I have seen some graduate (PhD and Masters) students in Turkey, Nigeria, Malaysia etc that can not work in the university they study. In fact I am one of them as I am about to finish Msc mathematics and computer science in Turkey and planning to start PhD in USA. My question is, is it a policy of most universities in the world that post graduate students can not work in the institution they are studying and earn their living? Even to work as graduate assistant perhaps.

  • See also academia.stackexchange.com/q/8618/4394 Apr 5, 2013 at 9:38
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    When you say "can not work", do you mean it's forbidden by the university's rules, or is it just that it happens there is no job available? Do some students actually work?
    – user102
    Apr 5, 2013 at 10:08

2 Answers 2



In North America, at least in science and engineering, PhD students are generally expected to work for their host universities as either teaching assistants or research assistants, except for the relative few who win full-ride fellowships. This expectation is strong enough that it is considered foolish to accept an offer of admission to any PhD program without a simultaneous offer of a fellowship or assistantship. Sometimes these assistantships are also available to Master's students.

  • +1 same here in the Netherlands. Although in the exact sciences almost all PhD's get paid a normal salary, but are expected to help out as TA's a certain amount of their time (10-20%). Apr 5, 2013 at 12:01
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    Of course for those who are on full-ride fellowships, sometimes taking the fellowship includes accepting a restriction not to take other employment. This is often an across-the-board provision, but would be most obvious if you tried to get a job with the instruction imposing that restriction.
    – Daniel L
    Apr 27, 2015 at 14:24

Degree programs need to produce a whole lot more graduates than instructors in order for the programs to be economically viable. Student to staff numbers of around 15-1 are not uncommon. If the average staff member works for 30 years, this then becomes 450-1. In other words, for every 450 students that graduate one position becomes available. Even in the "best" situation of a 5-1 student to graduate assistant ratio and a 2 year average "career", you are talking about 10%.

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    I don't see how this answers the question.
    – JeffE
    Apr 5, 2013 at 11:46
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    @JeffE I interpreted the question as "after you finish your degree why aren't you guaranteed a job in your former department". Maybe I got it wrong.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 5, 2013 at 11:59
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    +1 for shedding pragmatic light. Of course, the quality of your work has something to do with it too.
    – bobobobo
    Apr 5, 2013 at 16:58
  • I get it now. So with all these answers, it means I can work as a PhD student and thereby gaining experience plus salary in most universities in USA, though I have not chosen the university to study yet. Thanks.
    – YYG
    Apr 5, 2013 at 17:14

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