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I hope this question isn't too broad. I'm graduating next semester and I have been accepted into grad school, but I'm having difficulty finding a full map of what one should do to successfully go from where I am now, to a Ph.D., to (eventually) a tenure track--hopefully as a full-time student through the process. Obviously, this is over the course of 10+ years, but I want to do everything I possibly can, as early as I can.

Some things my advisors have told me for the near future:

  • Write a thesis as part of your Master's program
  • Find a professor to research with (goes with the first bullet)
  • Go to at least two different schools throughout the whole process

Undergraduate advisors didn't have very much advise past that. I'm looking for a broad roadmap of what my future would require/look like if I were to go down this path.

  • What field? What country? I assume you were admitted to a master's program? – cag51 Apr 3 at 19:26
  • CS looking to specialize in computer vision, and yes – Zaya Apr 3 at 19:26
  • What country (or part of the world)? I ask because in the US, I would be concerned that you were in a master's program at all; in Europe, getting a master's would be a very logical step – cag51 Apr 3 at 19:28
  • Oh, I missed that. Yes, the US; do people normally skip the master's? Most people I know in the Ph.D. programs here, and my profs all got masters before – Zaya Apr 3 at 19:29
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Many students who want to study for the PhD in the US apply directly at graduation from their undergraduate education. A MS isn't needed for most fields, but might include one along the way for little or no additional effort. But expect that such a doctoral program will include additional coursework in your field prior to starting research, and, perhaps, prior to choosing a research advisor.

The advice you were given is good, but the MS isn't actually needed (most fields). What you need is a solid record of accomplishment and good letters of recommendation that suggest you will be a success in graduate study.

The advice about going to more than one school is so that you have more opportunities to view a variety of approaches and a wider range of ideas than you are likely to get if you stay at the same institution throughout.

In some doctoral programs you can get a MS just by asking for it and paying a fee (some paperwork). In some you write a thesis of lesser scope than a doctoral dissertation, but possibly giving some practice with research and writing.

The path might be something like 6-8 years, possibly as long as 10.

You need a way to support yourself. The common way is to serve as a TA in your doctoral department. Research Assistants are open as well, but to fewer people in some fields.

But in the US, the best advice for right now is to apply to a few programs that interest you, including some that are more likely to take you than some others.

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