'''''[[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php PHD]]''''' ('''''[[FunWithAcronyms Piled Higher & Deeper]]''''') is a webcomic by Jorge Cham [[WebcomicsLongRunners that has been running since 1997]].

The characters are a bunch of graduate students at Stanford University. They obsess about ever getting their theses completed, struggle to make ends meet with their meager stipends, wonder why life is passing them by, and slack off while their supervisors aren't looking.

The main characters are:


An engineering grad and OnlySaneMan of the bunch who just recently came to crushing realization that she is, in fact, a geek. Almost always seen in the same bright red shirt. Prof. Jones is her adviser.

'''Mike [[MeaningfulName Slackenerny]]'''

TheSlacker, who has been at grad school longer than any other character. He has a surprising amount of luck in his quest to obtain free food, though this has not endeared him to the faculty. The only one who actually graduated. Now a post-doc. Prof. Smith was his adviser.


A humanities- er, ''Social Science'' student, she is constantly finding causes to rally protests. A GranolaGirl and proud of it. Prof. Rivera is her adviser.


[[NoNameGiven The unnamed protagonist.]] Has an older brother (who Mike knows) and a younger sister named Dee. Sees grad school as a good way to postpone the real world. Wonders why nobody ever uses his name. Prof. Smith is his adviser.

'''Professor Smith'''

A SadistTeacher whose past accomplishments are [[MysteriousPast spoken of in whispers by grad students.]] Wears a mix of CoolShades, ScaryShinyGlasses, and OpaqueNerdGlasses.

!!Contains examples of:

