This report presents the results of research into stipends for PhD candidates in English conducted between summer 2021 and spring 2022. The report surveys the top 135 universities in the U.S. News and World Report 2022 “Best National University Ranking,” plus the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Of these universities, 75 offer a PhD in English and guarantee full funding for five or more years. Graduate administrators at three universities declined to grant permission to have current or historical stipend amounts published, citing legal concerns (appendix A). The remaining 72 institutions form the data set. Stipend amounts are expressed in absolute dollars (table 1), in cost-of-living-adjusted dollars (table 2), relative to endowment size for universities with institutional endowments of $3.5 billion or less (figure 1), and broken down by type of university (public or private) (tables 3a–3b) and by region (tables 4a–4d).
The stipend data were gathered by consulting program websites and, if no URL is cited, by canvassing departmental faculty and staff members responsible for administering English PhD programs, often holding the title “Director of Graduate Studies” (DGS).1 In some cases, the standard stipend must be expressed as a dollar range rather than a fixed amount, for reasons specified in the notes.
All figures given in this report are gross pay, reflecting neither tax withholding schemes nor any mandatory student fees. All figures are rounded to the nearest dollar. All figures reflect the base or standard stipend offer, not including supplemental funding offered on a competitive basis at the department, college, or university level. All figures represent twelve-month pay, regardless of whether the program distinguishes between academic-year stipend and any summer stipend, provided both are guaranteed. While every effort was made to procure academic year 2021–22 or 2022–23 figures, in a few cases this was not possible. A limitation of the data therefore is that they mix current and recent stipend amounts. For some programs, the standard stipend increases or decreases during the course of the degree. Where the changes in pay occur in specific years, they are accordingly factored into the numbers given in the report, which represent a five-year average in these instances. However, where the changes depend on the unpredictable completion of program requirements, or reflect differential pay based on past degrees earned or not earned at the time of matriculation, I express the standard stipend as a range. Because programs with a stipend range are ranked and averaged according to the average of the low and high ends of the range, the report may slightly overstate or understate the total value of the stipend over the length of the degree depending how candidates tend to move through those programs, or depending on the academic background of the candidates who matriculate into them.
Cost-of-living comparisons were made using Nerdwallet’s cost-of-living calculator (“Cost”), checked against the standardized cost-of-living rating on BestPlaces (“2022 Cost”). Nerdwallet’s calculator has the advantage of splitting up geography into medium-sized benchmark areas, often roughly corresponding to a commutable radius around a town or city, as opposed to the jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction comparisons of BestPlaces and other cost-of-living calculators, which would be more pertinent to real estate purchases. However, use of the Nerdwallet tool entails limitations, occasionally acute. Some university campuses are located closer to available Nerdwallet benchmarks than others. Certain rural and suburban campuses are located in jurisdictions with somewhat higher or lower cost of living than the closest available Nerdwallet benchmark, often a city. These limitations were corrected for in the more severe cases and to the extent possible by averaging multiple benchmarks selected for geographic proximity and comparable cost of living (as given on BestPlaces) to the location of the campus, as noted in each case in table 2. The possibility of PhD candidates’ commuting to campus from a distance greater than the radius of a Nerdwallet benchmark, not to mention the possibility of their living farther afield when teaching remotely in the COVID-19 pandemic or dissertating, further complicates a direct benchmark-to-benchmark cost-of-living conversion.
