Is being employed by a university during a PhD tied to receiving a salary/stipend/scholarship? Or am I considered an employee until I am awarded the PhD degree?

Because for the state I am considered unemployed, however I have finished my thesis but I am waiting for the PhD defense, so I think technically I am still considered affiliated with the University. I need to know this because I am filling paperwork for another job, and they want to know if I am currently employed or not. It seems a gray area situation.

  • 2
    If you are employed by the university, don't you have a contract? Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 12:12
  • 1
    Following from @MichaelBlondin, answers (to the first two questions) will surely depend on that contract and any local employment laws. But your first two questions don't really seem to be what you actually want to know, you surely just need to know what to write on the job application. Just list yourself as afilliated with the university, you are surely still enrolled as student, so that seems fine. (You may want to edit to add a third question at the end.)
    – user2768
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 12:20
  • If you were employed you wouldn't have any doubts. An employee is paid and has job duties as detailed in their contract.
    – user9482
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 12:55
  • 4
    This is strongly dependent on the country and the university. It may even differ per individual. Only your university can answer this question.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 14:09
  • @MichaelBlondin: Not in the US.
    – aeismail
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


In the UK, PhD students are not considered employees of the university at any point, before or after submission of thesis or expiration of funding.

  • They are nonetheless affiliated with their university.
    – user2768
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 13:48

I would say that if you were asked if you were still a PhD student, the answer is yes. However, the question of employment should hinge on payment. If you’re not receiving any money from the school, then you are not employed by them. (Moreover, if you are officially recognized as unemployed, that should already be a bit of a clue as to what you should say to a potential employer.)

  • Yes and no, it's a very grey area, because I still have a university email, and access to VPN. Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 20:28

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