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Do PhD Students Get Paid?

Starting your doctoral program brings with it plenty of exciting new questions. For instance, what classes will you take? What area of study will your dissertation focus on? What renowned faculty will you have the chance to work alongside? What fulfilling career will you pursue after graduation?

Another question you might be pondering: do PhD students get paid? The answer can look different depending on your unique financial situation, your school, and your chosen course of study. While PhD students generally don’t earn a traditional salary, there are a number of ways they may be able to financially sustain themselves while earning their degree, like pursuing paid fellowships, paid research opportunities, or part-time or freelance employment. 

Read on to learn the different ways you might earn money as a PhD candidate.

Teaching Assistantships

One of the most common ways that PhD students may be able to earn money while completing their degree is by working as a teaching assistant, or TA. Teaching assistants may be paid either through the Federal Work-Study program (as part of an overall financial aid package) or through institutional funds. 

Working as a teaching assistant can be an excellent way to get hands-on experience in the classroom, which may be helpful if you plan on going into the world of academia after graduation. As a teaching assistant, you’ll have the chance to work alongside experienced professors and deepen your own knowledge through pedagogy.

As a teaching assistant, your duties might include:1

  • Evaluating and grading papers and exams
  • Proctoring and observing exams
  • Leading seminars and discussions
  • Meeting with students after class hours for assistance
  • Assisting the professor with any administrative work or research related to the course

Paid Fieldwork or Research Fellowships

Many PhD programs require candidates to complete fieldwork or research as part of their coursework. Depending on what you’re studying, this could include:

  • Supervised work with clients in a clinical setting
  • Research in the field or in a laboratory
  • Archival work
  • Assistant work for professors or researchers 

Some of these programs can also be paid, but it’s important to keep in mind that these stipends are considered taxable income.

You can also look into applying to paid research fellowships. These fellowships can provide financial support while also encouraging PhD candidates to gain experience in underserved or understudied areas of research. For example, the American Psychological Association offers several different fellowships for doctoral candidates through its minority fellowship program, including:2

  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Doctoral Fellowship – A doctoral fellowship that focuses on culturally competent training in behavioral health services for minority populations.
  • Services for Transition Age Youth Fellowship – A doctoral fellowship that provides training in mental health services for ethnic youth between the ages of 16 and 25.
  • Leadership and Education Advancement Program for Diverse Scholars – A mentorship and development program that focuses on building research and leadership skills in early-career scientists.
  • Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship Program – A program aimed at increasing the number of minority mental health providers while also improving mental health care for racial and ethnic minorities with mental or substance abuse disorders.

Research fellowships or teaching assistantships are more than just a way to pursue earning extra income– they’re also a great opportunity for building connections and earning hands-on experience that may serve you well once you’ve begun your career.

Part-Time Work

While you most likely won’t have the time (or the mental energy) for a full-time job as a PhD student, you might be interested in pursuing part-time or freelance work that can more easily fit into your schedule.

When searching for a part-time job, it’s important to consider work that you can easily balance against your rigorous coursework and study schedule. It’s also important to make sure you can still reserve time for yourself to relax and recharge. 

Some examples of part-time or freelance jobs that might be a flexible fit for a PhD student’s busy lifestyle include:

  • Freelance writing or graphic design 
  • Driving for rideshare services, like Uber or Lyft
  • Bartending, waiting tables, or working as a barista
  • Private tutoring for in-demand areas, like SAT prep or language classes
  • Babysitting or nannying
  • Walking dogs or house sitting
  • On-campus positions, such as working as a library clerk
  • Remote positions, like data entry or customer service
  • Work that allows you to pursue an existing passion, like selling art on Etsy or teaching fitness classes

Earning Money as a PhD Student

While you might not be earning a traditional salary as a PhD student, there are still a number of avenues that you can pursue to earn money and gain new experiences. Whether you choose to spend time in the world of academia as a teaching assistant, in the laboratory during a research fellowship, or at a part-time job, there are options you can explore to supplement your income.

At Alliant International University, we understand that students are busy pursuing an income, as well as an education. That’s why we offer a number of flexible doctoral degree programs, so you can continue your education while maintaining your work schedule. If you’re interested in learning more, don’t wait—request information on Alliant’s programs today!


  1.  “Graduate Teaching Assistant Job Description, Salary | Resilient Educator.” ResilientEducator. 2020.…. Accessed January 30, 2022.
  2.  “Psychology Fellowships and Programs.” APA. 2021. Accessed January 30, 2022.
  3.  Sims, C., 2021. “My 11 part-time jobs made me a better PhD student.” Nature. January 13, 2021. Accessed January 30, 2022.

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