The Ph.D. Grind
A Ph.D. Student Memoir
The Ph.D. Grind, a 122-page e-book, is the first known detailed account of an entire Ph.D. experience. So far, over 100,000 people—professors, research scientists, current and prospective Ph.D. students, and professionals in a variety of fields—have read it and collectively sent me hundreds of heartfelt email responses. If you don't mind spoilers, read the 10–20 minute summary of the book.
This book chronicles my six years of working towards a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University from 2006 to 2012. A diverse variety of people can benefit from reading it, including:
The Ph.D. Grind differs from existing Ph.D.-related writings due to its unique format, timeliness, and tone:
Finally, before I begin my story, I want to emphasize that there is a great deal of diversity in Ph.D. student experiences depending on one's school, department, field of study, and funding situation. I feel very fortunate that I have been granted so much freedom and autonomy throughout my Ph.D. years; I know students who have experienced far more restrictions. My story is only a single data point, so what I present might not generalize. However, I will try my best to avoid being overly specific. Happy reading!
The best way to read this book is by downloading the 122-page PDF and then printing it out or reading it on an electronic tablet device.
If you have a Kindle (or similar device), you can download the MOBI e-book version. If you have a Nook, iBooks reader, or another EPUB reader, you can download the EPUB version. However, neither of these formats look as "polished" as the PDF.
Alternatively, you can also read it in your web browser by following these chapter links:
Finally, if you want a 10–20 minute summary of the book, read The Ph.D. Grind: tl;dr Edition.
Here are some notable comments from readers. (Note that “CS” stands for Computer Science.)
“You've done a good job of explaining just what this thing called PhD
actually is, and that is a service to the world, both to people
contemplating entering a PhD program, and for those who have to deal
with the products of a program ...”
“Phil Guo's short online book, The PhD Grind, is the best description of
the modern PhD experience in CS that I know of. People working on, or
thinking about working on, a PhD in CS should read it.”
“I think this is the first full, detailed, and honest account of
an entire PhD that I have ever read. Worth reading for first/second year
students: sometimes the anecdotal can make a longer-lasting impression
than the usual parade of rarefied generic advice one usually
“I sent it to my grandmother, and she is really enjoying it. I am
the first person in my family to get a PhD, so she had a lot of
questions about the process, many of which your memoir was able to
answer so that I did not have to. :)”
“From a prospective CS grad student,