I spent over $1,100 to get into a Ph.D. program. I’m sharing the details both for people who are considering applying to grad school and want a clearer sense of the cost, and for people who might otherwise never consider what these costs could look like.
What I spent $1,100 on
The biggest piece was application fees. I applied to 8 Ph.D. programs, which seems to be a pretty normal number. Application fees ranged from $60 to $105, averaging around $75, with a total cost of $625.
I spent about $35 on prep for the GRE test, getting just one book and a set of vocabulary flash cards. (GRE prep courses can run a lot pricier.)
The GRE test itself set me back another $185. I actually took the test a few years ago, and it’s up to $205 now. I opted not to take a subject area GRE.
I also spent $189 sending my GRE scores to 7 programs. One of the schools I applied to did not allow GRE scores. (If I’d known what schools I was applying to when I took the test, sending some of those score reports would have been included in the test fee.)
Along with that, I spent $66 on transcripts. I needed transcripts from the 2 schools I attended sent to 4 different schools. The other schools only needed me to upload a copy of my transcript.
Application Fees: $615
GRE Prep: $35
GRE Test: $185
GRE Scores: $189
A few more thoughts about this:
A pricey application process obviously favors people with more wealth, even if some schools do offer fee waivers for applicants with lower incomes. Despite the application fees, Ph.D. programs often get hundreds of applicants for less than a dozen spots.
The cost of grad school applications is particularly striking when you consider that being in a Ph.D. program can in many ways be as much a job as an education. Often you’re serving as a teaching or research assistant and otherwise supporting the work of your advisor and department.
My $1,100 doesn’t include other things I spent money on that less directly contributed to a successful round of applications (or the small thank you gifts I sent to my letter of recommendation writers).
For example, I learned about the program I’ll be joining this fall from a current graduate student who I met at a conference. Including registration and travel, it cost me over $600 to attend that event.
I’m proud to say that this fall I’ll be joining the Social Psychology program at UC Santa Cruz. My work will continue to focus on marginalized sexualities and relationships, particularly LGBTQ and non-monogamous identities.