It was particularly difficult to determine the cost of living for one campus, Rutgers University, New Brunswick. This is because Rutgers is within commuting distance of New York, the highest cost-of-living metropolitan area in the United States, coupled with the fact that the Nerdwallet benchmark to which the city of New Brunswick belongs, “Middlesex-Monmouth,” covers two New Jersey counties that include many towns as distant from New Brunswick to the south and west as Brooklyn and Manhattan are to the north and east. That is, New Brunswick is inadvantageously situated in its Nerdwallet benchmark for the purposes of stating an average cost of living that captures patterns of commuting to and from campus. Commutes from south and west of campus are included, while commutes from north and east are excluded. In the Midwest and West, where Nerdwallet tends to have fewer benchmark areas, suburban and smaller urban campuses within commuting distance of a large city often are benchmarked to that city—for example, the University of Colorado, Boulder, to the Denver benchmark and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to the Detroit benchmark. It would therefore seem to be inconsistent to omit to factor New York into the cost-of-living-adjusted value of a stipend paid by Rutgers University, New Brunswick, particularly as the difference between the cost of living in New York and New Brunswick is so much greater than the difference between the cost of living in Detroit and Ann Arbor, or between Denver and Boulder. My solution, to average the average of the Nerdwallet results for Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens together with the results for Middlesex-Monmouth, is an admittedly provisional one that risks overstating the cost of living of pursuing a PhD in English at Rutgers, which, after all, is not located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Queens. In a private communication, the DGS reports that a little over one quarter of current Rutgers English graduate candidates reside in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, or adjacent Jersey City, NJ. I consider this proportion large enough to confirm my initial expectation that the very high cost of living in New York should factor into an estimate of the cost of living associated with a Rutgers English PhD in some way. I have not systematically polled DGSs about where candidates live. If nothing else, I hope the difficult case of Rutgers illuminates the limitations of representing cost of living with a single standardized number in an age of urban agglomeration, rapid transport, and a prevailing tolerance for work commutes of up to one hour or so.
Endowment figures (figure 1) were drawn from the fiscal year 2020 statistical report on North American university endowments published by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (U.S. and Canadian Institutions).
This stipend report is not a substitute for a holistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of an individual PhD program and is not intended to guide prospective PhD applicants toward or away from any given program. The report does not take account of such significant variables as relative strength of the program in the applicant’s area of specialty; any competitive fellowships and stipends available; exam requirements burden; teaching and service expectations; cultural life and nearby off-campus intellectual institutions; the number of years of full funding guaranteed past five, if any; or record of placing graduates into full-time academic employment. The report isolates the stipend as one important factor among several shaping the experience, opportunity cost, and financial, intellectual, and professional benefit of pursuing graduate study in English. Graduate candidates are workers as well as students, and the stipend is their salary. It is hoped that by understanding these data, program administrators, graduate administrators, department chairs, current PhDs, and prospective PhD applicants can form an evidence-based impression of what the English PhD pays around the country and in divergent institutional and regional settings.
For completeness, appendixes list the universities among the 135 that either offer the PhD in English but do not guarantee full funding for five or more years (appendix B) or do not offer the PhD in English (appendix C).
1 I thank Anna Chang for assistance gathering updated stipend amounts at a late stage of the project.
“Best National University Rankings.” U.S. News and World Report, 2022, www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities.
“Cost of Living Calculator.” Nerdwallet, 2022, www.nerdwallet.com/cost-of-living-calculator.
“2022 Cost of Living Calculator.” BestPlaces, 2022, www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/.
U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20. National Association of College and University Business Officers, 2021, www.nacubo.org/-/media/Documents/Research/2020-NTSE-Public-Tables–Endowment-Market-Values–FINAL-FEBRUARY-19-2021.ashx.
Table 1. English PhD Standard Stipend Nationwide Comparison
|6||University of California, Berkeley||$34,000||2022-23|
|7||University of Southern California||$34,000||2022–23|
|10||University of Pennsylvania||$32,255||2021–22|
Table 1 Average: $25,385
Table 1 Median: $25,000
Table 1 Notes
1 The figure reflects a stipend of $30,800 for the first year and $36,570 thereafter, averaged over five years.
2 gfs.stanford.edu/salary/salary22/tal_all.pdf. I obtained this figure by tripling the standard arts and sciences per-quarter rate to reflect Stanford University’s three-quarter, nine-month academic year.
3 The figure reflects an academic-year stipend of $27,605 ($3,067 per month), plus a summer stipend that is the average of the 2020–21 summer stipend of $5,300 ($1,767 per month) and three months of the 2021–22 academic-year rate—namely, $7,251 ($2,417 per month). Brown University is phasing in a summer stipend to match the academic-year stipend over the next year.
6 The figure reflects an academic-year stipend of $28,654, plus a summer stipend of $6,037 for the first four years, averaged over five years.
8 english.rutgers.edu/images/5_10_2021_-_Fall_2022_grad_website_updated_des_of_funding_for_prospectives.pdf. The figure reflects an academic-year stipend of $25,000 for the first year and $29,426 thereafter, plus a summer stipend of $5,000 the first summer and $2,500 each of the next two summers, averaged over five years.
