Thoughts on Getting a PhD

 Matthew Turk

UCSB Computer Science


The following are personal opinions and observations (based on a modified version of a presentation by H. T. Kung at CMU in 1987).  These are not department or university policy.

The PhD process is sort of an apprenticeship.  You're not there just to do a thesis; you're there to become a mature and knowledgeable researcher in your field.  Sometimes this means working on non-thesis-related projects for a time, helping out with lab/group duties, giving lectures, giving demos to various people, helping the advisor with reviewing or proposal writing, etc. etc.  All of these "distractions" can be quite useful to you later on.


The PhD process is long and arduous.  Many (most?) people consider quitting at some point.  It helps to have clear goals at the beginning, to remind yourself while in the midst:  Why do I want to do this? Am I committed to persevering through it?


What's a PhD thesis all about?


Typical stages of graduate student life (in chronological order):


Here are some things a PhD thesis might do:






Stages of PhD thesis research