Ever wondered what getting a doctorate really means? Matt Might, professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah, explains it perfectly in this graphic presentation that starts with a simple circle:

Every fall, I explain to a fresh batch of Ph.D. students what a Ph.D. is.

It's hard to describe it in words.

So, I use pictures.

Read below for the illustrated guide to a Ph.D.

Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

With a bachelor's degree, you gain a specialty:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

A master's degree deepens that specialty:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

Once you're at the boundary, you focus:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

You push at the boundary for a few years:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

Until one day, the boundary gives way:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

And, that dent you've made is called a Ph.D.:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

Of course, the world looks different to you now:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

So, don't forget the bigger picture:

What Exactly Is a Doctorate?S

Click to viewKeep pushing.

Matt Might is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah. He finished his dent at Georgia Tech in 2007, and now enjoys advising his own Ph.D. students on how to make theirs. He tweets from @mattmight and blogs at blog.might.net.