Guides to surviving Computer Science graduate school
The Hitchhiker guides trilogy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the DWE.
The Doctoral Written Exam (DWE) no longer exists, so this guide
is mostly obsolete. However, it does contain some test taking
and motivation tips that apply to any major written exam.
So Long, and Thanks for the Ph.D!
This document describes what I wish I had known about
graduate school at the start but had to learn the hard way instead.
While it is aimed at junior graduate students, senior graduate
students may find the job hunting section useful. Includes tips
on doing well as a Research Assistant, being effective,
communicating well, choosing an adviser, and getting a Ph.D. level
job after graduation. I've included information on the job market
and salary figures that I've been able to find. This has turned
out to be my most popular guide by far and I have been told that
at least one other computer science department has it as required
The Doctoral Written Exam (DWE) was a high pressure, 3 day long test
that determined whether you could enter the Ph.D. program and was
also required to receive an M.S. It has been replaced by other
examinations at UNC, but I'll always claim the DWE was tougher. :-)
Due to the high stakes, stress management and keeping the hallways
quiet were important survival techniques, and the following three
documents are examples of ones I posted on those subjects just before
the exams were given.
The following were April Fools Day postings. Some of the humor is
UNC specific but the rest should appeal to anyone going through
(or having went through) the rigors of a CS Ph.D. program. BTW,
Sitterson Hall is the home of UNC's computer science department.
The bathroom security system (1990).
In 1990, the long awaited security cameras were installed in
Sitterson Hall. Here is the
While it didn't bother me, there was some grumbling about
being videotaped, so I thought it was a fair target to
parody on April 1 that year.
The Sitterson Enquirer (1993). Note: "prado" was
the name of a server that went down far too often, thus
becoming the target of much hatred by the grad students.
UNC's Bicentennial Open House (1994).
1994 was the 200th anniversary of UNC Chapel Hill, and one
of the celebration events was an open house where tens of
thousands of visitors came on campus. Having been through
one of these before at Berkeley, I thought it worthwhile to
warn my fellow students about what we were facing. This was
also a deliberate attempt to mimic Dave Barry's style of
humor since it seemed to fit well with this subject.
Back to Ron Azuma's home page.
* Last revised: Fri Dec. 17 1999