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Top 5 PhD Scholarships in USA for Indian Students

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  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Mar 12,2024 01:06 PM IST

Pursuing a PhD is an incredible feat on its own, but doing so from an international university is something only a few students can think of. However, it is easier said than done, as pursuing a PhD in the USA without any external help may leave students in hefty student debt and a years-long chain of loan repayment. Students can dodge this bullet with proper guidance and some help from scholarships to pursue a PhD in the USA in 2025. Read the blog for more information. 

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Pursuing a Doctorate in the United States is an ambitious and intellectually rewarding endeavour, but it comes with a big bag of student loans, causing significant financial challenges for many. Fortunately, many prestigious scholarships are available for international students who wish to pursue their PhD in USA and make breakthroughs in their academic fields. These scholarships are tailor-made to encourage international students with financial constraints and help them study. However, not many students know about these scholarships. In this blog, students may find interesting and useful scholarships to pursue a PhD in the USA in 2025. 

Top 5 Scholarships to Pursue PhD in USA

Financing a PhD in the USA, especially for international students, can be daunting due to the high tuition fees and living expenses. However, numerous scholarships are available for international students to help ease their financial burden and make their dream of pursuing a doctorate in the U.S. a reality. Here are some popular scholarship programs that students can consider to study in the USA

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Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship 

The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship offers yearly scholarships to graduate students from developing countries. Aga Khan Foundation selects students with no other means of financing their postgraduate studies. This program focuses on students with strong academic records and a keen interest in pursuing development-related studies to bring positive change in their home countries. 

AwardAward ConditionsEligibility Criteria
The scholarship awards 50% grants and 50% loans to the recipient.• This scholarship is only awarded for the first two years, after which the students are expected to manage their finances on their own. 
• The student's head or the guardian is supposed to co-sign the agreement with the applicant. 
• A five per cent annum service charge is levied on the loan amount. 
• The loan typically has a repayment period of 5 years. 
• The award only covers tuition fees and the cost of living. It doesn't cover any other expense or cost of international travel. 
• This scholarship has an age criterion, as the student must be 30 years old or below.
• The student must be a citizen of an eligible country.
• Students must have an excellent academic record.
• Those candidates who have relevant experience will be given priority.
• Financial assistance will depend on the needs of the students.
• Students may be asked to prove that they have applied to multiple funding sources.
• Students must be admitted to reputed postgraduate institutions.
• Applicant's extracurricular activities, goals, and achievements also play a crucial role in their selection. 

Fulbright Foreign Student Program

The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious scholarship initiatives in the United States. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers this scholarship. This program enables graduate students, young professionals, and artists to study and conduct research in the United States. This program provides around 4000 doctorate scholarships to international students who wish to pursue PhD in the USA. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program offers two fellowships:

2025-2026 Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships

Below are the awards and eligibility criteria associated with fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships:

AwardEligibility Criteria
• This scholarship provides J-1 visa support to the students. 
• Almost every expense, including tuition fees, living expenses, and travel costs, is covered under this scholarship. 
• The applicant must have done a reasonable study about their research objectives, especially in the identification on or before November 1, 2023. 
• One of the recommendation letters must be from the PhD supervisor and must comment on the applicant's research need for the fellowship. The letter must indicate the PhD registration date and topic. 
• The thesis submission date should be three months after the Fullbright- Nehru end date. 
• If the applicant is employed, they must follow the instructions regarding the employer's endorsement.
• The applicant must upload a copy of the original published/ presented paper or extracts from Masters'/ M.Phil. thesis on the online application form (not exceeding 20 pages).

2025-2026 Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowships for Doctoral Research

The Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowships are designed to help students build long-term capacity to address climate change-related issues in India and the U.S.

AwardEligibility Criteria
• The fellowship provides J-1 visa support, a monthly stipend, an Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges per U.S. Government guidelines, round trip economy class air travel, applicable allowances and modest affiliation fees, if any. 
• No allowances are provided for dependents.
• The grant may not be sufficient to support family members.
• The applicant should have done a reasonable study on their research objectives, especially in identifying resources in India and the U.S.
• Applicants must be registered for a Ph.D. at an Indian institution on or before November 1, 2023.
• On the online application form, one recommendation should be from the PhD supervisor emphasizing the applicant's research and need for the fellowship. It must also indicate the Ph.D. registration date and topic.
• The expected PhD thesis submission date and end date should be at least three months after the Fulbright-Kalam grant.
• Employed applicants must follow the instructions carefully regarding the employer's endorsement, and the employer must indicate that leave will be granted for the fellowship period.
• The applicant must upload a copy of the original published/ presented paper or extracts from the Master's/ M.Phil. thesis in the online application form (not exceeding 20 pages).

