The Best Gifts for PhD Students [PhD Graduation Gifts 2023]

A Ph.D. is the highest academic degree a person can achieve Completing it takes a lot of hard work, persistence, and hustle. The thing is that people who graduate with a Ph.D. often feel a sense of incompleteness when they graduate. 

I know I did! I felt like finishing my PhD was a bit of an anticlimactic experience. 

So, spending a bit of time celebrating with a recent PhD graduate will help them feel a sense of completion and mark the end of something really worthwhile. 

If you are shopping for a great gift for a Ph.D. graduate yet unsure what to get, read on. What are the best gifts for Ph.D. students’ graduation? Is it something reusable?

This article discusses the best gifts you can get for a Ph.D. graduate. We also discuss some common questions about gifts for Ph.D. graduates, such as budget and more gift ideas.

10 Best Graduation Gifts for a PhD student

Here are some of the best PhD student gifts you can buy someone who is currently studying for their PhD or has graduated. We look beyond the typical headphones, mugs, and other gifts you may get recommended on other blogs. 

These recommendations come from my experience with graduating with my PhD myself and what I would have loved to receive.

A new experience – the best PhD graduation gifts EVER!

When someone graduates with a PhD the best gift you can give someone is the opportunity to experience something new. 

It is a great way to refresh your life, do something fun and create memories with loved ones.

Personally, it is my go-to option for any life milestone. I once read that, often, people prefer experiences rather than “things” once they get older. 

There are a number of great vouchers for new experiences and some of my favorites include:

  1. Virgin Experience Gifts: Offers a range of handpicked experiences with flexible policies and no expiration dates. They offer 30-day returns or free exchanges for any other experience in their marketplace​​.
  2. Experience Gifts: Offers a wide variety of experiences, including airborne activities such as hot air balloon rides, flying lessons, and paragliding, as well as driving experiences​.
  3. Gifting Owl: Provides over 12,000 global experiences with a 3-year validity. Gift vouchers are exchangeable, and they offer instant gift delivery. Some of their top experiences include a private photoshoot at Universal CityWalk Hollywood, a Hollywood Sign Hike with panoramic views, and a Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood​​.

Consider a new experience first before a gift like those listed below! Memories last a lifetime and are often more meaningful than anything else you can give someone. 

Academic Gifts for a PhD graduate – business card holders and more

These gifts are perfect for people who are entering another research-related work environment after their PhD. 

It could be in industry or in another academic position like a PostDoc or Research Fellow role. Here are some things that make academia for academics and scientists much better:

Logitech Spotlight Presentation Clicker

The Logitech Spotlight is not your usual presentation clicker; it does more than switch slides and laser-pointing. 

With the Logitech Spotlight, you can highlight and magnify your screen, drawing better attention to your slides. It also comes with a cursor control system, allowing you to control your cursor just like a mouse.

Why A Ph.D. Graduate Will Like This: A Ph.D. graduate will often enter academia or work in the industry after graduation. This means they may be presenting a lot of presentations or lectures. A great clicker like this would make their work easier. 

The New Parker 51 Fountain Pen

When it comes to pens, many will immediately think of Parker. The New Parker 51 is a modern redesign of the original 1941 model, dubbed the ‘World’s Most Wanted Pen.’

The pen has a streamlined silhouette, and the cap is stainless steel with palladium finish trims. The pen clip is in the signature Parker arrow shape.

Why A Ph.D. Graduate Will Like This: A Ph.D. graduate will likely be in a position where they have to sign off on many things, such as documents, reports, and more. Being able to do it with a beautiful pen like a Parker 51 makes it perfect.

Vivo Sit-Stand Desk Riser 

The Vivo Sit-Stand Desk Riser allows you to change between sitting and standing desks throughout the day. 

The desk riser can handle up to 33 pounds (about 15kg), which means it can handle a laptop, mouse, coffee, and several books and work fine. It also has a large surface, covering 31.5 x 15.8 inches.

Why A Ph.D. Graduate Will Like This: A Ph.D. graduate will likely be on a desk job, where they may need to spend long hours reading and processing data and findings. They may find the option to change between sitting and standing while working a good idea.

Jack & Chris Leather Briefcase

This Jack & Chris leather briefcase fits a 15.6-inch laptop. It is 100% cowhide grain leather with an adjustable shoulder strap.

The briefcase also has many pockets to hold daily essentials, such as pens, wallets, phones, notebooks, etc. It also comes with a backside belt, so you can easily attach the briefcase to your suitcase.

Why A Ph.D. Graduate Will Like This: A Ph.D. graduate will likely start a new position in the university or the industry. What’s a better way to start a new job than to have a new briefcase to take to work?

Silly PhD completion gifts

Sometimes you just have to get something that says: “I’ve finished a PhD….” it big loud letters.

‘Phinished’ Ph.D. Graduation T-Shirt

This is a simple, regular T-shirt. The printing, however, is not. You get a wordplay, the words ‘finished’ and ‘Ph.D.’ put together to form the word ‘Finished.’ Perfect for a Ph.D. graduate.

