Crowdfunding Your PhD?

fundzDoctoral work is a privilege. And PhD programs are saturated with people of privilege. Despite the increasing rate of student diversity (in all manners of the word), a vast majority of us PhDing come from relative degrees of privilege. It seems oxymoronic to consider oneself an underprivileged (and I’m writing largely in terms of SES) PhD student.

Because no one needs to have a PhD to survive in this world.

Yet, having no money is the crying call for us “struggling” grad students. Unless you have a cushy trust fund or won the lottery, grad life is a hard economic lifestyle regardless of marital or parental status, age, or other categories of “need” people foreground when trying to garner financial sympathy. (This is a phenomenon I’ll probably explore in a future post. I find it fascinating.)

So when I stumbled upon this article about crowd funding dissertations, I was intrigued. The author cites kickstarter’s less than 50% success rate, but that’s hardly grim compared to the odds of getting a major scholarship that can significantly alleviate financial burdens.

Another U.K. student wrote about crowd funding his doctoral studies (including course tuition). Both articles stress how challenging this path can be, which I don’t doubt.

It also seems like science or engineering projects with everyday application, or social philanthropic projects may be more appealing to potential supporters. I don’t know how humanities dissertations would fair considering how they lean toward abstract theoretical conceptions, which can be esoteric.

Could this strategy actually work? Are students heading in this direction?


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