Gift Guide for Professors, Researchers, and Grad Students 2021

What are the best gifts for academics in 2021? Here are my top picks for professors, researchers, and grad students like you. I hope these gift ideas inspire you.

As with last year’s guides for professors and grad students, these are not affiliate links. Get my top recommendations for professional development and wellbeing for academics free from sponsors or paid partnerships.

Categories for gifts in this guide include

A map of readers of The Social Academic blog from January to December 2021. The map shows many countries (over 161 countries) are colored in various shades of blue to represent readers. The darker the shade of blue, the more readers from that country.
Map of readers of The Social Academic blog in 2021

Thanks so much for reading The Social Academic blog. Readers from 161 countries around the world took time to read articles and interviews this year. I am so grateful for you.

-Jennifer van Alstyne

Subscribe to The Social Academic blog.

Here are 26 gift ideas to inspire you

A graphic for the 2021 gift guide on The Social Academic. Background: a photo of a stack of 3 wrapped presents with red and white twine tied in a bow next to a small bunch of evergreen branches and a pair of scissors.
  1. Fail Proof Slide Design masterclass from Echo Rivera, PhD
  2. How to Design an Award-Winning Scientific Poster course from Tullio Rossi, PhD
  3. Teach the Geek to Speak Society with Neil Thompson
  4. Kickstart Your Journal Article course with Lisa Munro, PhD
  5. The Researchers’ Writing Academy course on scientific writing with Anna Clemens, PhD
  6. Teaching College Ultimate Bundle Access from Norman Eng, EdD
  7. Lecture Breakers Conference (virtual) with Barbi Honeycutt, PhD
  8. Power Your Research course from Sheena Howard, PhD
  9. LinkedIn Profile course for Professors and Researchers from Jennifer van Alstyne
  10. The Connected Exec Course for Higher Education leaders from Josie Ahlquist, PhD
  11. Art of The Academic Cover Letter course from Karen Kelsky, PhD
  12. The PhD Career Clarity Program from Jennifer Polk, PhD
  13. 1:1 or Group Coaching to help you build a business with Cheryl Lau
  14. New Year New Moon Goal Setting Retreat with Katy Peplin, PhD
  15. Free: The Grad School Success Summit 2021 replays
  16. Sabbatical: A Low-Stress Coloring Book for Academics by Monica F. Cox, PhD
  17. 52 Ways to Stay Well Set: Book and Planner from Hugh Kearns, PhD
  18. Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship and How to See Past Them by Gary Lewandowski Jr., PhD
  19. The Power of Procrastination by Jorge Cham, PhD of PhD Comics
  20. Bad Habits by Amy Gentry, PhD
  21. The PhD Balance Community
  22. The Personal Finance for PhDs Community from Emily Roberts, PhD
  23. Professional memberships to associations, groups, or organizations
  24. Money towards professional development
  25. A spa day
  26. A weekend away

Presentations, Public Speaking, and Posters

Fail Proof Slide Design masterclass

Echo Rivera, PhD brings you a 2 hour masterclass that helps you take your presentation slides from mediocre to memorable. I’ve benefited from Echo’s training myself. I highly recommend it.

How to Design an Award-Winning Scientific Poster course

I got to chat with Tullio Rossi, PhD of Animate Your Science last month about his scientific poster course. I knew I just had to share it with you. Have an engaging poster for your next conference.

Teach the Geek to Speak Society

Neil Thompson knows public speaking is hard. If you’re in STEM, you need to know how to communicate effectively about your research. Get the Teach the Geek to Speak course program with live monthly coaching calls.

Academic and Scientific Writing

Kickstart Your Journal Article course

Lisa Munro, PhD has a course for overwhelmed academics who want to get their journal articles published. It’s time to get your manuscript out!

The Researchers’ Writing Academy course

Anna Clemens, PhD has a course to help you write clear scientific papers for high-ranking STEM journals. If you’re in the physical, health, life, and earth sciences, this step-by-step system is the only course in scientific writing you’ll ever need.


Teaching College Ultimate Bundle Access

Get Norman Eng, EdD’s top resources for engaging students online and offline. This bundle pack of shows you the step-by-step methods you need.

Lecture Breakers Conference (virtual)

Barbi Honeycutt, PhD’s Lecture Breakers Conference is coming back in 2022. Earn a digital badge when you attend this conference packed full of practical advice and strategies you can use in your courses. Save the date! The 3rd Lecture Breakers Virtual Conference returns June 7-9, 2022.

Connecting with the Public and Media

Power Your Research course

Do you want major media coverage? Sheena Howard, PhD shares proven strategies to land features in the L.A. Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and more. Get more visibility for your research.

