There is a similar question here as well as elsewhere.

However my situation is somewhat different, so please read for marking it as duplicate. The questions I've seen asked has been about giving a gift to a supervisor after completing your PhD, and whether that would be innapropriate before/after defending your thesis.

In my case, I had a lot of difficulty finding someone willing to support my application (as I'm doing it in a completely foreign country). I'm very grateful to my supervisor for being willing to take me on and supporting my application.

I was thinking of bringing him some chocolate from my country (which is very popular here and abroad) as a small thank you gift.

Would this be weird/inappropriate?

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    Chocolate is small enough not to be a problem, IMO. But in general, etiquette dictates that gifts should flow downwards in a hierarchy, not upwards (to avoid awkward situations that generate resentment).
    – nengel
    Dec 15, 2017 at 6:11
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    The occurrence of gift-giving is a cultural universal, but the details vary immensely. You'll get more useful answers if you say what culture(s) are in play. Dec 15, 2017 at 8:21
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    The university is in China @Peter_Taylor
    – Patty
    Dec 15, 2017 at 8:27
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    The best gift you can give your supervisor is being a good and successful PhD student. I would consider such a starting gift as unusual, to say the least. However, what might be more appropriate would be small samples of chocolate for all your new colleagues including your supervisor. They chocolate could be on your desk and you could invite everyone you get introduced to for some chocolate (and a nice chat). Edit: I'm not familar with Chinese customs.
    – Roland
    Dec 15, 2017 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


I guess this matter is related to the nationality of your supervisor and to the country you are going to work in.

In Europe, especially France where I'm doing my PhD it's somehow weird to give gifts to your supervisor, since they consider the help they are offering is a part of their job. Yet they understand that the people coming to work in Europe are of different cultural backgrounds.

An important note to add, the people like the cultural exchange, so if you are giving him a part of your culture it will be appreciated, I got used to getting them sweets from my home country and everyone like it.

My advice if you want to do that, try to give it to him when you are alone, doing that in front of others is weird.

And as we Lebanese say the act of kindness need no questioning.

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