Some Resources for Wesleyan University Students Interested in Pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science

Assembled by Eric Aaron, Wesleyan University
(beta release, Sept. 2010)

This page presents resources that may be helpful to Wesleyan University students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science. I have not personally examined every aspect of these resources, so I can't fully recommend all of them, but they seem potentially useful, so I include them here. Please be in touch with any feedback about this page!

This page consists of the following:

General Advice

A few words from me

My primary advice to students interested in graduate school:
Talk to your advisor(s), your mentor(s), your family, and others who know you best.
There is an enormous amount of information, opinion, and well-intentioned perspective available on the Web and elsewhere, and sorting through all of it can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, your decisions about graduate school might be substantially improved if you make the effort to sort through it and decide which of it is actually important to you. Your network of advisors and supporters can help.

Talk early, talk often.   If you suspect you might be interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science, taking the lead and initiating such conversations with your supporters as early as your sophomore year (or earlier!) can make your path easier near the end of your undergraduate career. As a sophomore in college, you might not be certain you want to attend graduate school--that's completely understood and absolutely okay! Still, if you might be interested in CS grad school, begin talking about it anyway, to help you get more informed, to make sure you're advised of opportunities as they arise, and to help you understand your own thoughts and feelings on the subject.

Talk early, talk often about research, too.   In particular, you might want to have undergraduate research experience before applying to a Ph.D. program in Computer Science. There are many good options for undergraduate research experience, including various NSF REU programs (follow links to search for a program that interests you!) and Wesleyan's Hughes Program, which can support students for summer research experiences and, in some cases, research during the academic year, as well. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) Zone website from the CRA Computing Community Consortium may also have pointers to good research opportunities. An early start to discussing such options with your advisors can help you find the best ones for you.

References to some of the above-mentioned information, opinion, and perspective available on the Web

Some of the information and advice contained in these documents contradicts other information and advice contained in these documents. That's okay. These are intended to be thought-provoking discussion starters, not discussion closers.

In addition, some of the content in these documents is almost certainly redundant, or inaccurate, or simply inapplicable to you. Read carefully and critically.

GRE Information and Resources

GRE tests are often required, to some extent, for graduate study or fellowship awards. Please note, however, that requirements can vary from program to program. For full information, see the requirements of each individual graduate program or fellowship to which you want to apply.

Please be mindful of dates by which tests must be taken for scores to be received on time for your applications.

Fellowship Opportunities

Everyone who applies for admission to a Ph.D. program in Computer Science should also apply for outside fellowships. Here are some to consider.

The first three below are particularly popular; many applicants to Ph.D. programs in Computer Science apply for all three of them. There are also other possibilities, some listed here. (Note that some information for the upcoming year was not available at the time this was written, so some guesses were made. Indeed, it is possible that some programs may even now be defunct.) Please read through the relevant material on the individual programs' websites for full information and to see which may be appropriate for you.

In addition, please see the Resources for Women in Computer Science section below for fellowship opportunities specifically for women.

Finally, some advice on how to apply for and win fellowships:

It is not written specifically for CS, so some information may not be quite on point, but there are many worthy ideas in it.

In particular, strong writing in an application can make a substantial difference in the success of that application. Please know your audience, and take all the time you can to craft a focused, attention-grabbing application!

Resources for Women in Computer Science

These resources support achievement and advancement for women in Computer Science and related fields. Such information may be of particular value to women interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science; some of this information, however, may be useful for both men and women interested in CS, at various stages of their careers.

Many thanks to the students who gave helpful feedback on an earlier version of this page. Thanks also to Tzu-Yi Chen of Pomona College for her inspiration and ideas, including exposing me to the quote below.

"I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes."
-- of uncertain origin (some online sources attribute it to Edna St. Vincent Millay, others to Gene Fowler)
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