I just finished my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I'm 100% sure that I want to pursue a specialization in AI and ML through Computer Science. And becoming a Professor is something that I really want.
I'm taking a gap year to work on my personal projects and I'm also doing some certificate courses online through Coursera.
Part of the reason why I made this decision was that I wanted to be absolutely confident in myself before I went into a professional post-grad program. But, mainly, the reason was that I was scared.
My family can't afford my education any further and not a single member(male or female) in my family (both immediate and distant) have ever studied beyond a Bachelors. I personally don't know anyone who's done a PHD and I'm not sure exactly what to expect from further education. I've been looking up post-grad degree programs in USA, and in Cornell University's MS in CS page I read that students who wish to pursue a PHD should directly apply for the PHD in CS.
That sentence intrigued me. And after looking up some more information, I found that yes, people can opt for PHDs right after Bachelors, it will be difficult obviously, but it's possible. I also found some scholarships online whose eligibility criteria I fit in, but I would still need to work while getting my degree.
But I don't know what happens in PHD programs. Will there be lectures like in normal degree programs or just research and practicals and thesis and projects? Can I work while doing a PHD? And do I really need a Masters degree ? Will it become really difficult without a Masters? Also, what exactly is a fellowship? And what is a Graduate Research Assistant?
I'm genuinely confused. Any advice would be greatly appreciated (not that anyone needs my appreciation). Thank you in advance.