AAUW International Fellowships

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) offers international fellowships to women who aren't U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or those who intend to return to their home countries to become leaders in business, government, academia, and civil society. For this scholarship, the student showcases strong academic skills and a clear commitment to improving the lives of women and girls in their respective regions.

AwardAward ConditionsEligibility Criteria
Master's/first professional degree: $20,000
Doctoral: $25,000
Postdoctoral: $50,000
• Previous AAUW national fellowships or grant recipients are not eligible for this scholarship. It does not include branch or local awards or community action grants. 
• Applicants may not be eligible for this scholarship if they are on the AAUW board of directors, committees, panels, task forces, staff members, and interns.

The fellowship will not be provided for the following:

• Purchase of equipment
• Indirect cost
• Travel to or from a fellow's home country or research location
• Tuition for dependent's education
• Research Assistance
• Previous debt, loans and expenditure
• Institutional costs
• The student must not be a citizen of the USA.
• The applicant should have an excellent academic record. 
• The applicant must be proficient in the English language.
• Applicant must return to their home country after completing their degree. 
• The candidate must enrol in a full-time program to get the fellowship.
• Applicants can reapply if they fail at their first attempt.
• The applicant must have an academic degree equivalent to a USA bachelor's degree. They must've completed it within the application deadline.
• Applicants are allowed to apply for the fellowship for any year of their program; however, the applicant needs to be conducting a full year of study or research.

IBM PhD Fellowship Award Program

IBM's PhD Fellowship Award Program is widely known for supporting outstanding PhD students who showcase an interest in solving problems crucial for innovation. IBM selects the awardees based on their overall potential for research excellence and their degree of alignment with IBM's technical topics of interest. 

AwardAward ConditionsEligibility Criteria
• This fellowship provides $40,000 for universities in the United States.
• Recipients are also offered the chance to intern at an IBM research or development lab under the mentorship of an IBM scientist. 
• Applicants will not be eligible if they are from US-embargoed countries or have attended institutions in US-embargoed countries.
• Applicants receiving a comparable fellowship, internship, or support from another company or institution during the IBM PhD fellowship funding period are ineligible for this award.
• Applicants transferring departments or schools cannot apply for the award.

Applicants will be selected on:

• Their potential for research excellence. Candidates are advised to intern during the year of their award. 
• All the student visas must align with the terms of the internship. 
• The degree to which the nomineesʼ research aligns with IBM focus areas.
• Academic standing, publication, and endorsements from faculty advisors and department heads. 
• Applicants must not nominate themselves for the award; they must be nominated by a doctoral faculty member.
• Applicant must be enrolled full-time in a PhD program during the academic year of the award. Otherwise, they might have to forfeit the fellowship.
• At the time of nomination, the applicant should have two years remaining in their program to apply for the fellowship to the last year of study.

Kala Singh Memorial Scholarship

The Kala Singh Memorial Scholarship has been established to honour the memory of its namesake. This scholarship is designed to support Indian nationals enrolling in a PhD program in the United States. This scholarship is available for students with excellent academic track records who have already secured admission to a reputable American university. The candidates for this scholarship are evaluated based on the student's potential for leadership and their commitment to contribute to their studies.  This scholarship continues to represent a beacon of hope and advancement for Indian students aspiring to conduct cutting-edge research and development projects in their chosen academic fields. 

Eligibility Criteria

There are certain eligibility criteria that students must meet to receive this scholarship: 

• Applicants must have a graduate degree. 
• Applicants must be students pursuing study programs in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing. 
• Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time program to remain eligible for this scholarship. 
• Students must submit a letter of recommendation/ reference by the application deadline. 

Conclusion


Pursuing a PhD from a prestigious university in the USA guarantees a promising horizon for doctoral candidates. To help students overcome their financial constraints, students can choose from various scholarships to chase their dreams and study for the greater good of society. Students can leverage amazing scholarships like Aga Khan Foundation International Fellowships, Fulbright Student Program, Kala Singh Memorial Scholarship, AAUW International Fellowships, and IBM PhD Fellowship Award program for a bright future. These opportunities allow international students to gain top-quality education and tackle the world's most pressing challenges with their knowledge. Want more details and guidance? Contact Canam Consultants today!

FAQ

Financing is a major hurdle due to high tuition fees and living expenses. Additionally, obtaining visas, adapting to a new culture, and navigating unfamiliar academic systems can be challenging for a student wishing to pursue a PhD in the USA.
Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a PhD scholarship.
 
• The funding amount and whether it covers all of the student's needs. 
• Students must also assess the eligibility criteria carefully to ensure that they qualify. 
• Ensure the scholarship aligns with the chosen program and research interests. 
• Research the application process and deadlines.
Yes, it covers most expenses, including stipend for tuition, travel, and living.
Scholarships significantly reduce financial burden, allowing students to focus on their studies. They also open doors to top universities and research opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible.
Yes, students can reapply if they meet the eligibility criteria and address any shortcomings from their previous application.

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