The ranking is based on user-submitted or estimated information, which (like other rankings) may be subjective, inaccurate, or out-of-date, despite the best efforts of its volunteers to ensure accuracy. Depending on your personal situation, your actual income or living costs may vary.
Our current definition of majority is at least 80% of enrolled PhD students. In the case of summer funding, it means 80% of students that stay in the department during the summer performing research or teaching duties.
First, users submit a stipend that most people around them receive, and we will use
this number as the number for the "majority". Then, if anyone believes that the number does not match
their experience (i.e., most people they know receive less than that number), we will create a survey
and put it on the website. We will ask students in the department to fill the survey, and calculate
the "majority" stipends based on the survey result. If the numbers from different sources show
fundamental differences, we will temporarily remove the department from the ranking during the survey.
In addition, departments may also choose to submit official figures, which we will present on the website.
We choose to do so for two reasons:
We believe that asking people to do a PhD without providing financial supports (e.g., tuition waiver and stipend) is not moral. Therefore, we will add such label to any department if anyone can demonstrate such department does not guarantee financial support for at least a subset of their PhD students. This label will be kept until the department proves such support is guaranteed (i.e., via an official letter with department letterhead and signatures).
We have received a lot of comments that the living cost calculated by the MIT Living Cost Calculator does not really reflect the real living cost in multiple areas. We are considering alternative metrics and data sources. If you are aware of something we can use, please feel free to submit issues or pull requests on GitHub. We are also aware that while the MIT Living Wage Calculator is useful for comparing costs of living across the country, it has its limitations. There are two issues flagged by our users:
Many universities provide department-paid health insurance. Hence, we include any out-of-pocket costs as part of fees to make a fair comparison.
The number is based on (1) funding guarantees and (2) what the majority of students get. The 40h/week summer funding is either not guaranteed, or not the most common case in your department.
Please open an issue. We will create a questionnaire to collect data, and you will be asked to forward it to students in your department. We will update the number after we collect enough responses and make the redacted raw data available.
We have a list of items that we plan to prioritize in our efforts to improve this website. All contributions are welcomed. Please leave us a message if you want to implement one of these features. The following is the ranked order of importance:
We believe issues and comments should be discussed and resolved publicly on GitHub for transparency. If you believe any data is inaccurate or have additional comments, please open an issue or a pull request. The maintainers will not respond to private messages sent to their personal or university accounts regarding this website.
In most cases, this is because only the semester stipends are verified, and summer stipends are not guaranteed. You will need to verify the summer stipend seperately.
This is because we don't know whether summer funding is guaranteed or the exact amount of summer funding in the department. Please submit a pull request or open an issue if you have access to more accurate information.