9 The figure is anticipated for 2022–23 following an admissions pause in 2021–22.
10 policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1238. The figure reflects a stipend of $25,000 with $1,000 in summer funding in year 3 and $4,500 in summer funding in years 4-5, averaged over five years.
11 The figures reflect a stipend range of $18,240–$25,000 for the first year and $23,835 thereafter, averaged over five years.
12 The figure reflects a stipend of $25,166 for the first year, $24,166 for the second through fourth years, and $19,000 for the fifth year, averaged over five years.
13 grad.ucdavis.edu/sites/default/files/upload/files/facstaff/salary_21-22_october_2021.pdf. I obtained this figure by halving the standard teaching assistant annual rate to reflect the rule that PhD candidates at the University of California, Davis, may work no more than half time.
14 Lehigh University guarantees full funding for five years for candidates classified as full-time. This includes all candidates except a few who are nontraditional students and bring an outside salary or other outside funding to the degree.
16 The figures reflect an academic-year stipend of $17,100, plus a summer stipend range of $2,500–$5,000.
17 The figures reflect a stipend of $23,688 for the first year and a range of $19,480–$20,250 thereafter, averaged over five years.
19 The University of Utah guarantees full funding for five years for those entering with a BA but four years for those entering with an MA.
20 Among the doctoral degrees offered by the English department at Purdue University, West Lafayette, the one in question is the PhD in literature, theory, and cultural studies.
21 The University of Florida guarantees full funding for six years for those entering with a BA but four years for those entering with an MA.
Table 2. English PhD Standard Stipend Nationwide Comparison, Adjusted for Cost of Living (Expressed in Boston-Area Dollars)
|2||Washington University in St. Louis||$48,183||2021–22|
|8||University of Michigan||$43,867||2021–22|
|9||University of Pennsylvania||$43,814||2021–22|
|10||Southern Methodist University||$43,528||2021–22|
Table 2 Average: $33,479
Table 2 Median: $31,619
Table 2 Notes
1 I used the benchmark for Philadelphia, which, although geographically distant from State College / University Park, has a more comparable cost of living than other benchmarks for Pennsylvania.
2 For programs located in New York City—in this listing, Columbia University; New York University; Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Fordham University—I averaged the results for Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
3 I averaged the results for Austin and Houston.
4 I averaged the New York City triborough average with the results for Middlesex-Monmouth, NJ. This reflects Rutgers’s liminal geographic location: it is much closer to New York City, without being in the city, than any other campus on this list, and a substantial minority of Rutgers PhD candidates commute to campus from the city.
5 I averaged the results for San Francisco and Oakland.
6 I averaged the results for Bakersfield and San Diego. While Los Angeles is closer geographically, it has a much higher cost of living than Riverside and is just outside of convenient commuting range.
7 I averaged the results for Boston and Pittsfield.
8 I averaged the results for Queens and Albany, a better approximation of the cost of living on eastern Long Island than averaging the cost of living in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
