This article is published in the June 2023 issue.

CERP Infographic: A third of Doctoral Students Find it Somewhat or Very Difficult to Cover their Basic Expenses with their Stipends

By Burçin Campbell, Director of Data and Evaluation

Financial stability is one factor that may have an impact on individuals’ consideration of a graduate degree. Especially in the field of computing, students typically have an array of job opportunities in the industry upon completing their undergraduate degree. Dedicating the necessary time and attention to the full-time doctoral degree program leaves little to no room for employment resulting in graduate stipends as the major (and only) source of income for most graduate students.

This graphic shows that a third of doctoral students who responded to the Data Buddies Survey (DBS) reported that they find it somewhat or very difficult to cover their basic expenses with their stipends. The graphic also shows the breakdown of the students’ responses by the number of jobs they had after completing their undergraduate degree and before starting graduate school.

Bar chart showing survey responses.

Further analyses examining students’ background characteristics and career plans may shed light into the impact of graduate stipends on different types of students. Deidentified DBS data is available for download on CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline’s website.


  • Data presented here are for graduate students enrolled in a doctoral degree program in computing (n = 1,296) and who responded to the questions “How difficult or easy is it to cover your basic expenses with your current stipend(s)? and “How many jobs did you have after you graduated from your undergraduate studies, but before you began your graduate studies?” (n = 979).


This analysis is brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. Subscribe to the CERP newsletter. Check out CERP’s activities and find out how to engage on CERP’s website.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number (DUE 1821136). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.