The story of graduate school in the United States. Part 3: How much graduate student gets and what it costs to go to do PhD

    In the first two parts, I described my admission to graduate school and the cost of living in the United States. In this part, we will come even closer to the most interesting, and more precisely, I will tell you where and how much money graduate students come from, how much they pay for studies, and what it costs to go here (or not to go). And finally, there will be a beginning of a description of how to come here.

    Part 1: Admission

    Lives here

    Part 2: Cost of Living in the USA

    Lives here

    Little Preface

    All that is written here is my personal experience (fair for the Automotive Engineering PhD program at Clemson University, South Carolina) and my personal opinion. I’ll say right away that I like to do what I do and live where I live, but that doesn’t mean that this will suit you either. My choice was made consciously and I do not regret it, but I do not urge everyone to make the same choice, paradise on Earth does not exist, there are only different options for compromises.

    Part 3: Where does the graduate student get money and why go to the USA for PhD

    Part 3.1: Sad

    We figured out the cost of living, it's time to go to the saddest part :), but everything is in order.

    Let's start with the fact that in the USA there is no free education, not at all. There is education for which you do not have to pay, but this only means that it is not the student who pays for it, but the professor, some fund, some company or someone else. It is also a fact that education is expensive even for Americans, especially if they are from a different state. Due to the fact that graduate students usually do not have money, you have to look for exactly the option when someone pays for you. Of the most popular options:
    1) TA (Teaching Assistantship)
    2) RA (Research Assistantship)
    3) All sorts of different funds from the Fulbright series (everything is much better with money there, but you need to know about them and there are some limitations from the series 2 years to work at home after study (also cost by the way :)))

    Most often, for the first year, students are given a TA position and they are engaged in helping the professor conduct the course: checking the home of the undergrounds, conducting laboratory tests, distributing all kinds of leaflets, etc. etc. After the student dismissed TA, they can be given RA (although I personally missed the TA stage and started drawing immediately) and then the student starts some kind of research project of the professor (roughly speaking, it becomes a cheap labor). Officially, the student must work 20 hours a week, i.e. 0.5 rates, in fact this rarely happens and almost all work 20-60 hours a week (at least we had one Chinese, whom I always saw in the laboratory, collecting some kind of engine on a dynamometer, and it always means: Monday early morning, saturday midnight, normal working hours). Graduate students are only allowed to work officially on campus, usually in the role of TA or RA. If the tax office discovers that you are receiving money from American firms, then there is a great chance to leave home ahead of time forever. But usually this is not a problem, since taking 4 courses + RA, there is still no time for normal work, so you should not really hope that a lot of money can be earned by freelance all the time. This is all about PhD, with masters it’s a little more fun, they usually don’t get TA or RA (although they sometimes give TA) and they have to pay for everything. And they also have to take much more courses in order to finish in 2 years. For example, many Indians (yes, I know about Indians, but it’s easier and more understandable) take a loan at home from the bank and go to the USA for 2 years to study, and then they return and give it back.

    Now let's move on to the bad part :). PhD students are always paid so that they can live normally, but cannot save anything. Those. if you live somewhere in South Carolina and have an RA, then they pay you (or rather, to us :)) about $ 1,100 a month in net, plus they pay most of the cost of study. Moreover, once a semester, you need to pay ~ $ 1400 for medical insurance, all sorts of university fees, etc. etc. Those. from 1100 you need to take away about 300 and we get the amount that you need to live on (by pure chance it is equal to the amount that I spend per month :)). If you live in the north or in California, then you will receive 1500-2000 per month, but you will also pay more for housing / food, i.e. on average, everything will be exactly the same as in my south.

    As you can see, you should not go here for money (at least, you should not go to the PhD program). I’ll say more, after you come and start receiving significantly less than what you received in Ukraine as a student, it becomes very sad. And I can also say that in Europe graduate students receive several times more, this makes it even sadder and you begin to think, why am I in the USA and not in Europe? But this concludes the sad part. I think that by this moment I had scared enough people and there will be no more Russian post-graduate students in the USA :).

    Part 3.2: Not So Sad :)

    For those who are not afraid, I will describe why it is still worth going to study in graduate school.

    Firstly, officially you get this money part-time, i.e. if you count at full time, then this is close to the average salary of a very decent programmer in the CIS (minus Moscow / Kiev) and you get an education for which others pay a lot of tens of thousands of dollars. So we must assume that you simply invest in your education, and this, as you know, is one of the best investments (under certain conditions, which will be mentioned later).

    Secondly, you have a very unique opportunity to extend your student life. And this is the last chance, even getting a second tower at 40, the sensations will not be the same when peers are around. It may sound like a trifle, but it is really cool and there will be no second chance. I think that older people will confirm this.

    But that was in general, and now a little more about the USA and my personal experience / opinion:
    1) Americans spend a lot of money on the academy. As a result, there is access to any of the most modern and expensive equipment. For example, this is what our research center looks like, where students are given new BMWs, Mazda, Fords, machine tools for many hundreds of thousands of dollars and virtually unlimited access to materials for experiments.
    Show me a university in the CIS, where students will be given for mockery just such a new behu five (photo old, at that time it was like the last)?
    BMW 5 Series
    I was also quite surprised when we were asked to buy laptops for work, but did not have a budget, and when we scooped up $ 4k, signed papers and did not even ask why it was so expensive.

