butterfly heart necklace

Gifts for the Academic

Obtaining a doctoral degree takes years of work, so when someone is finished it's a time of celebration. With celebration often comes gifts. Over the years, I have seen some very thoughtful gifts for the newly degreed academic, so I figured I would share some ideas for those of you who have no idea what to get the academic. Thanks to Twitter and my daughter whose working on a PhD for also helping me brainstorm gift ideas.

Affordable Gifts

Assortment of Teas in a Tea Box and an Electric Kettle: Academics love to “spill the tea,” so help your academic out with a collection of special teas. An electric kettle heats the water to the perfect temperature in minutes.

Tea Set: A vintage tea set (matching or non-matching pieces) or a quirky set like this one from Calamityware is a fun and useful gift for the tea drinker.

Coffee (or Wine): Many academics love coffee, so a personal Keurig for their office or a monthly subscription to coffee is a nice gift–but so is wine.

Drink Carbonator: If your academic likes fizzy drinks, a drink carbonator is wonderful. The DrinkMate carbonates more than just water. I love my DrinkMate.

Personalized Coffee Mug, Tumbler, or Wine Tumbler: Ask your academic for a copy of an important publication of theirs. Scan the first page of the publication and have the portion with the title and academic's name printed on the mug or tumbler. Alternately, you could have something punny printed on the item (for example, “Phinally Phinished!” or “Trust me, I'm a doctor.”).

Personalized Scarf or Tote: If the coffee mug or tumbler is not your academic's style, then how about a scarf or tote with their dissertation printed on it?

Bookstore Gift Cards: After spending years likely only reading to learn, it is a special treat to go to a local, brick and mortar bookstore and choose books to read for pleasure.

Frixion Pens and Meeting Notebooks: Frixion pens are erasable, but they are not like the PaperMate erasable pens from the '80s. Frixion pens write smoothly, erase well, and don't leave ink all over your hands. Pair the pens with some nice meeting notebooks such as the Leuchtturm1917 or the Cambridge Limited Meeting Notebook, and your academic is ready for work. If your academic is a conservationist, the Rocketbook is a reusable notebook that is pretty cool.

Ring Light: If your academic will be teaching online or attending video-meetings, a ring light can help them look their best. 

Hand Cream: Choose an unscented or light, neutral scent because some people have sensitivities to strong smells. The hand cream comes in handy because the soap at the university strips the oil from skin.

Office Slippers: Academics spend a lot of time at the office, so a pair of comfortable office slippers can keep their feet feeling good and warm.

Bluetooth Speaker: A portable, bluetooth speaker can be used in the office for background music, before teaching class to get the students engaged, or when presenting. Smaller, rechargeable speakers are best so they are easily transported.

Something for Their Aching Back: Academics are writers, so sitting hunched over a keyboard takes its toll on the body. Posture correctors, lumbar pillows, or a massage (or series of massages!) help to alleviate the pain.

Anything with Snarky or Punny Sayings: You can get some ideas from PhDcomics.com or googling “PhD memes.” 


Less Affordable Gifts

Meal Subscription: If your academic is fortunate enough to get a faculty job, odds are the job is not local. A meal subscription allows the academic to settle in to their new community and job while also eating food cooked at home.

Mechanical Keyboard: Because academics are writers, having a keyboard that makes them want to write is certainly a gift. Mechanical keyboards have keys that feel like you are typing on an old typewriter–and they make the same noise. Check out the Rymek keyboards–they are beautiful.

Professional Bag or Luggage: A professional work bag, whether it's a messenger bag or backpack, is a useful gift that can be used for years. Suitcases with spinner wheels make it easier to pull. I especially like the Away Bigger Carry-On.

Jewelry: A special piece of jewelry that has symbolic meaning is something the academic can wear for years to remember you and the meaning. This was one of the gifts my family gave me when I graduated. Whenever I wear the necklace, I remember the symbolism of the piece.

Ring Wrap: If your academic bought a college class ring, a ring wrap of diamonds or other jewels can really make the ring stand out. Sometimes this addition to the class ring is called a ring guard.

Custom Framing: A custom frame for a diploma costs a few hundred dollars, and after graduate school, not everyone wants to or is able to spend that extra money for the framing. However, having the diploma framed allows the academic to display it in their office (or parents' house). A custom framing of other memorabilia (e.g., dissertation defense announcement, awards from college, title page of article published) from college is another good gift idea.

Regalia: Academic regalia is expensive and specific to the degree and university. You can contact the university bookstore to inquire about purchasing regalia. If your academic is fortunate enough to secure a faculty position, they likely will need regalia when they attend graduations at the university they will be employed.

Vacation: Who doesn't love a vacation? After the journey of the doctoral degree, rest and relaxation are needed.

Ph Done!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *