This is a question branching off of this one. I would like to judge how common it is for universities to give course reductions for service on dissertation committees.

Two questions:

  1. Does your university offer such reductions for the advisor, readers, examiners?
  2. How generous is the reduction? (1/3 of a course, 1/4 of a course, etc.)

Please include your discipline and location in the reply so we can get a more robust picture.

For instance: USA, Philosophy, 1/2 course for the dissertation advisor, 1/3 course for the readers, 0 for the examiners.

  • I'm not aware of any such reductions. Can you add your experience to the question (or indicate that your for-instance is an actual example)?
    – Bill Barth
    Apr 28, 2014 at 18:11
  • I believe that my example above is correct for my university. I don't have a copy of the faculty handbook handy though, so I won't hold my hand in the fire for those numbers.
    – user10636
    Apr 28, 2014 at 18:17
  • 5
    As of now, it is a polling question (and such questions are discouraged on SE sites). Please, fix it. Apr 28, 2014 at 18:54
  • 2
    I have to agree with @PiotrMigdal, this is exclusively a polling question and not appropriate for this site. Can you modify the question to be more focused?
    – eykanal
    Apr 28, 2014 at 18:58
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    What's the reason for asking the question in the first place? Is there anything beyond just getting the data that you're hoping to learn?
    – aeismail
    Apr 28, 2014 at 19:47

3 Answers 3


In mathematics in Minnesota, the advisor gets a half-course reduction, and committee members no reduction.

Thus, some years ago, when I taught a crypto class and a coding class that were popular with some engineering dept grad students, and I found myself being asked to be on about 250 Master's and PhD committees within a few years, it was a task that was not literally directly compensated-for, despite consuming significant time. But I figured it was part of my service duty. I allocated an hour or two prior to the actual presentation to review the document, and the presentation itself would take an hour or two.

(My chief benefit was amusement with some of my "colleagues" who apparently thought I was grossly exaggerating, since "obviously no one would agree to being on so many committees"...)

  • I was interested to read that the advisor gets a half-course reduction (presumably during the semester of the thesis defense only?). In my department there are absolutely no teaching breaks for advising of any kind, and I do feel like this serves as (i) a disincentive for many faculty to take students and (ii) a source of resentment for many faculty who take multiple students, get absolutely no formal benefit from it, and hear talk of "everyone doing their duty" for much more mundane and quick things like undergraduate advising. Do you happen to know if your system is common? Apr 29, 2014 at 16:13
  • @PeteL.Clark, the "reward" goes into a bank of "teaching credits" which can be spent at the discretion of the faculty advisor. No, I don't think this is very common, and, in fact, I don't know of any other place that does this. It doesn't seem to provide sufficient incentive for many faculty to have any students at all, but it's a nice token for those of us who do, while being small enough to avoid accusations (ridiculous as they'd be) that one might have lots of students just to avoid teaching... :) Apr 29, 2014 at 17:04
  • In my department (mathematics at the University of Michigan), there is no direct compensation for thesis advising. It can be taken into account, along with all one's other work, when salaries are set, but having one more student won't make much difference there. Oct 24, 2014 at 19:51

Does your university offer such reductions for the advisor, readers, examiners?

NO. Advising students and serving on dissertation committees is a normal and expected duty of all faculty members at my university.

  • I would interpret the policy from a different perspective. It is a normal and expected duty and if you don't we're going to penalize you with other work.
    – Ben Voigt
    Apr 28, 2014 at 23:28
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    No, I've never seen that happen, either.
    – JeffE
    Apr 29, 2014 at 0:35

In Sweden, main advisors may get symbolic compensation, in my department 3% time, co-advisors receive 1%. If you serve on an examination committee you do not receive any compensation by either your own department or the department where the defending PhD student resides. At a public defence there is an official examiner, referred to as "opponent". this person typically receives about USD 1000 for the task which includes a 1 + hour public discussion of the work.

In short, none of very little compensation is given to anyone involved with the study and defence of a PhD student. For the PhD defence, all costs involved for travel and housing is of course covered.