Resources for starting your Ph.D. application

Finding Advisors+Departments for your Computer Science Ph.D.

By Jeff Huang on 2021-02-06

This is a page intended for Computer Science Ph.D. applicants.

A Ph.D. is a big decision, and your advisor and department define your life for the next 5 to 7 years. I wanted to put together some starting points for helping applicants (you?) come up with a shortlist of Ph.D. programs to apply for. The first three resources were created by me and my research group, and we'd love to get any feedback if you find them useful at all.

Computer Science Professor Listings (United States and Canada)

mixed virtual and physical environment We have been curating a publicly-editable directory of computer science professors. Filter by subfield of interest or university to drill down, or sort by JoinYear to see when the faculty were hired, or look for where alumni from your school have ended up.

Here's an example of the SubField filtered for HCI, and professors sorted by their JoinYear, to see the recently hired HCI professors.

Computer Science Open Rankings (United States)

mixed virtual and physical environment This is a meta ranking of four individual computer science rankings covering universites in the United States based on different methodologies. Select top-level options like AI, Systems, Theory to rank universities by an area, or subfields like Computer Graphics and Databases to build a custom ranking with those criteria.

For example, here are a list of school sorted by their ranking for AI in U.S. News, csrankings.org, placement rank, and best paper awards.

Best Paper Awards (Worldwide)

If you are still exploring subfields, flip through this list of best paper awards received at 30 top conferences in computer science. This can give you a sense of what each research community thinks are exemplary papers for each conference. Find conferences that match your topics of interest, and look at what departments and groups are publishing them.

Ph.D. Stipends (Worldwide)

This list of stipends covers all Ph.D. programs but you can enter "computer science" in the search box to limit it to computer science. It seems to have a few outliers, but can be useful to gauge approximately what you can expect for a stipend and what the cost of living in that city may be. This may not be your primary criteria, but I think there's no shame in wanting to live comfortably for a good portion of your adult life.