I am currently searching for a master and then a PhD in Finance/Quantitative Finance. Since I have a certificate in German Language, I could choose German-speaking countries (Switzerland, Germany, and Austria) since their master programms have low fees and PhD students get paied in contrast with other countries as UK,etc.

My question is about pursuing a PhD and whether I could enhance my income by providing teaching assistance in the University. In these countries, are classes based explicitly on German or English? Moreover, do these countries offer a salary for a PhD student, or is the cost of living prohibitive?

  • This question is dangerously looking like a 'shopping question'... As for the teaching language, this information is probably available on University website.
    – Emilie
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 12:59
  • 1
    Not sure how the two are related. You are looking for a master's programme but you ask information about a PhD? Commented May 29, 2018 at 16:07
  • @BramVanroy I am greek and studying abroad has a great cost of living, so before choosing a master, I have to check the long-run cost of living/opportunies etc. S
    – AlexB
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 16:45
  • So you are not looking for a PhD position but to enroll in a Masters program. That is a huge difference. Commented May 29, 2018 at 20:14
  • 1
    Please edit your question to focus either on a masters or a phd position. As written it conflates both which is confusing.
    – user9482
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 6:14

3 Answers 3


I can only speak for Germany:

Teaching is done by professors. Sometimes they delegate certain courses to assistants (not TAs, usually PhD candidates or post-docs), but this is still counted as "teaching" by the professor (there are legal issues involved which I don't want to adress here, but this is the common practice). As a consequence, the assistant gains teaching experience (which is good and might help in further career steps!), but there is no additional financial compensation.

Usually, PhD candidates are hired for certain research projects or they are assigned to graduate schools, in both cases there is a salary / scholarship financing your work. In my discipline (computer science), this is less then a job in industry, but it's not bad (you might want to look up TVL-13 here). It depends on the culture of your discipline if you are getting a full salary or just 50% (in biology I heard there are people getting even only 25%).

In addition, universities might hire external visiting lecturers who are recieving up to 55€/hour, but at my university we were forced to lower the rate to 35€/hour (teaching hour = 45 min.). But usually those people have to be external, you can not be employed by the university and get this salary on top.

But in short: If you are getting a position in a funded project, funding your costs of living is not an issue.

BTW: Teaching can be done in German or English, depending on your University and course level.


In my (German) department you are typically either part time employed on a certain project, and in your free time you are expected to write your dissertation. In that you typically don't teach. It is efficient if you write your dissertation on a similar topic as the project. Alternatively some professors have positions available for "generic" PhD students (also part-time). Those are typically required to teach, but have less project work to worry about.

The PhD students typically cannot supplement their income by teaching courses.


Here in Austria in the STEM fields you are usually employed with a full time salary of ~2600€ (40 h/week, 14 times a year, ~25 000 after tax) but depending on your department or position you might only be employed for 20-40h. Very common are 25 or 30 h per week which comes down to > 18 000€ a year after tax, usually enough to cover cost of living. There's also no tuition fee for PhD studies, not sure why you mention Masters here.

You usually don't get paid extra for teaching (there are some contracts where you would but those are rather special cases). You need to teach if you got a university position (Universitätsassistent), for project positions (Projektassistent) you are allowed to teach a certain amount.

Depending on your university and studies you might need to etach in german but in some cases knowing only english is fine too.

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