD, you might have opportunities to earn money in the form of stipends for teaching or research assistantships. This work is part of your development as a scholar, and the pay helps support your studies. The amount can vary widely, so explore this early in your search for programs.

Will I Get a Return on Investment After Completing a Doctorate in Education?

Your return on investment (ROI) after completing a doctor of philosophy in education can be significant, both in terms of career advancement and potential salary increase. With a PhD, you’re qualified for higher-level positions in academia, research, and leadership within education, which often come with higher salaries compared to those with a master’s degree in education alone.


Understanding the total costs associated with obtaining a PhD in education helps you plan your academic journey properly. Whether you’re on a tight budget or not - we highly recommend doing thorough research and exploring the different financial aid options. We hope this guide helps you plan your finances, so you can focus on your academic pursuits.

Do you have a question about this topic? Ask it here