    2) Here they teach exactly as I wanted in Ukraine. I am not saying that education is better than in Ukraine, it is different. There is much more practice and all knowledge is tied to practical application, but in Ukraine there was a pure theory (but the theory, as it turned out, was better than in the states). My personal opinion is that there is no point in going here to get a bachelor's degree, you can (still) get better knowledge at home, but on one condition: the student himself must understand why all these strange and, first (second) , third, tenth) look useless things, since no one will tell him about it. In the states, on the contrary, if they talk about some kind of control system, then they will give something real as an example (in our case there were cars). As a result when you do your homework and get the value of some parameter 10000, then in the case of Ukraine you simply write it, because you have no idea what it can be. But if you get that the wheel jumped up 10 meters, you immediately realize that somewhere there is a mistake.

    3) And here they are constantly trying to introduce students to people from the industry. For example, one of the BMW directors came to us from Germany to give lectures over the course of a week on how they make cars. Or another example: in order for us to talk and ask questions, they brought us a bunch of presidents and vice-presidents of rather big companies from the Okuma, Michelin, SEMA, Timken series (these are industrial offices at the MS, Google, FB level in their fields). Or at one business course, we were constantly taken to receptions where we could talk with the presidents of large banks, financiers, and owners of large successful firms.

    4) The fact is that the USA is still the center of all high-tech developments and there are many different interesting laboratories. For example, I worked at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories for two summers (MERL ) and I can say that it’s really cool and interesting when you see how technologies are being developed that in 5-10 years will go into production and millions (or maybe billions) will use them. Moreover, the main thing in such places is not even the lab itself, but people. This is very interesting when you work with top people (in their fields) of the planet who are developing something new. For example, one guy was sitting opposite me, the code of which is used by the whole planet (he wrote the font renderer that is used in Flash), other groups developed pieces of H.264 that we all watch or LTE which is already in every second phone, and to the court Apple vs Samsung another man walked, since the patent for zoom with two fingers also belongs to this lab.

    5) It must be said right away that internships are another source of income for graduate students. (Otherwise, personally, I would have already gone to the minus). I can’t say how much they pay exactly, but the salaries are quite adequate for industrial interns.

    6) Unlike Europe, in the states everything is easier with the language, everywhere there is only one English and everyone understands you.

    7) Due to many public organizations, here you can travel to quite a lot of interesting places almost on a ball. Yes, and eat on the ball, you can almost every day :)

    8) In large cities, there are many rallies where you can meet people from the same area and chat on interesting topics live with a glass of beer (most often sponsored by a company)

    9) There are very, very many foreigners. There are two big advantages to this: you can learn any language and easily find a native speaker to practice. And also here they are very, very nice to foreigners (as far as I understand, everything is not always so joyful in Europe). Well, you can learn a lot of interesting things about different cultures.

    10) As for me, people here do their job better and are an order of magnitude more friendly, at least in the bureaucratic sphere. For example, I was very, very surprised when, after buying a car, I managed to register it and get the numbers in ONE HOUR.

    11) Well, PhD sounds good :)

    It's time to take stock. IMHO, it makes no sense to go here for a paradise life, here it is not. And it makes no sense to go here to study in the hope of making money while studying, it will not work. But if you are interested in being one of those who move humanity forward, and not just consume, then you will like it. In general, everything is simple here (at least for the Americans): there is work - everything is good and stable, there is no work - everything is bad and you need to look for another.

    Part 3.3: Anyone interested?

    I think that after the previous story, there are very few people who want to go to the states, but I still will tell you about one interesting way to get here.
    My friend, with whom we worked here on a project, recently defended himself and got a job as a professor at a university nearby. He also managed to get a research grant somewhere, and for complete happiness he lacks only the last component: graduate students. Finding a good graduate student is actually as difficult as finding a professor who agrees to pay for the graduate student, so I decided to do a good deed (almost) and solve the problem of both sides. Therefore, the idea came up: to hire several fifth-year students (in fact, this is a soft restriction and everyone is welcome), give them some tasks and, depending on the results, invite 2-3 people here to graduate school. At the moment, we are still trying to deal with the payment process (there is bureaucracy everywhere and we need to understand how to get around it :)), as well as tasks. Probably,

    And now a few words about what we are doing here.
    The project is related to industrial automation, or more precisely, to the automation of writing programs for CNC milling machines, simulation of material processing and GPU calculations. Those. work with geometry, 3D graphics, mathematics, GPGPU, simulation, a little computer (maybe more) and it is possible that some of this will go to the web and be considered in the clouds. In general, everything and a lot :) Of the languages ​​currently Python, C ++, OpenCL.

    For example, I’ll give a video of my simulator, an analog of which you will have to do if you decide to go here :)

    In general, if there are people among the habituators or guests of the capital :) who are interested in obtaining PhD in the states, I’m on the soap (welcome POINT to POINT cnc DOG gmail POINT com), and I will answer with details when we deal with the bureaucracy and prepare tasks .
    Minimum requirements for candidates: a desire to study, a great desire to study, English at an adequate level (pass TOEFL and communicate with a professor via Skype at the time of the move), know one of the programming languages ​​(C ++, Python, or the ability to quickly switch to them).

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