The shirt comes in a wide selection of colors, including shades of blue, black, gray, and pink. 

Why A Ph.D. Graduate Will Like This: Who doesn’t like a new T-shirt. Sure they may not wear it every day but getting it signed by the people who make their PhD possible will make it a great keepsake for years to come. The shirt is also a way to flex about having a Ph.D. without being too braggy. 

12.5 Oz Ph.D. Mug

This is a 12.5-ounce white ceramic mug. It can hold up to 400 ml of liquid, which is large enough for a canned drink. It should also take a tall-sized Starbucks beverage, which is about 354ml in volume.

The large mug has a large C-shaped handle, making it easy to grip. It is also safe for microwaves and dishwashers.

Why Will A Ph.D. Graduate Like This: Which Ph.D. graduate does not like to flex their academic achievement occasionally? Plus, this mug is a cool way to tell people you are a Ph.D. without telling them. 

If in doubt, a gift card always works

If you are not sure about what to buy someone – I’ve found that it is always a great option to let them buy something for themselves. Sometimes the best graduation gifts for doctoral students is the ability to choose their own gift!

I’m not always a fan of buying stuff on Amazon but, as a gift card, it certainly provides one of the widest selections of products for anyone and any interest or desire!

Amazon Graduation Gift Card

Not sure what to give your Ph.D. graduate? Let them decide for themselves. Go ahead and pick up an Amazon graduation card. The card comes in a specialty gift box, perfect for a graduate. 

Load the gift card with any amount you desire, starting from $25. The maximum amount is $2,000. 

Why A Ph.D. Graduate Will Like This: Who does not like receiving the money to buy what they want? Plus, the Ph.D. graduate can use the funds to buy what they need.

Other appropriate gifts for Ph.D. graduation outside of graduation? Gift boxes and more.

When shopping for a gift for a Ph.D. grad outside of graduation, you can think of things related to their life after their Ph.D. You can also look for gifts that help them keep the Ph.D. memory. 

Some ideas include

  1. Artwork or Decor from This site offers unique, artist-created gifts ranging from pillows to stationary, ideal for personalizing a new office or home.
  2. Quality Water Bottle: A hydro flask can be a practical gift, ensuring the graduate stays hydrated during long research hours.
  3. Airbnb Gift Card: Offers the chance for a well-deserved break or travel opportunity post-Ph.D.
  4. Books: Works by Malcolm Gladwell or other thought-provoking authors can provide intellectual stimulation outside of their field of study.
  5. Quality Headphones: These can help with concentration in noisy environments, or provide a means of relaxation.
  6. Planner/Organizer: To help manage their post-Ph.D. life or new job responsibilities.
  7. Monthly Subscription Box: FabFitFun for women or Five Four Box for men can provide a monthly treat to look forward to. Others include:
    • My Coffee and Book: This is a subscription for coffee and book lovers. Each month, the subscriber will receive two new hardcover books in their favorite categories and 12 oz of whole or ground coffee​
    • Read, Relax and Recharge by Introverts Retreat: This subscription box includes a novel, sweet snack and beverage, an introvert-themed candle, bath salts, and soap.
    • Sketchbox: This box provides supplies, instructions, and inspiration for creating craft projects that produce outstanding works of art. Perfect for the artsy and crafty individuals.
    • ​Escape the Crate: An interactive game subscription where each box offers a new escape room challenge.

Please remember, personalization based on the recipient’s tastes can make any gift more special. It’s the perfect way to say well done. 

How Much Should You Spend on Gifts for PhD Students and Graduates?

How much you should spend on a Ph.D. gift can depend largely on your relationship with the graduate and your personal budget. As a guideline:

  1. Close family members and partners: You may consider spending between $100 – $200 on a gift. This could cover the cost of higher-end gifts like quality headphones, an Airbnb gift card, or a pricier piece from
  2. Friends or extended relatives: A budget of $50 – $100 would be appropriate. This could include items like quality water bottles, books, or a lower-cost subscription box.
  3. Colleagues or acquaintances: Around $20 – $50 might be suitable. This could afford a well-chosen book, a smaller decor item, or contribute towards a group gift.

Remember, it’s not about the price tag – thoughtful, personalized gifts often mean the most, regardless of cost.

Wrapping up – PhD Graduation Gifts

Celebrating a Ph.D. graduate’s achievement with a thoughtful gift is a great way to show your support.

This article shared a variety of unique gift ideas for Ph.D. students, with suggestions for every budget.

From providing new experiences through gift vouchers like those from Virgin Experience Gifts, Gifting Owl, or Experience Gifts, to practical academic gifts like a Logitech Spotlight Presentation Clicker or a Vivo Sit-Stand Desk Riser, these options make perfect gifts for doctoral graduates.

Silly and fun gifts like a ‘Phinished’ T-shirt or a Ph.D. mug can add a light-hearted touch. And, when in doubt, an Amazon gift card always works.

The recommended spending varies depending on your relationship with the graduate and personal budget, with the focus being on the thoughtfulness of the gift rather than the price. Remember, personalization can make any gift more special.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.