To understand grad school one should understand the term “Research”. What is your understanding of research? You might be thinking, it means the process of discovering a completely new groundbreaking technology by solving a very hard problem which no one has ever solved before. If so you might be wrong. It actually means the process of exploring the documented knowledge about solving various related and interconnected problems to gain directions/insights of designing a new approach to tackle the problem at hand in a better way leveraging the latest technologies. It includes conducting experiments in multiple settings (with various possible inputs) and sharing of your documented findings/inferences with the world so that we can progress collectively breaking the barriers of ignorance.
This illustration does an excellent job.
Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:
- By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:
- By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:
- With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a speciality:
- A master’s degree deepens that specialty:
- Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:
- Once you’re at the boundary, you focus:
- You push at the boundary for a few years:
- Until one day, the boundary gives way:
- And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.:
- Of course, the world looks different to you now:
- So, don’t forget the bigger picture:
Keep pushing! All the best!
Source via Quora: Matt Might, a professor in computer science at the University of Utah, created The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. to explain what a Ph.D. is to new and aspiring graduate students. Matt has licensed the guide for sharing with special terms under the Creative Commons license.