Do professors get paid for supervising PhD students / honours student's projects?

If so, typically how much?


10 Answers 10


In the US, supervising graduate students is generally considered part of the normal workload of a faculty member and there's no extra pay for doing this.

The number of students supervised is typically a factor in tenure, promotion, and pay raise evaluations. Not supervising enough graduate students can hurt your evaluations and might possibly result in your not getting tenure or promotion or a pay raise.

  • 12
    In some departments, supervision of graduate students counts towards teaching load (so that faculty who are supervising lots of graduate students can reduce their teaching load, while faculty who aren't supervising graduate students have to teach more classes.) Feb 27, 2015 at 15:47

Not in the UK. Supervision is usually a job requirement. It's also necessary to boost research output.

  • 9
    As to boosting research output, this depends on your field. In mathematics, conventional wisdom is that taking on grad students reduces your research output, and at least in the US, math departments often let faculty wait to take on grad students until they have tenure. Feb 27, 2015 at 15:39
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    Sorry! I forgot that the term "Professor" is used more generally in the US. In the UK it is specifically a tenured position.
    – rachaelbe
    Feb 27, 2015 at 15:40
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    @rachaelbe Technically, there hasn't been a tenure system in the UK since (as I recall) the 1980s. But, yes, a full professor in the UK definitely corresponds to somebody who would have tenure in the US. Feb 27, 2015 at 20:27
  • @rachaelbe I slightly disagree. When I was doing my masters (Funded) my supervisor told me that he takes a % of the funding for himself (10-15%) one of the reasons I did not want to continue my studies further with that particular institute
    – Phorce
    Feb 28, 2015 at 7:07
  • @rachaelbe: At least in some fields, the restriction to tenured positions is probably not necessary. After all, PhD candidates supervising Master and Bachelor students would be an analogous process to professors (tenured or non-tenured, I suppose) supervising PhD students, and in both cases, the supervision can lead to boosting research output. Feb 28, 2015 at 23:13

Although professors are not technically paid for this work in the US, in many cases they are effectively paid for doing so, particularly for Ph.D. students. This is because in many cases, the professor requires grants in order to be able to hire Ph.D. students to work for them, and those same grants pay for a portion of the professor's time, some of which is expected to be used for supervising the student. The accounting is often rather obscure, however...

  • however..... what?
    – CGCampbell
    Feb 27, 2015 at 17:53
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    @CGCampbell Move the "however" to the start of the sentence. Feb 27, 2015 at 20:28

In Germany, you may get a little personal bonus (on the order of 100 EUR), which does not flow into the research group budget, per bachelor's, master's or Ph.D. dissertation you supervised. The bonus is usually contingent on reviewing it on time after receiving the official version. This practice may vary from university to university.

  • Just to clarify, it sounds like you are talking about being a reviewer of a dissertation as opposed to being a supervisor? Feb 28, 2015 at 10:25
  • Is this related to the "W" pay scale for professors? It seems to be the only scheme that allows professors to get additional payment (as in the old "C" pay scale, salaries are fixed, and the "E" pay scale, which also some senior researchers get, also doesn't seem to allow additional payment).
    – DCTLib
    Feb 28, 2015 at 15:00
  • I think it really depends on your university. In my own experience: in my former university (Baden-Württemberg) I got a bonus of 500€/thesis, that did flow into my research budget. In my current university (Nordrhein-Westfalen) there is no such thing. Mar 2, 2015 at 9:14
  • @JeromyAnglim: to my knowledge, the bonus goes to the supervisor, who is always also a reviewer, and to get the bonus, the supervisor/reviewer needs to hand in his review within six weeks after the student handed in the thesis. No monetary bonus for the second reviewer. But as Delio writes, this very much depends on your university. Mar 2, 2015 at 15:55
  • @DCTLib: It does not seem to be common in any case, but I'd agree that this is more likely to happen under W-Besoldung. Although I don't know whether this kind of additional bonus is explicitly ruled out under C-Besoldung. Mar 2, 2015 at 15:57

Another answer from Germany: Supervising students (BSc, MSc or PhD) is part of the job. No extra salary in general but, as part of the usual negotiations, one may get a temporary raise for "outstanding efforts in supervision".

At my university supervision of students can cover some of your teaching load (e.g. supervising one BSc thesis in math is equivalent to 0.3 hours teaching per week, an MSc thesis is 0.6 hours per week, each thesis counts for the semester in which it is submitted, its capped at 1.8 hours if I remember correctly). However, supervising PhD students does not give anything since PhD students in Germany do not count as students and even teaching at a PhD level does not count for the teaching load.

  • I think you meant to write: PhD students do not count as students in Germany. (I can't edit it in, because edits must be at least 6 characters.) Feb 28, 2015 at 19:14

[As an external advisor,] I got paid for supervising a few masters & bachelors thesis. If I would be a professor or other direct employee of the university, then that would be included in the normal teaching duties for their usual salary, but external supervisors from other universities, research institutes or the industry, as well as external reviewers get separate compensation. The amounts aren't large though, if you put reasonable effort in it then it comes up to a rather tiny hourly rate.


At my university (in the United States), professors actually pay to supervise students, in the sense that money for their students' salaries comes out of their grants.

  • 8
    I think this is not the right way of seeing this. Isn't the grant money precisely reserved for this very purpose?
    – Dirk
    Feb 27, 2015 at 19:31
  • Actually, I thought about downvoting but did not do so.
    – Dirk
    Feb 27, 2015 at 20:21
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    @ChrisWhite Hmm, in Germany a PhD student costs more than an assistant professor (due to a different social security system), But probably I don't get the point. You acquire grants to pay people to do research.
    – Dirk
    Feb 27, 2015 at 22:02
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    I don't understand the downvotes. There is a real choice between using grant funding to pay for graduate students or for another purpose (like a postdoc). At least in my context (theoretical physics in the US), the size of an individual grant is essentially fixed--and never much larger than the cost of a postdoc--so this is a real issue.
    – Matt Reece
    Feb 28, 2015 at 3:46
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    But the questions clearly asks about the professor's salary. Your answer did not even touch that point. Feb 28, 2015 at 14:59

In the countries I know, professors are indeed paid to do that. They do not get any extra money per hour spent supervising students or anything like that but it's part of their regular duties, i.e. what they get a salary for in the first place.

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    Which are the countries you know? Feb 28, 2015 at 22:30

It depends on the work contract between the prof and the University, and in most cases is it highly private data. In the academical sphere I know, they have a base wage, and they get a minimal bonus for the similar things as per-student "services". The most part of their wage comes from the first, despite most of their work is highly student-specific.

I think, it differs highly on other parts of the world (probably even there is big difference between different Universities of the same city).


A grad student costs X dollars. This pays tuition, stipend benefits. The grad student eventually stops taking classes, the new cost of the student is X-T. (T is cost of tuition). Now if the professor still has X coming in (through grants and other funding sources) and the student only costs X-T, there is T left over that neither school nor student needs.

Source- Prof*** at Univeristy of ***

  • 1
    Well, except that all of that is already factored in to the X and T values. There is no free lunch. It costs Y dollars to run a university and that has to come from somewhere. Y is the figure that matters.
    – Buffy
    Apr 9, 2019 at 22:02
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    In my experience, students on research assistantships are typically required to register for credit hours of dissertation and the grant is charged accordingly, even after the student has stopped taking classes. Apr 10, 2019 at 3:38

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