5 Ways PhD Students Can Earn Money while Studying

Most grad students face this dilemma at one point or another: the stipend they receive (if they receive one at all) just isn’t enough to get by. You generally don’t have a lot of time to contribute to an outside job but you need the money, so it’s key to find one with the highest possible hourly rate.

Here are a few of the most popular part time jobs for grad students:

Bartending/Wait Staff

You can make a good hourly wage bartending and serving, especially if you’re a people person. And, the hours can be flexible—days or evenings—around a crazy grad student schedule. Even if you’ve never done this before, many places will still hire you. And when it’s slow, you can catch up on your reading or have a co-worker run through your oral exam flashcards with you.


Find a moderately wealthy neighborhood, especially one where many children go to a private school, and put up posters in the local café advertising tutoring by a PhD student. Families will often pay upwards of $50 an hour for you to help junior with his 7th grade math homework.

Freelance Writing

Especially for grad students in the humanities, finding work as a freelance writer can be easy and can afford you a decent hourly rate. Look online at websites that provide you such opportunities.

Related: Are you a PhD student looking for work? Check out these “earn while you learn” options!

Freelance Textbook Editing

Many textbook publishing companies use “subject-matter experts” to help them write their textbooks. You are a subject matter expert! Ask around and see if any of your colleagues have done this work. If not, the next time you’re at a conference, find a few of the major textbook publishers in your field and ask them about contract work.

Teach a Class at a Local Library or Community College

Look in your area for local libraries and community colleges that offer courses. What can you teach that these places might want to offer their students? Your courses can often resemble a 100-level intro college class, so this is good experience.

While there are plenty of other jobs you can do—babysitting, errand running service, coaching, or substitute teaching at a local school. These jobs are few that will get you the best pay per hour, at least in the United States. Other ideas? Leave a comment and share the wealth!

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