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How To Make Money In Grad School: 20 Genius Ideas

If you find yourself struggling financially while studying, this article will show you how to make money in grad school. 

Grad school is rewarding but it can be tough to make ends meet on a tiny stipend or scholarship that doesn’t pay your living expenses.

Add to that the fact that you don’t have a ton of time for part-time jobs and things can quickly become dicey. 

While working a part-time gig during college or university has always been a thing, it is much easier now that you can make money online with a side hustle or two. 

Read on for the best ideas for boosting your meager income while working as a grad student. 

how to make money in grad school

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How To Make Money In Grad School

First things first, are you allowed to make money in grad school?

Depending on your school and program, you might not be allowed to take any external jobs. 

Many PhD programs that pay you have a requirement where you’re not allowed to work another job so check your contract. 

But how are you supposed to survive on $10,000 or $30,000 a year, especially if you have a family to support. 

Make sure to check your contract.  Bear in mind there are often exceptions to the “no external jobs” and side hustles and online gigs are often ok. 

The other kind of exemption to the no external jobs rule is sometimes jobs that will further your career or that are beneficial for skills. 

Another group of students who cannot take on extra work while in grad school?

If you are on a visa such as F1, then you are limited to just the fellowship and you are not allowed to work elsewhere according to the rules for the visa.

So let’s leap into the types of jobs that many grad students can do in order to make some extra cash. 

RELATED POST: 10 Lucrative Side Hustles For College Students

15 Ways For Grad Students To Make Money

First of all, I will say that the best type of side hustle and the one least likely to ruffle feathers is one that ties in with your skills. 

For example, if you are studying computer science, can you work as a freelance web designer? 

If you can convert your skills into a tangible side hustle while you study, it can be added experience on your resume for when you start job hunting – a win-win. 

Here are my top picks for side hustles for grad students:

1. Tutoring

Tutoring is the number one way most grad students make money. Being a teaching assistant or tutoring  is vital to helping your CV. You want to be able to show you have the ability to teach as well as research.

You can easily find tutoring jobs on Craigslist and Facebook.

Many parents are anxious to help their high school students or undergrads pass their exams and are willing to pay you to help them in the evenings. 

2. Research assistant jobs related to your PhD work

If you can this kind of work it is the best because it will help to further your studies plus on campus work means no gas or transportation costs. 

Plus – most programs allow this kind of work. 

3. Substitute teaching

Substitute teaching through your local school district is a great option to make money on the side. 

In the US, mostly public schools require a 2-year college degree (or a certain number of credits) in order to sub. Because it’s subbing, you can pick up shifts when you want/can.

You can earn around $100 a day for substitute teaching. 

4. Sell Printables on Etsy

If you like working online, you can start your own Etsy shop for free and sell printable planners and other digital downloads for some good money. 

This is a nice side hustle that you can do whenever you fancy plus it can create a stream of passive income once you get going. 

Learn More: How To Start Your Own Etsy Printables Business

5. Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping won’t make you a millionaire but it can be a good option if you want to make some cash on the side without committing to a “real” job. 

The other bonus with mystery shopping is that you can often get paid to go to restaurants, hotels or even for buying groceries which can help to lower your living expenses. 

The downside is that you can’t control how much work is available at any given time so it is not a reliable source of income. 

If you want to learn more about mystery shopping, here are the best companies to sign up with. 

6. Uber/Door Dash/ Lyft/Postmates

If you car is in good enough shape, working as a driver or food delivery person can be a good way to make some extra cash on the side. 

This is another job where you can work as little or as much as you like making it great for grad students who need money. 

Make sure to do the math though, sometimes you don’t make enough money after fees and gas to make this worthwhile, especially if you live in a rural area with fewer opportunities. 

7. Dog Sitting

If you like dogs, this can be a great opportunity for you! You can get paid for walking dogs or for dog sitting at people’s homes while they are away.

To be a dog sitter you might need:

  • A background check
  • A business license
  • Insurance (in case there is damage to a owner’s property while you are sitting)
  • CPR and Doggy first aid

You can sign up for Rover.com for free and create a profile on the app to start looking for jobs. 

