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Thread: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

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    What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

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    I am evaluating a few offers I have received this cycle. The funding ranges from 30k/year to 40k/year, with various mixes of fellowship and RA/TA responsibility. Ideally I'd compare these offers against the full distribution of funding offers given to business phds, but that data is obviously not available. In the absence of such data, can you please give me your thoughts on whether 30-40k/year is a decent offer? How does it compare to the median offer? Do funding offers vary by concentration: Finance, Accounting, Strategy, Marketing and Bus Econ? If so, what are approximate averages for these different concentrations? Also, does funding vary by school ranking? What are average offers in the T20, T50, etc?

    Just another applicant trying to inform himself before making a decision.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Offers are often based on the cost of living in the city where the university is located.

    An offer of 30k can be excellent in a city with a relatively low cost of living, and awful in other places. So, do not compare those offers with each other without taking into consideration the differences in cost of living.

    There are differences depending on the concentration, but I think that for concentrations in business schools those differences are not so significant. Even if there are differences depending on ranking, I think you would need to go quite lower in ranking position to see ranking as a decisive factor to predict the value of funding.

    Also, although I don't know much about this, I've heard about significant differences in taxes that are deducted from your stipend and part of scholarships.

    So, to evaluate those offer on the financial side, you need to take the value of the offer, estimate the taxes that you are going to pay, and the cost of living of the corresponding city (especially to rent an apartment). With that in mind, 30k for a PhD in Texas is probably a lot better than 40k for a PhD in California.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Yes 30-40K is a good offer, 25-35ish is what I think is the average. I'm not positive that absolutely true, but I believe that it is.

    I know that funding during a PhD program is a big deal. Being able to live comfortably without worrying too much about paying rent and buying food is incredibly important. I don't want to downplay that in the slightest. But finances should be one of the last things to consider when making a decision. Did you vibe better with a program than another? Is one school significantly higher ranked than the others? Is there a certain faculty member you'd really prefer to work with? Is there a city that you would prefer for whatever reasons? Basically there are a lot of questions that you need to ask before you think too much about funding. The thing to keep in mind is that each school has PhD students who are surviving, so you can survive.

    Now if you're asking whether or not you should ask for more money that's a different question altogether. There isn't a correct answer to that question. But you need to understand that there is likely not a lot that a school can do in terms of offers, so they may not be flexible on their offer. That being said, what's the worst thing that can happen? They say no and you aren't out anything.
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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    When I was applying to programs, 25-35K appeared to be the average and 40K would have been considered a high offer. However, just in the last couple of years, I have noticed that stipends have increased pretty significantly in some of the programs I originally applied to. I would guess that stipends less than 30K would be considered "low", 30-35K average, and 40K on the higher end of the average. While the floor appears to have increased, I don't think the ceiling has. So stipends above 40K are still somewhat rare based upon what I've seen so far. However, stipends in the 35-40K range have definitely become more common.
    Most schools seem to structure their funding with lower base stipends and then they add fellowships on top of that. At my university, the base stipend is very low, but the fellowships are pretty high which makes them competitive (assuming you get a fellowship!)
    Besides considering the cost of living, I also suggest asking questions about what the RA/TA responsibilities are (both formal and informal) and how long they are renewable. Most programs are renewable for 4 or 5 years, but there are many people who take 5 or 6 years to complete their PhD.
    phdstipends.com lists stipend details across different disciplines. I am not sure how active it is now, but it definitely helped me to determine what stipends were considered low, moderate, or high when I was looking at programs.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    The thing to keep in mind is that each school has PhD students who are surviving, so you can survive.
    Thanks. This is precisely what I was thinking. Because their current students are surviving on the same stipend, it seems impossible to negotiate better funding if I don't have better-funded offers from comparable schools (comparable in quality, fit, etc). However, if I receive better-funded offer from comparable schools, it seems reasonable to ask the school to match.

    It seems it is possible to negotiate the offer along multiple dimensions. One could ask the program to hold funding constant but reduce/eliminate TA/RA obligations. One could ask the program to add more money, without any changes to existing TA/RA duties. One could ask for both increased money and reduced responsibilities, although this seems too ambitious. These were two variables that immediately jumped at me. What are other levers that applicants can push when negotiating? Along which dimensions would you negotiate?

