What are the do and do nots with regards to sexual relations between a professor and graduate student?

As long as they aren't your advisor or on your committee is it considered OK?

How does this work?

  • 1
    Dangerous, in many ways, and in any case. Aug 29, 2020 at 21:38
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    They’re your colleague. You expose yourself to MANY problems by engaging in conduct this way. Particularly if you come from the U.S, Title 9 can crush you. Aug 29, 2020 at 21:43
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    I looked at my university website and it doesn't indicate that's in any violation of university policy so long as nothing is coerced. Aug 29, 2020 at 22:09
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    Looking more closely, as long as the professor isn't in a supervisory role it's considered OK. Aug 29, 2020 at 22:20
  • 2
    How can someone working on a joint project not be related to your work?
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 31, 2020 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


I’ll address you as the graduate student based on the phrasing of the question, hope I’m not being too presumptuous.

In the US, the professor can’t be your advisor if sexual or romantic relations are taking place. They can’t be on your thesis committee. They can’t be teaching a class you’re taking, can’t be supervising you as a TA, can’t be writing you a letter of recommendation, can’t be in any position of authority over you whatsoever, during the relationship and most probably at any time in the future. If none of those things are an issue and you’re a consenting adult, and barring any specific institutional policy to the contrary, you’re in the clear and are free to behave in any way that any other adult is allowed to.

Keep in mind some people in academia would still feel uncomfortable with the situation and may be critical towards you and/or the professor if they become aware of the relationship. Depending on the details, your and the professor’s professional reputation and career may be at some risk. Sex tends to make people uncomfortable, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not.

  • Some places have much stricter rules than this. Aug 30, 2020 at 2:02
  • @AnonymousPhysicist that wouldn’t be inconsistent with what I wrote. I’d still like to see examples supporting your claim. And note that it would be very problematic (and potentially legally questionable) for a university to arbitrarily restrict its graduate students’ right to date people of their choice, including from the campus community - any restrictions of this type will have to have some rational basis, and with the lack of a supervisory role or other type of authority differential, I don’t quite see what that basis would be, except perhaps at a private religious institution.
    – Dan Romik
    Aug 30, 2020 at 2:09
  • Since this is a duplicate, I do not see a need for further discussion here. academia.stackexchange.com/questions/3142/… Aug 30, 2020 at 2:22
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    @AnonymousPhysicist thanks for the link. Yes, I think there are other existing questions discussing related things. And yet the post you linked does not support your claim about places with “much stricter rules”. I imagine readers here will accordingly treat your claim with a measure of skepticism.
    – Dan Romik
    Aug 30, 2020 at 2:29
  • @DanRominick "the post you linked does not support your claim" False. Let's not discuss further. Aug 30, 2020 at 6:18

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