8. Graphic Design/ Web Design etc

This will depend on you own skill set but if you are studying in a field that lends itself to freelance work, make the most of it and get paid for your craft. 

Web designers can get paid $1000 or more for a simple WordPress site and graphic designers are often in high demand for logos and company branding. 

9. SAT Procter

Proctoring is very easy and the perfect job for a grad school student. 

It is typically a minimum wage gig, but you just have to sit there for 3-4 hours while the exam is on. 

This is an easy side gig if you can get it. You will normally be hired for by a test prep company (SAT, ACT, AP, GRE, MCAT).

Bear in mind that you will have to go through a training program so the earlier you apply, the better as the training and prep can be time-consuming at first. 

However, it is a really easy side job for grad students to do. 

You show up and do your thing for 3 hours and go home with a decent chunk of change! After you teach for a while, you can get in to tutoring as well. 

10. Sell stuff on eBay or OfferUp

If you have a lot of junk or collectables then start selling them for cash. That is one easy way to make some extra money fast. 

If you don’t have a lot of stuff to sell, how about getting into flea market flipping? This is when you buy stuff at yard sales or flea markets then sell them again for a profit. 

You can learn more about getting started and the kinds of things that sell here. 

11. Referee for sports 

You can work as a referee for recreational  sports such as soccer and make good money – plus it can be fun!

You would have to pay for a certificate (typically a one day course, your uniform and registration) but you can make that money back in your first weekend. 

Scheduling  for referring is normally done by an assignor but you can reject any assignments if they don’t fit in with your schedule.

12. Online Adult Work

I’m not talking about true x-rated stuff but the truth is, a lot of grad students make money working in the adult industry doing various online jobs. 

I even have a friend who is making $300 a week selling her used underwear online.

Or how about making $2000 a month for sexting through your phone. 

Here are some posts about the various types of work you can do:

Get Paid To Sext 

The Best Places To Sell Used Underwear 

How To Make Money On OnlyFans

13. Freelance Gigs Through Fiverr

You can find all kinds of work on Fiverr.

From translation to editing and voiceover work. The money isn’t usually amazing but it can be a really good way to earn some extra cash to pay the bills while you are in grad student. 

14. Teach English to students online

You typically only need an undergrad degree to teach adults and kids online. They are often from Japan, Korea and China so you will need to up early in the morning but can earn some nice money before the rest of the campus even starts their day. 

Pay starts at around $12 an hour and can quickly rise to $22 an hour with experience. The nice thing about this job is that you can work as much and as often as you want so you can fit it in with a busy grad student schedule. 

Click here to learn more about teaching English online and see who is hiring now. 

15. Surveys for cash

You won’t make a bunch of money filling out surveys for cash but you can earn around $25-50 a week in gift cards if you spend the time watching videos, doing surveys and playing games on your phone. 

My preferred survey is Swagbucks as they seem to be the easiest way to make money quickly. 

You can learn more about Swagbucks and get $5 for joining here. 

16. Technical Writer

Here’s how to make money in grad school and boost your resume. If you’re good at writing you can try getting freelance work as a technical writer for companies in your field of study.

It pays well ($100/hour) but is highly competitive so you need to get yourself on the radar of these companies.

Try writing technical blogs for places like PLoS Blogs or the equivalent in your field of research and cold call the marketing departments of companies with samples of your writing.

17. Refer Friends For Cash

This sounds silly but you can make hundreds of dollars a week just for promoting services and goods to other people – not scamming them but recommending things that you like. 

Check out this list for the highest paid referral programs to join. 

3 Extra Ways to Make Money As A PHD Student

If you are still wondering how to make money in grad school, here are 3 bonus options:

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How To Make Money In Grad School – Final Thoughts

It is not easy to make ends meet as a grad student but you can earn some extra cash if you explore your options and find something that works for you. 

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HOW TO MAKE MONEY IN GRAD SCHOOL