9 I averaged the results for Los Angeles and San Francisco.
10 I averaged the results for Washington, DC, and Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, MD.
Table 3a. English PhD Standard Stipend Nationwide Comparison: Private Universities
|6||University of Southern California||$34,000||2022–23|
|9||University of Pennsylvania||$32,255||2021–22|
|10||Southern Methodist University||$32,160||2021–22|
Table 3a Average: $28,854
Table 3a Median: $29,521
Table 3b. English PhD Standard Stipend Nationwide Comparison: Public Universities
|1||University of California, Berkeley||$34,000||2022-23|
|2||Rutgers University, New Brunswick||$30,937||2022–23|
|3||University of Virginia||$30,000||2021–22|
|4||University of Michigan||$29,196||2021–22|
|5||University of California, Los Angeles||$24,200–$31,800||2021–22|
|6||University of Wisconsin, Madison||$27,000||2022-23|
|7||Graduate Center, City University of New York||$26,800||2021–22|
|8||University of Colorado, Boulder||$26,330||2021–22|
|9||University of Connecticut||$24,800–$29,013||2021–22|
|10||University of California, Santa Barbara||$22,000–$30,000||2021–22|
Table 3b Average: $22,449
Table 3b Median: $21,716
Table 4a. English PhD Standard Stipend Comparison: West and Southwest
|2||University of California, Berkeley||$34,000||2022-23|
|3||University of Southern California||$34,000||2022–23|
|4||Southern Methodist University||$32,160||2021–22|
|6||University of California, Los Angeles||$24,200–$31,800||2021–22|
|7||University of Colorado, Boulder||$26,330||2021–22|
|8||University of California, Santa Barbara||$22,000–$30,000||2021–22|
|10||University of California, Riverside||$21,191–$25,691||2021–22|
Table 4a Average: $26,422
Table 4a Median: $26,000
Table 4b. English PhD Standard Stipend Comparison: Midwest
|2||University of Chicago||$32,000||2021–22|
|3||University of Michigan||$29,196||2021–22|
|4||Washington University in St. Louis||$28,152||2021–22|
|5||Loyola University, Chicago||$28,000||2021–22|
|6||University of Wisconsin, Madison||$27,000||2022-23|
|7||University of Notre Dame||$25,000||2021–22|
|8||University of Illinois, Urbana||$22,716–$24,068||2020–21|
|9||Case Western Reserve University||$22,000||2022–23|
|10||Miami University, OH||$21,931||2019–20|
Table 4b Average: $23,234
Table 4b Median: $21,966
Table 4c. English PhD Standard Stipend Comparison: Northeast
|6||University of Pennsylvania||$32,255||2021–22|
|7||Johns Hopkins University||$31,500||2021–22|
|8||Rutgers University, New Brunswick||$30,541||2022–23|
|9||New York University||$30,238||2021–22|
Table 4c Average: $26,923
Table 4c Median: $26,453
Table 4d. English PhD Standard Stipend Comparison: South
|3||University of Virginia||$30,000||2021–22|
|5||University of Tennessee, Knoxville||$23,332||2021–22|
|6||University of Miami||$22,990||2021–22|
|7||University of Georgia||$18,772||2021–21|
|8||University of Kentucky||$17,421||2021–22|
|9||University of Florida||$17,000||2021–22|
Table 4d Average: $23,132
Table 4d Median: $22,990
Appendix A. English PhD Programs Declining to Have Stipend Data Published
Appendix B. English PhD Programs Not Guaranteeing Full Funding for Five or More Years
|1||Arizona State University, Tempe|
|2||Florida State University|
|3||George Washington University¹|
|6||Binghamton University, State University of New York²|
|8||Texas Christian University|
|10||University of California, Irvine³|
|11||University of Delaware, Newark⁴|
|12||University of Denver|
Appendix B Notes
1 The department will “attempt to fully fund all students admitted to the PhD program for five years” (english.columbian.gwu.edu/graduate-admissions-aid#phd).
2 Guarantees full funding for four years.
3 “All admitted students receive a multi-year funding package” (www.humanities.uci.edu/english/graduate/index.php).
4 Admitted applicants are “typically” offered five to six years of funding (www.english.udel.edu/graduate/prospective-students/funding).
5 “All PhD students may be eligible” for full funding for five or more years, by application (english.uoregon.edu/graduate/current-students/fellowships).
6 Guarantees full funding for four years.
Appendix C. Universities Not Offering the PhD in English
|2||Brigham Young University, UT*|
|3||California Institute of Technology|
|8||Colorado School of Mines|
Appendix C Notes
* Offers a terminal MA in English.
1 Offers a terminal MA in literature, culture, and technology.
2 Offers a terminal MA in English literature and publishing.
3 Offers a PhD in rhetoric and professional communication.
4 Offers a PhD in communication, rhetoric, and digital media.
5 Offers a PhD in communication and rhetoric.
6 Offers a PhD in literature. The University of California, Davis, and the University of Kansas also offer a PhD in literature, yet, unlike the University of California, San Diego, or the University of California, Santa Cruz, the Davis and Kansas degrees are housed in English departments and retain an explicitly anglophone focus.
7 Offers a PhD in rhetoric and writing.
*Campus-specific endowment information is not available in the National Association of College and University Business Officers report.
Eric Weiskott is professor of English at Boston College, where he directs the English PhD program. His most recent book is Meter and Modernity in English Verse, 1350–1650 (U of Pennsylvania P, 2021).