LinkedIn Profile for Professors and Researchers course

I’m Jennifer van Alstyne. Join professors around the world in my LinkedIn Profile course. This course helps academics, scientists, and researchers update each section of your LinkedIn profile. Get instant access today.

The Connected Exec course

Josie Ahlquist, PhD brings you a self-paced course on digital leadership for Higher Education executives. Learn social media strategy to connect with your campus community online.

Academic Careers and Leaving Academia

The Art of the Academic Cover Letter course

Are you applying for academic jobs? Learn how to write a cover letter for your academic job application. Showcase your record and stand out in the academic job market with this course from Karen Kelsky, PhD. If you don’t already have it, The Professor Is In book is a must read. You’ll need it for the course.

PhD Career Clarity Program

Confidently market yourself for the jobs you actually want with Jennifer Polk, PhD’s new PhD Career Clarity Program. Dr. Polk has been a career coach for PhDs since 2013.

If you need help getting clarity on your post academic career, this is the program for you. My fiancĂ© joined this program, so I know it’s transformative.

There are live Q&A Zoom meetings. And there’s an awesome Sample Emails for PhD Job Seekers resource that comes with it.

Build a Business with 1:1 and Group Coaching

I’ve met so many professors and graduate students running a business. If you want to build a business on part-time hours Cheryl Lau has 1:1 and Group Coaching programs for you.

Retreats and Conferences

Don’t forget Barbi Honeycutt, PhD’s Lecture Breakers conference!

New Year New Moon Goal Setting Retreat (virtual)

Set your intentions for the new year on January 2, 2022. This virtual retreat from Katy Peplin, PhD of Thrive PhD helps you set your goals, dreams, and aspirations for the new year.

The Grad School Success Summit replays (virtual) FREE

Are you in graduate school? Do you know someone heading to grad school in the new year? This virtual summit has great sessions on school-life balance, wellness, and more. Get ready with a boost of motivation brought to you by AllantĂ© Whitmore of the Blk + In Grad School podcast. You’ll get free access to the replays (including my session on How to Manage Your Online Presence in Grad School).


Sabbatical: A Low-Stress Coloring Book for Academics

Need a break from the hustle of academic life? De-stress with this coloring book from Monica F. Cox, PhD.

52 Ways to Stay Well Set: Book and Planner

Hugh Kearns, PhD says “being a researcher can be the best job in the world.” It’s also challenging. Learn a strategy for each week of the year to help you stay well during your PhD, postdoc, or research career.

Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship and How to See Past Them

Gary Lewandowski Jr., PhD is an expert on relationships. This is a book I read earlier in the year I think would be great for academics. Whether you’re in grad school, teaching, or in the lab, relationships can be hard. Appreciate the love you have, or find the one you want and deserve. I learned a lot, and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Power of Procrastination

This mini book is all about procrastination, academic creativity and guilt, by Jorge Cham of PhD Comics.

Bad Habits

A psychological thriller from Amy Gentry, PhD about a Claire “Mac” Woods, a professor in a deadly rivalry. Can we ever leave the past behind? This book had me on the edge of my seat.


The PhD Balance Community

PhD Balance is a community creating space for graduate students to openly discuss mental health. Join the community for access to webinars, challenges, and conversation.

The Personal Finance for PhDs Community

Emily Roberts, PhD sets you up for success with your personal finances. From paying down debt to taxes, this community helps PhDs make the most of your money.

Other Gift Ideas for Academics

Professional memberships to associations and organizations

Support the academic in your life with an annual membership to a professional organization or association in their field. For graduate students especially, this is a valuable line on their CV that opens their world to new conferences and networking opportunities.

Money towards professional development activities

Help a professor, researcher, or graduate student gain professional development with money for

  • Conferences
  • Award submission
  • Research travel
  • Working with a coach
  • Joining a training or course

A spa day

Give the gift of relaxation with a day at the spa. A hot stone massage can help relieve those post-semester grading muscle aches.

A weekend away

Sometimes the best gift is a night away. Take a trip and leave the work behind for the ultimate weekend getaway.

Thanks for checking out this gift guide

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Please share it with a friend or colleague! For more gift ideas check out these 16 unique gifts for researchers and scientists. You can discover more books about teaching and learning.

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Gifts and Holiday

Jennifer van Alstyne View All →

Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and communications consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help professors, researchers, and graduate students manage their online presence. Jennifer’s goal is to help people share their work with the world.

Check out her personal site at https://jennifervanalstyne
or learn more about the services she offers at

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