I found that

  1. some Ph.D. programs pay monthly salaries like real jobs (EUR2300/month for a period of 36 months): Medical University of Vienna, AT

  2. many pay minuscule monthly stipends like pocket money (PLN2600/month for the first two years, and PLN3600/month for the next two years): Jagellonian University, PL

Why is this difference? And, how can I distinguish between these Ph.D. programs?

In the second university, why should someone spend four years of his life surviving only on pocket money when they can earn more by enrolling in the first program? I.e., if the above programs want to attract students, why would someone apply for the second one? I mean, what would be their motivation?

  • Do you mean even within a particular country and field? Or are you asking why different fields and different countries handle this differently?
    – cag51
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:40
  • @cag51, I mean, in the EU; irrespective of field in STEM.
    – user366312
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:41
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    I can't quickly find the values you're referring to at those links. Can you quote or link to them? Apr 11, 2022 at 15:44
  • @AzorAhai-him-, plz give me a few minutes.
    – user366312
    Apr 11, 2022 at 15:45
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    It looks to me like the salary for #1 is 2800 Euros, though that figure is over a decade old. Assuming the 3600 PLN is correct, that's 772 Euros. Adjusting for the cost of living (~1.8x), the Austrian position pays about double the Polish position.
    – cag51
    Apr 12, 2022 at 2:02

2 Answers 2


While it is true that the two universities you cite are only 400 km apart, they are in different countries with different economic abilities and histories. As a consequence, things cost different amounts, education works differently, and there are many cultural differences as well -- in other words, one should surprised if salaries were the same, and indeed they are not in nearly every job one would consider, graduate student stipends included.

This is, in a sense, not so different from what you would expect the salary differences to be between, say, the University of California in San Diego (in the United States) and a university in Tijuana (in Mexico), or between Tel Aviv University (in Israel) and the University of Amman (in Jordan), or maybe between universities in Bangkok (Thailand) and Yangon (Burma). Rich and less rich countries quite often neighbor each other, and they will not be able to pay the same salaries.

  • 3
    Just for reference, average gross wage (according to wikipedia, data from 2020/2021) in Austria was €4540, while in Poland it was PLN 6644). Thus both universities offer almost precisely half of average wage in their countries.
    – Raddeo
    Apr 12, 2022 at 4:31

The EU is a diverse place. It is a monetary/economic, not a political, union. So, policies differ. You can't judge a program based on a single number in any case ("salary" in this case).

To distinguish between the programs you have to look at the bigger picture and do some research. Jagellonian, for example, is an excellent place, but the Polish economy in general is different from the Austrian one. There may be other financial issues distinguishing between places as well as between programs. There may be social programs outside the university that account for the difference.

A country (or an individual university) will try to set its policies in part to be attractive the the people it desires to hire and to teach. The policies will differ in many ways.

And, if you find, after some research, that the policies don't suit you, then you probably want to apply elsewhere.

I can't speak to the specifics between these two institutions, but if you do some research then you will probably get an idea of why they differ as they do.

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    I think nearly every European will object to the statement that the EU is not a political union :-) Apr 11, 2022 at 17:50
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    @WolfgangBangerth, why is that? Every country has maintained its own national government and sovereignty. They have separate votes at UN. Etc. Some of their problems, in fact, come from the lack of political union. Germany lording it over Greece a few years ago, for example. They speak with many voices, not one.
    – Buffy
    Apr 11, 2022 at 18:03
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    @Buffy The political integration of EU countries is far greater than among countries joined by more regular multilateral treaties. Whether you want to call that a political union or not is a matter of definition, but the EU is clearly more than an economic union. In fact, there is a specific term "supranational union" that was introduced to describe this situation.
    – Anyon
    Apr 11, 2022 at 23:13
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    @Buffy The United States also has different states that all have their respective state parliaments, laws, and governments. And, like the countries in the EU, they are bound together by a Constitution, which in the case of the EU happens to be a multinational treaty that lays out rights and restrictions on the member states. There is a European kind of Supreme Court (the European Court of Justice), and there is an executive (which in the US is called government with secretaries and in the case of the EU is called the European Commission with commissioners, both headed by a president). Apr 11, 2022 at 23:24
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    Separately, the European Union is definitely not a monetary union. Not all member states use the Euro, and there are countries outside the European Union who use it. EU and Euro are separate things. Apr 12, 2022 at 17:21

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