I vaguely remember reading an article(as an online pdf - possibly via twitter) on why one should/should not do a PhD; what doing a PhD entails. It was well structured and specifically mentioned that a PhD isn't for everyone. I also remember it was written by a prominent computer scientist(or a mathematician). Can anyone provide suggestions/hints about what article it might've been?

  • 2
    Surprisingly, nobody has voted to close because it's a shopping question.
    – Allure
    Oct 31, 2018 at 21:52
  • 2
    This question is rather non-specific, rather along the lines of "I once heard a song. It goes something like this: Do do do do DO DO DO. Does anyone know the title?"
    – user96258
    Nov 1, 2018 at 4:46
  • @Allure Flag "Question appears off-topic (data seeking)" was declined by mod. Dec 10, 2019 at 20:16

5 Answers 5


Here are some sources I have found that speak to the topic of not getting a PhD.

Perhaps this document is the one you are looking for? Both the authors are mathematicians with PhDs. I would not say they are necessarily prominent, but they are established.


This is a short article reposted by a professor at Stanford University.


Here are three other online articles about the topic.




I will add my own brief commentary here. Obtaining a PhD has never hurt me financially. I have a well paying full-time job that requires a PhD. (Now should the job require a PhD is a different story). There are many, many, many jobs in my field (statistics) that prefer a PhD. I have never regretted obtaining a PhD.

  • 2
    Generally speaking, though, people who earn doctorates do it because they love knowledge more than money.
    – Buffy
    Oct 31, 2018 at 17:19
  • 2
    @Buffy Which is amusing, since usually the 'success' metric for claims of "PhDs are a waste of time" center around money.
    – Vladhagen
    Oct 31, 2018 at 17:25
  • 1
    I always tell my students that they should go into New York law if they want to make tons of money with a quick graduate degree. I'd then also mention that I have Fridays off while they work 90 hours a week.
    – Vladhagen
    Oct 31, 2018 at 17:55
  • 3
    Hmmm. Actually, you probably work 24/7/52. But the work is indistinguishable from fun. Imagine, getting paid to think.
    – Buffy
    Oct 31, 2018 at 18:19
  • 2
    @user4052054 I'm not convinced that passion leads to working weekends (causing burnouts). Regardless of how passionate a researcher is, they know they must rest.
    – user2768
    Nov 1, 2018 at 9:52

Philip Guo writes a lot of advice, including an e-book about earning a PhD.



Perhaps Teach undergraduates that doing a PhD will require them to embrace failure. The author is a molecular biologist, not a mathematician.


Perhaps this short "Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D." by Matt Might? It's a personal favorite of mine. He is a computer scientist but there is not much advice about why it's not for everyone. However, it's worth a read regardless.


I have found the article I was looking for, here. Although the author isn't a popular computer scientist, I did find parts of it quite useful.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .