One Thing You Can Do to Maximize Your Chance to Get Paid For Graduate Schools

And it can be quite fun!

Mark Chu
5 min readApr 3, 2021


Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Graduate schools are expensive. According to this article in U.S. News, a two-year full-time graduate program can cost $100,000; more if you’re thinking about a Ph.D. Unless you have a rich dad or uncle, pursuing a graduate degree either is only a dream or leaves you in serious debt that you might not be able to pay off.

Assuming you’ve calculated and thought through the whole thing, and you’ve come to the conclusion that a graduate degree is your ultimate goal. Now, how can you pay for it?

Before considering the dirty word “loan,” there are a few potential options. In another U.S. News article, they list some potential ways such as finding money from scholarship search engines, considering free graduate schools (okay, I have to say this is a bit of a stretch in my opinion; yes, there ARE free grad schools, but there aren’t many of them and NOT that easy to get in), grants, fellowships, assistantships, and so on. To me, however, assistantships are more realistic and achievable.

I’ve shared my story about how assistantships have paid my wife and me Ph.D.s., now I’ll share one crucial thing you can do to maximize your chance to get paid. Keyword: research, as long as you’re pursuing a graduate degree in natural or social sciences.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

But an important reminder: you should have the right attitude.

When my wife and I were undergrads (we met in college) majoring in psychology, we took this Research Methods class and worked on our research projects individually. The faculty encouraged us to work hard and then submit the work to a national conference. If accepted, we could go to the conference and present our findings, and everything from the plane ticket, lodging, to meals, would all be paid for by the school. Such a great deal: going to a big, new city and play for free!? Sign me in! Plus, it’d look good on the resume.

However, in the beginning I’ve got it all wrong: for some reason, I thought my professor would do everything for me. Long story…



Mark Chu

I’m a professor of psychology at a small university in southern New Mexico. I like playing musical instruments, basketball, and writing stories.