Classmate Rallied Behind for Revealing Salary to Bragging Ph.D. Candidate

Reddit is rallying behind a person who felt guilty after revealing their salary to their high school classmate who's now working towards his Ph.D.

Posting to the r/AmITheA**hole subreddit, stylized "AITA," u/Tiny-Alps-334 earned over 4,200 upvotes and 400 comments for their post, "AITA for bragging about my salary to someone, who tried to shame me for my career choice?"

The original poster (OP) says that they were on the bus when they saw their old classmate, "Charles," and started to catch up, as it'd been eight years since they last saw each other. Charles is now a biologist working towards his Ph.D., and he wants to be a researcher when he gets his degree.

"I was quite impressed, congratulated him and told him what degree I got and what I do for work. He was really surprised that I'd only gotten a bsc degree and started talking down on me for it," u/Tiny-Alps-334 wrote. A BSc, or Bachelor of Science, is also known as a BS degree—according to, the difference is just down to the preference of individual universities.

The OP says Charles kept harping on their decision to get a lower-level degree, and even asked why their "studies and career [had gone] sideways." The OP merely replied that they enjoy what they do and are happy with their life.

"He responded saying yeah, yeah, but if I had gotten at least a masters degree, I could make decent money, wouldn't have to work for pennies and watch everyone besides me climb the career ladder," u/Tiny-Alps-334 wrote.

The assumption that u/Tiny-Alps-334 wasn't making much money confused them, and they told Charles they were satisfied with their salary, and that they "definitely wouldn't call X amount 'pennies.'" Charles was offended, told them that it was "distasteful to brag about salary" and shortly afterward got off the bus.

Though OP was initially confused, they looked up researcher salaries and found out that Ph.D. students made under minimum wage–and that once they got the degree, their salary wouldn't increase much. Finding that Charles was making so little, the OP then felt guilty and took to the forum to find out if they were wrong to bring up their salary.

salary ph.d. researcher bsc degree money unions
The internet is backing someone who told their classmate how much they made after he condemned the choices they made in education. iStock/Getty

While graduate students frequently don't make much, there are unionization efforts to help student employees make more money. As of 2019, there are about 83,000 unionized student employees, according to a 2020 study. The effort was given a boost in 2016 when the National Labor Relations Board ruled 3-1 that graduate students at private universities were eligible to unionize.

Though efforts to unionize graduate student employees have increased greatly in the last decade, the efforts first started in the late 1960s, with Rutgers University and City University of New York being the first to see unionized teaching assistants. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was the first school to have its own Teaching Assistant Union win a contract.

The subreddit agreed that u/Tiny_Alps-334 was not wrong.

"[Not the A**hole]. If he didn't want to play the 'whose d**k is bigger' game with you, he should've kept his pants zipped," u/NUT-me-SHELL wrote in the top-rated comment with over 10,000 upvotes.

"[Not the A**hole]!" u/SatsuJin7 wrote. "He was bragging about his degree but when you bragged about your salary, then it's not ok? What an a**hole. Also he is very much naive if he thinks getting masters degree guarantees a well paid job. Doesn't always works that way. Also as a Biologist myself, I can tell him good f**king luck if he thinks things will be as easy as he believes."

"I don't know if this is a US kind of thing, but everywhere I've worked the best salaries didn't require masters or PhD. It's my experience that academia pays very little compared to other segments, so I can't really understand these points. [Not the A**hole]," u/mauriciodiello95 wrote.

"Lol I have a phd in molecular biology and I'll definitely congratulate anyone who DID NOT chose this path, and cry with the ones that did," u/Odd_Anywhere256 wrote. "Charles got what he deserved. [Not the A**hole]"

Newsweek reached out to u/Tiny-Alps-334 for comment.