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Also, how do these negotiations normally proceed? Does the candidate quote a desired amount, or do they just inform the school that they are seeking better funding and hope the school comes back with a reasonable improvement?

    Further, is it poor form to request a funding increase and later reject the school's offer once funding has been increased? This is important for timing of the negotiation.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by BCB View Post
    When I was applying to programs, 25-35K appeared to be the average and 40K would have been considered a high offer. However, just in the last couple of years, I have noticed that stipends have increased pretty significantly in some of the programs I originally applied to. I would guess that stipends less than 30K would be considered "low", 30-35K average, and 40K on the higher end of the average. While the floor appears to have increased, I don't think the ceiling has. So stipends above 40K are still somewhat rare based upon what I've seen so far. However, stipends in the 35-40K range have definitely become more common.
    Most schools seem to structure their funding with lower base stipends and then they add fellowships on top of that. At my university, the base stipend is very low, but the fellowships are pretty high which makes them competitive (assuming you get a fellowship!)
    Besides considering the cost of living, I also suggest asking questions about what the RA/TA responsibilities are (both formal and informal) and how long they are renewable. Most programs are renewable for 4 or 5 years, but there are many people who take 5 or 6 years to complete their PhD.
    phdstipends.com lists stipend details across different disciplines. I am not sure how active it is now, but it definitely helped me to determine what stipends were considered low, moderate, or high when I was looking at programs.
    Thank you. I am looking at phdstipends.com. It is very helpful.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    I made it through on $19,700....all those sound like great offers to me.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by saleem View Post
    One could ask the program to hold funding constant but reduce/eliminate TA/RA obligations.
    I don't know what kind of TA/RA obligations you would have. But, at least here, reducing/eliminating TA/RA obligations would be a really bad idea. Because they are often not only obligations, but also opportunities. They can lead to a chance to get your name into a paper a professor is writing, to present a paper during a conference, to network with other people in academia, to watch more closely how successful professors work, a lot of things that can be really important and interesting.

    Of course, not all obligations are good opportunities, but as RA/TA I have been able to get insights that I wouldn't be able to if I just acted as a PhD student.

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    Re: What is a good funding offer for PhD in Business schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by saleem View Post
    Also, how do these negotiations normally proceed? Does the candidate quote a desired amount, or do they just inform the school that they are seeking better funding and hope the school comes back with a reasonable improvement?

    Further, is it poor form to request a funding increase and later reject the school's offer once funding has been increased? This is important for timing of the negotiation.
    I don't know specifically how things would go down and I get the feeling that it would be different based on the school and the culture. I think you would make a stronger case if you came in with a different offer from another school.

    Alright if I were you, here's what I would do. I would talk to your point of contact person at the school you are trying to negotiate with. Tell them frankly that you are very interested in their program and that you would prefer them however you have another offer from school X. Let them know that school X is offering $Y and that you were wondering if there were anything that their school can do in regard to your stipend or TA hours. Ask if there is a fellowship you may be qualified for, see if you can negotiate working as a PA (or whatever the school calls it) for your adviser rather than a TA. Whatever you negotiate, ensure that you get it in writing and that the timeline is firm. Basically you don't want to get reduced hours for year 1 only to get slammed the following years. I would also ask maybe about summer support. Then also ask about maybe getting more money for conferences etc...

    In general there is not a lot of flexibility in terms of real money that schools can offer. Generally that is set by University. But yeah, reduced hours, fellowships, scholarships and conference funding are things that the school may be able to move on. Here's the thing, though, you need to go into this not as a business person negotiating a salary increase (save that for when you're on the market and get a job offer). Go into this as a humble student just trying to make ends meet. There are a few things that you don't want to do. First, upset the department and make them think that you are difficult to work with. They hold your future literally in their hands. Don't make enemies from the start. Second, don't talk to your fellow classmates about any of the things you negotiate. It will only lead to jealousy and won't make you any friends. Trust me, you'll be seeing those classmates more than your family or friends for the next 5 years, don't start off on a bad foot. Finally, I wouldn't ask the school to match another offer, but rather ask if there is anything that they can do to increase your funding or lessen your load. Framing it in that way is a little better. One more thing, if you negotiate stuff with the school, you better accept their offer. It would be a terrible thing to do to a school to go somewhere else afterward.
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