25 Best Online PhD in Computer Science [2021 Guide]

Home ยป 25 Best Online PhD in Computer Science [2021 Guide]

An online PhD computer science degree is one of the most impressive degrees you can earn in the field of computers and technology.

PhD in Computer Science

Getting a doctoral degree in computer science may prepare you to run a research lab focused on computing topics or teach in a university setting. It may also qualify you to head up computer teams in organizations that depend on technology systems.

Through the convenience of online courses, you could earn a computer science degree that may lead to high-paying and prestigious positions.

Best Online PhD in Computer Science Programs

Computer and Information Systems Managers working

A PhD in Computer Science is a research degree. You may explore some of the latest developments in this field and begin building your own body of research.

PhD computer science online programs often boast that they offer both breadth and depth. They are broad because they provide courses on a wide range of computer science topics. These include theory, software, artificial intelligence, and system architecture. You will need to demonstrate understanding in each of the breadth areas.

The depth portion of the program comes from intense study in one particular area of the field. After taking the necessary courses, you may have to pass written or oral exams on the topic.

Your work in this area will serve to prepare you for the dissertation process. There are often multiple steps to this major research project, and you may be working on it for several years.

Each university has its own dissertation requirements. You may need to take a preliminary exam, form an advisory committee, and defend your finished dissertation. If you are successful with this process, you’ll officially become a Doctor of Computer Science.

With a PhD, you may join the ranks of academics. You may qualify to run a research facility in this field or head up university courses. Having a PhD may also help you achieve tenure at a college.

Another option would be to work for a technology company. Organizations that build systems, develop software, or work toward greater tech integration need experts who are the best of the best. A number of organizations could be eager to have computer science PhDs join their teams.

Other companies need computer science experts as well. You may head up technology departments in organizations that use proprietary software, collect big data, depend on artificial intelligence systems, or run extensive networks.

Computer Science Careers & Salaries

Computer Science Careers & Salaries

Many people who enroll in computer science PhD programs have their sights set on academic careers in this area of study. You may also put your knowledge into practice with a job in the field that’s focused on computers and technology.

As a computer science researcher working in a computer science lab, you may develop new theories or technologies that will influence how computing is done for years to come.

Another job that might appeal to you is teaching computer science at the college level. Many universities prefer to hire faculty members with terminal degrees, especially for full-time, tenured positions. As a professor, you might have opportunities to both teach and conduct research.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary in the computer and information technology sector is $88,240.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer and Information Systems Managers $146,360
Computer and Information Research Scientists $122,840
Computer Network Architects $112,690
Software Developers $107,510
Information Security Analysts $99,730
Database Administrators $93,750
Computer Systems Analysts $90,920
Computer Programmers $86,550
Postsecondary Computer Science Teachers $85,180
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $83,510

With a PhD in Computer Science, you may qualify to head up computing departments in various organizations.

Software and technology companies rely on having experts who can develop new products or enhance current offerings. Other organizations need computer professionals as well. You might ensure network security, develop proprietary databases, or build networks.

Companies also need managers who can oversee entire teams of technology professionals. Managers are often called in for problems that no one else can solve, so your doctoral-level knowledge might give you an advantage in such leadership roles.

Plus, your research and analytical skills may equip you to make critical decisions about the future of your department or organization. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in computers and technology are expected to grow at an 11% rate through 2029.

Computer Science Doctoral Curriculum

Computer Systems Analyst working in her office

In online computer science PhD programs, you can explore topics of interest to you at great length. You may be able to build a curriculum that contributes to your professional and research goals. The following are examples of the types of classes you may take:

  • Advanced Software Engineering: You may explore how the principles of software engineering have shaped other experts’ work and then begin to develop your own engineering projects.
  • Analytical Tools: This course will introduce you to advanced applications that can help you make the most of data that you organize and evaluate.
  • Artificial Intelligence Systems: A career in artificial intelligence can benefit from a class that introduces you to the latest research in this field and helps you understand the theories that govern AI practice.
  • Big Data Analytics: This course can help you become an expert at handling enormous data sets and drawing valuable meaning from them.
  • Computer Network Systems: An advanced course in networking will prepare you to troubleshoot complex problems and develop new methods for improved network efficiency.
  • Database Theory and Practice: In a doctoral database class, you’ll explore topics like semantics, transactions, and systems of organizations.
  • Digital Security: This class will help prepare you to guard data and networks against even the most sinister threats.
  • Ethics in Data Management: You may wrestle with challenging issues as you discuss laws and matters of integrity that are related to data management, networking, and computer research.
  • Programming Theory: This course will dive deep into advanced topics in programming languages, such as semantics, concurrency, and type theory.
  • Research Methods: You may take multiple courses about designing a research project, carrying out a study, and preparing your findings for presentation.

Before completing an online PhD computer science program, you will probably prepare and present a dissertation. You might work on this intensive research project over several years.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Computer Science student studying online

Doctoral programs can be competitive. Your admissions materials are meant to showcase the strengths that you’ll bring to the program.

  • