Working While In School

Whether you're an incoming undergrad or second year grad student, working while in school is a common co-curricular experience. Student employment looks different for everyone, and Duke as well as the surrounding area in Durham offer a variety of employment opportunities to consider

For many students at Duke, working while in school is a critical component of their college experience. Employment not only provides a much needed income stream and a means to potentially decrease student borrowing, but also a way to gain professional experience and build up a résumé before entering into the workforce.

Employment as a Duke student can take on many different forms. Whether its serving as a TA in a first year course or assisting a faculty member with their research, working while in school varies significantly person to person. Student employment at Duke also comes with unique considerations compared to other types of work. The number of hours your allowed to work, the wages you receive, and even where your paycheck comes from can be impacted by a number of student employment policies. 

Read more to learn about: 

  • Types of employment around campus 
  • Places to look for job opportunities 
  • Further information you should know working while in school

Across Duke's campus and in the neighboring community, there are several types of employment opportunities you may encounter: 

undergraduate student employment 

Work Study & Non-Work Study 

Many Duke undergrads first gain employment experience while in school through a program called Work Study. The program, which is a type of financial aid and facilitated by the Department of Education as well as Duke University, was created to help employ students in part-time work at their colleges and universities by allocating funds that can then be used by employers to pay students their wages. In short, the work study program provides students with a pool of funds to be used for potential earnings. 

At Duke, there are two types of Work Study that can be awarded during the financial aid process: 

  • Federal Work Study: Department of Education will allocate funds to cover up to 75% of the student's earned wages; student's employer is responsible for supplying remaining 25% of earnings 
  • Duke Work Study: Duke University's Financial Aid Office will allocate funds to cover up to 50% of the student's earned wages; student's employer is responsible for supplying covering remaining 50% of earnings 

Most undergraduate work study awards are comprised of $2,200 in funds. To learn more about the work study program, visit the Undergraduate Financial Aid website! 

Work study positions vary across campus, but some of the most common types of jobs offered throughout the school year include: 

  • Office Assistant 
  • Front Desk Attendant 
  • Research Assistant 
  • Teaching Assistant 
  • Tutor 
  • Communications/Content Creator

While Work Study is widely used throughout Duke, students who do not receive a work study award from the financial aid office, or for those that choose not to utilize the funds in their aid package, there are also Non-Work Study student employment opportunities. Non-Work Study positions can be found both on and off campus, and offer many of the same opportunities as work Study employment. However, there are important differences between these two types of employment positions: 

Work Study vs Non Work Study
 Work StudyNon-Work Study
Wage rate
  • Set by Duke, current minimum rate is $15
  • Varies; current minimum wage rate in NC is $7.25
Max. hours
  • 19.9 per week
  • Duke employment: 19.9 per week 
  • Other employment: N/A 
  • Primarily On-Campus; select few work-study employers are Non-Profit agencies based in the surrounding Durham area
  • Mix between On-Campus & Off-Campus
Working under 18?


Graduate student employment 

Work Study, Non-Work Study, & Assistantships 

Graduate Students at Duke have similar student employment opportunities as undergraduate students: 

  • Several programs at Duke offer Federal Work Study in their financial aid packages; awards typically range from $4,000-$6,000
  • Duke's pay rate for Graduate Students in the Work Study program ranges from $15-$22.50 depending on specialization of the position
  • Both Work Study & Non-Work Study positions are available on campus and in the community 
  • Certain positions on the Duke Student Employment site specify for Graduate Student Workers exclusively 

In addition to Work Study and Non-Work Study positions, certain Master's and PhD students will receive compensation for research or teaching assistantships as part of their studies at Duke. To learn more about the employment opportunities offered through various Graduate Research and Teaching Assistantships at Duke, please visit the Graduate School Financial Aid website.

Duke has multiple platforms to help you find employment on campus and in the community. The two most commonly used platforms to view available student positions are:

Additional ways students can find out about employment opportunities include: 

  • Office or Department websites (ie. Library, Duke Chapel, Duke Arts & Performance, etc.)
  • Check out research studies on DukeList to see if any are paying for participation!
  • Recommendation from faculty (ie. Teaching Assistantships): reach out to professors or TA’s to see if there are opportunities to work with them for research or in a lab.
  • Departmental email blasts and newsletters.
  • Becoming an RA can save money on housing and meal plan costs and provide a small stipend.
  • For those on financial aid, check with your counselor on how the RA compensation might impact your current awards.

As you reflect on student employment opportunities and working while at Duke, please consider the following: 

  • It is common for incoming undergrad students to express or demonstrate a level of hesitation when deciding whether or not to work during their first semester or year of school. Keep in mind, the number of working hours employers are looking for varies, with some jobs calling for as little as 4 hours per week. 
  • Job types also vary and some employment opportunities require more office or clerical work, while other require more technical skills, such as tasks required when conducting research or working in a lab. Students open to work but who have concerns about time management and balance during the semester may look to prioritize employment in relaxed environments or positions that require a less demanding skillset. 
  • Employment while in school can serve as a résumé-builder, especially for jobs that require more technical skills or are more closely aligned with future academic and professional endeavors. 
  • Historical research studies have shown that students working on-campus between 10-15 hours while in school tend to demonstrate similar if not better academic performance than non-working peers. These outcomes shift negatively as students work beyond 20 hours a week as well as when employment is based off-campus. More recent research findings have shown that individuals working while in school realize higher earnings post-college compared to peers who did not work. 

Additional Employment Resources

Duke Student Employment

Whether you are looking for a work-study job around Duke, a babysitting gig in a neighborhood nearby, or other student employment options, Duke's Student Employment platform has all of your student job opportunities in one convenient location.

Link to Duke Student Employment

Side Hustles & Alternative Employment

As a student, your daily schedule may not suit a traditional employment position. But that doesn't mean you have to rule out working while in school. Get creative with your work ideas and check out these possible side hustles! 

Link to Blog Post