Fall 2023: CS 7930 Intro to Computing PhD

General Information:

Course Content:

This course serves all incoming Ph.D. students in the Kahlert School of Computing. Earning a Ph.D. is difficult - and at times even demoralizing - but conducting and communicating research can be an incredible joy in life. We will examine the process of getting a Ph.D. and develop skills to improve your chances of success at research, while, hopefully, making your studies a healthy and fun experience. This course will provide you with weekly tutorials and discussions on developing important skills for success in your Ph.D. studies and research more generally. We will examine common pitfalls in Ph.D. studies and demystify some of the more obscure elements of getting your degree. Our weekly meetings will give you a stress- and judgment-free venue to express any concerns and ask any questions you may have about your studies. Finally, this course will give you an opportunity to meet and bond with other students in your cohort, who will likely be some of your closest friends and supporters during the 5+ years of your studies. You will learn about research skills through short, weekly readings before class meets. You will be asked to write a short response to these readings each week. These skills will be reinforced through structured discussions and activities each week. You will also interact with more senior Ph.D. students and other faculty in a few panel discussions during the semester. You will have a few small homework assignments to help you put these skills into action and set you up to succeed in your studies. You will know you are doing well if you are participating in class meetings, doing the readings, and writing your reading responses. This will determine 25% of your grade. The additional homework assignments will make up the remaining 75%.

School of Computing Graduate Handbook

Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student's legal name as well as "Preferred first name" (if previously entered by you in the Student Profile section of your CIS account). While CIS refers to this as merely a preference, I will honor you by referring to you with the name and pronoun that feels best for you in class, on papers, exams, etc. Please advise me of any name or pronoun changes (and please update CIS) so I can help create a learning environment in which you, your name, and your pronoun will be respected.

College Guidelines

SafeU Information

The University of Utah values the safety of all campus community members. To report suspicious activity or to request a courtesy escort, call campus police at 801-585-COPS (801-585-2677). You will receive important emergency alerts and safety messages regarding campus safety via text message. For more information regarding safety and to view available training resources, including helpful videos, visit SAFEU.

Special Needs:

The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations. All written information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.


Students are expected to attend the weekly lecture/discussion, read the assigned materials, engage in classroom discussions, and upload reading responses on Canvas. This will determine 25% of your grade. In addition, 75% of your grade will be based on other homework assignments, such as crafting a research proposal. Only in exceptional circumstances will late submissions be accepted (with a score deduction).

Cheating policy:

Working with others on assignments is a good way to learn the material and appreciate other perspectives. Discussions and brainstorming with others is therefore encouraged. However, there are limits to the degree of cooperation that is permitted. Any written portion of an assignment has to be done strictly on an individual basis, without referring to materials produced by other students or by generative AI (like ChatGPT). Note the School of Computing's Academic Misconduct Policy. BOTTOM LINE: You may not copy from another student or from any other source, and you may not allow another student to copy your work!! Any violation of the above is considered to be cheating and will result in a reduced or a failing grade in the class.

2023 Class Schedule

Date Lecture Topic
Wed, Aug 23 Logistics and Introduction.
Wed, Aug 30 How to Find an Advisor, The Mechanics of a PhD.
Wed, Sep 6 Goals.
Wed, Sep 13 Writing: The Practice of Writing.
Wed, Sep 20 Writing: Outlines and Structure.
Wed, Sep 27 Writing: Other Tips.
Wed, Oct 4 Graduate Student Panel.
Wed, Oct 11 Fall Break
Wed, Oct 18 Writing: Peer Review.
Wed, Oct 25 Reading and Reviewing Papers.
Wed, Nov 1 Self Promotion and Networking.
Wed, Nov 8 Research Patterns.
Wed, Nov 15 Faculty Panel.
Wed, Nov 22 The Publication Black Box.
Wed, Nov 29 Ethical Issues.
Wed, Dec 6 Staying on Track.