Gifts for academics: Dissertation and thesis, tenure and promotion, and new job presents

Academia is full of big milestones: thesis and dissertation defenses, graduations, jobs and promotions. And yet those moments can feel a bit anticlimactic, especially when they’re happening over Zoom (ahem, see above)! It’s nice to celebrate the people around us and create some joy, so today I am rounding up some thoughtful gifts for new graduate students and professors, graduations, and promotions.

Custom gifts

I think gifts with people’s new titles/jobs are always appreciated and a great way to mark a graduation or promotion to tenure, etc. Here are some custom gifts I love:

A nameplate with their new title

A custom book stamp (this is my personal fave idea, my husband made me one and I love it to make sure my academic books get back to me!)

-A sassy mug for tenure, the PhD, and the master’s degree holder

Gifts for stress relief

Academia is also pretty stressful, and a thoughtful care package can go a long way for grad students in your life. Frankly, some of the biggest hits in my life have been Trader Joe’s gift cards/other office snacks, and massage and facial gift cards. My friends and I would just venmo each other with the message “order a pizza” for a while and that was also so nice.

Snack boxes

Face mask packs

Office swag

Another popular category is office decor! I think these are slightly more unusual graduation gift ideas, which is nice because they likely won’t get duplicates from this category. New graduate students and instructors alike need to move into their new offices and it’s nice to have some things to make it cozy. I suggest:

dried flowers and a pretty vase

-an office plant

cute framed art

You’re adulting now gifts

Hah, I don’t know what to call this category, but for recent graduates, it’s nice to have a few upgrades before starting a new job. May I recommend…

A watch. So nice when you’re teaching OR in an office not to check your phone for the time.

-An upgraded work bag (this is my ~$300 pick or my ~$100 pick)

-Small bling, like everyday earrings or a necklace. This is what my mom has done for my graduations and I wear her gifts so often at work!

-An air fryer or month of dinners. Starting work is hard. These have been my favorite ways to make feeding myself slightly easier!

Just nerdy

This is just funny and nerdy stuff I’ve seen my colleagues have and love:

Data jokes pin (also love the social scientist one!)

This is fine dog (this always got a bunch of comments around our department)

Graduation pillow

Let me know if you’ve seen any other great academic gift ideas!

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