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Comics for All Ages: PhD Comics

PhD Comics

Cham, Jorge. “Piled Higher and Deeper(PhD) Comics.” PhD Comics: The Word Symposium. Jorge Cham, 1997. Web. <>

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PhD Comics follows the lives of graduate students as they navigate the tricky world of first joining their program, interacting with undergraduate students, trying to decide if they want to go for their PhD, and then working closely with their advisors. Themes of procrastination, finding free food, digging gout from all the research needed to do, and the stress of graduate school make this comic easy to relate to for graduate student specifically, but also anyone in school or having graduated.

Visual and textual style: realistic, modern, conversational, expressive

Potential readers/appeal factors: relatable, parody, college students, satire, college professors, slice of life, relationships, research, procrastination


  • Cham was awarded the 2009 NSF/AAAS International Science and Engineering visualization Challenge First Place in Informational Graphics.
  • Cham was named one of Los Angeles’ most interesting people of 2013.

Other pertinent information:

  • The creator of this strip, Jorge Cham, has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.
  • PhD Comics has its own YouTube Channel.
  • PhD Comics has been featured in print newspapers as well as online.
  • Five collections of these comics have been published: Piled Higher and Deeper: A Graduate Student Comic Strip Collection, Life is tough and then you graduate: The second collection of Piled Higher and Deeper comic strips, Scooped! The Third Piled higher and Deeper Comic Strip Collection, Academic Stimulus Package, and Adventures in Thesisland.
  • A live-action film adaptation of these comics was released in 2011. This was independently produced and released. More information is at

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