Earning a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) is a substantial and significant educational achievement. A gift given to the graduating doctor should be appropriate to his status professionally, be reflective of his field, and have a personal sensitivity. This article highlights those various considerations so that the recipient will remember the day and your recognition of his accomplishment.
A Ph.D. is a terminal degree. Your gift should exemplify the long-lasting nature of the feat. Avoid electronic gifts. They are not practical for the circumstances, considering the rapid improvements being made in electronic devices. Think about future career uses of your gift. Practical gift ideas include a customized diploma frame, a desk business card holder, a monogrammed leather briefcase, a fountain pen (not ballpoint) and pencil set, an oil painting of the graduate's college or university and classically designed bookends. You may wish to consider office furnishings or a new car, depending on your budget and relationship to the graduate.
Field of Study
Gifts may also be reflective of the field of study of the graduate. Ask one of her professors for ideas, if the degree is not in a traditional field. Appropriate gifts might include a mortar and pestle for a pharmacist or medical doctor, an antique slide rule or compass for an architect or engineer, a director's chair for theater majors, a telescope for astronomers, or a microscope for a botanist. A marine biologist might be given a boat, an artist a set of fine camel-hair brushes and easel, and a sculptor a marble block, depending on your budget.
Your personal relationship may dictate how you approach gift giving. It is preferable to give a gift with a lasting sense of your generosity. This may be accomplished through the uniqueness of the gift itself. You may give a gift as simple as a cookie jar with a handwritten note stating “man cannot live by bread alone.” Consider the recipient's favorite beverages and give a crystal decanter with a bottle of it, crystal wine glasses, hand blown glass tumblers, or kiln-fired coffee or tea mugs with a creative serving tray. A quality world globe or a globe of the moon will prove to be an icebreaker for conversation in any professional office. If appropriate to the individual, an antique religious text, manuscript or artifact may be welcomed. Do not overlook the opportunity to monogram everyday items to present a professional flourish when on display.