PHD Comics creator to speak for Assembly Series

Screening of The PHD Movie precedes talk also sponsored by GPC, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Graduate school can be a lonely, stressful place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh about it.

At 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, the Washington University in St. Louis community will get to see something out of the ordinary: The Graduate Professional Council (GPC), with assistance from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Assembly Series, will screen The PhD Movie (2011) in Edison Theatre. The film, approximately 75 minutes in length, will be followed by a discussion led by Jorge Cham, PhD, creator of the online comic strip for graduate students that inspired the movie.

PHD Comics … never heard of them? For those who are in graduate school, thinking about graduate school, or made it through graduate school, Cham’s “Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD)” online comic strips are a graduate student’s version of “Doonesbury.”

With a website,, that has received more than 7 million visits and with four published volumes of comics, Cham has captured the bifurcated world of the individuals in academia who are caught in-between: not just students, not yet faculty.

But PHD Comics — and now a live action movie — aren’t just for graduate students. Its themes revolve around intelligent people with stressful lives, trying to find balance between their professional and personal lives.

“Although graduate education can sometimes be an isolating experience, Jorge’s comic strip helps remind graduate students that they are not alone,” says Nicholas Miller, GPC president and a graduate student in the Department of English in Arts & Sciences.

“The struggles and challenges we face are often shared, but so are the rewards that come from overcoming those challenges. We hope thatbringing Jorge to campus will bring us a few laughs, but will also remind us all that there is a richness to graduate student life that shouldn’t be ignored.”

Miller says Jorge’s comic strip is read by graduate students in more than 800 fields of study across the globe, and over the years he has continued to add characters from various disciplines. “As our mission for the GPC is to bring together graduate and professional students from across Washington University, bringing Jorge to campus seemed like an excellent opportunity,” Miller says.

Cham began the popular comic serial while experiencing the stress and strains as a graduate student at Stanford University, where he earned a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering.

The program is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit or call (314) 935-4620.