* TheAce: The "Golden Boy".
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1443 Publish and/or Perish!]]
* AlienLunch: Possibly ramen.
* AllIssuesArePoliticalIssues: [[GranolaGirl Tajel]] often does this.
* ArtEvolution: Obviously, considering the sheer length of time its been running. Still, just compare the art change over the years. Still, just look at the differnce between [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1 the first strip]] and [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1516 a recent one.]]
* BaitAndSwitchComparison: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1447 Occupy Wall Street.]]
* BaldOfEvil: Prof. Smith (and most of his colleagues); comes with a ...
** BeardOfEvil
* BigEater: Dee, the main character's younger sister.
* BrickJoke: The protagonist's [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1423 travel reimbursement form]], which shows up again [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1477 over a year latter]].
* CallBack: Mike teaches the protagonist how to distract with graphs, which unfortunately doesn't work too well for him. Mike himself does it over a year later, with more success.
* ClassReunion: Cecilia goes to her 10-year high school reunion in [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=268 this]] story arc.
* CueTheFlyingPigs: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=590 Here]]. Also, Hell Freezes Over. Guess what just happened.
* {{Defictionalization}}: Drawing comics about students who procrastinate endlessly has resulted in Jorge Cham hitting the lecture circuit with a conference on procrastination. As a result, many other real-life universities (beyond Stanford) and real life grad students make cameos.
* DoesNotLikeShoes: Tajel sometimes, as part of her GranolaGirl personality.
* DullSurprise: Prof. Smith [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1451 apparently]].
* EatingLunchAlone: Doing it at the campus cafeteria makes Cecilia feel unbearably self-conscious.
* EducationThroughPyrotechnics: The machines used for experimental research frequently blow up in people's faces.
* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: To keep going, the series needs the characters to remain grad students, meaning they have to postpone the completion of their respective theses indefinitely. Ultimately averted with Mike, who does complete his own thesis after years of procrastination, but stays anyway as a member of the teaching staff.
** As the main character [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=359 put it]] in a [[BreakTheFourthWall press conference]] in 2003, "Basically, if Mike graduates, we're all out of a job..."
* {{Flanderization}}: Tajel. At first, Tajel demonstrates all sorts of semi-stereotypical things, such as camping out at the mall after Thanksgiving to take advantage of Black Friday sales. This changed soon enough, of course...
** Professor Smith changed too. Originally he was TheFaceless (see ScaryShinyGlasses below), then started to become more of an AbsentMindedProfessor. Later, he just became a professor with a serious LackOfEmpathy.
* FunWithAcronyms: Of course, the strip title (though that itself is an old joke). And [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1100 this strip]] has a how-to guide!
* GranolaGirl: Tajel.
* HeavySleeper: The main character, Mike Slackenerny, and increasingly Dee.
* HeroicBSOD: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1383 Literally]].
* ICantBelieveAGuyLikeYouWouldNoticeMe: Cecilia with her secret high school crush. She finds out ten years later that he had noticed her all right.
* InVinoVeritas: Played with. The shy and reclusive Cecilia turns into the LifeOfTheParty not because of drunkenness, but from a chocolate high.
* LimitedWardrobe: Probably justified considering how cash-strapped the characters are. In any case, they are almost always depicted in the same outfits.
* {{Meganekko}}: Dee. Cecilia also used to be one in high school and her undergrad years.
* MeaningfulName: The resident RidiculousProcrastinator is creatively named Mike Slackenerny.
* MoodWhiplash: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1162 Tales from the Road - MD Anderson Cancer Center]]. It starts off as a typical lighthearted 'Tales From The Road', then in the last section, turns into depressing stories about cancer, ending with a former grad student who was diagnosed thanking him for making them laugh, with the reply "I guess we all do what we can."
* MonochromeCasting: Averted. The main character is Asian/Hispanic, Tajel is non-American and has an East Indian mother, and Prof. Khumalo is African.
* TheMovie: Yes, [[http://www.phdcomics.com/movie/index.php there is one.]]
* MysteriousPast / ShroudedInMyth: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1395 Smith's past is the obsession of grad students.]]
* NerdGlasses: The main character.
* NotThatKindOfDoctor: No one is studying to become physicians.
** TruthInTelevision: In [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1244 this strip]] the author recounts a time when he was detained by British border agents on the grounds that he didn't qualify as an academic visitor.
--> Jorge Cham: "But I have a Ph.D.! I'm giving lectures at universities! I have a Ph.D.!"
--> Border Agent: "Sorry. The rules say doctors are allowed in, but you're not a ''real doctor'', are you?"
--> [=*=][[NotMakingThisUpDisclaimer He ''actually'' said this.]]
* NoNameGiven: The main character of the strip is never referred to by name. Jorge uses him to depict himself in his "Tales from the Road", where he visits other universities. In the movie, [[spoiler:his name is revealed to be Winston.]]
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Faced by Mike when submitting his thesis (he has to come back because the layout isn't in perfect conformity with university rules), by Tajel when applying for a visa, and by the main character when trying to get reimbursed for travel.
* PercussiveMaintenance: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=771 For the cutting-edge lab equipment]]
* RightInFrontOfMe: Upon meeting Khumalo, Tajel starts chatting him up without realizing that he's her new professor.
* RunningGag: π/2
* ScaryShinyGlasses: Prof. Smith
* ShoutOut: [[TheSixthSense I see]] [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1448 post-docs!]]
* TheSlacker: While several characters are slackers to some extent, Mike Slackenerny stands head and shoulders above the rest in this regard. An eternal student, he's the ''Webcomic/PhD'' answer to ''{{Doonesbury}}''[='=]s Zonker Harris.
* SpitTake: Cecilia pulls one on purpose [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1123 here]].
* StarvingStudent: Basically the entire cast.
* StatusQuoIsGod: Lampshaded. The characters like to point out to freshmen that they were already in university when the latter were middle-schoolers.
* StillGotIt: Prof. Smith when he finds out he can still take a nap balanced on a chair, as he used to do as a grad student.
* TakeThat: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1156 This strip]] pokes fun at TV shows that get the science wrong. [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1391 This strip]] does the same to movies that also get the science wrong.
** Though the supposed take that at Series/{{Mythbusters}} makes it abundantly clear that [[ShallowParody he's never actually watched it]].
** And now [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1452 this strip]] at channels that claim to be focused on science.
* TerseTalker: [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1444 One of the signs that you really screwed up.]] The other is...
** PurpleProse
* WalkingTechbane: Prof. Smith, shown as an example of how this trope works in [[http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=821 this strip]].
* WeddingDay: Tajel and Khumalo's wedding.
* WriteWhoYouKnow: The author is himself a Stanford alumnus and former graduate student (he spent grad school turning bugs into cyborgs).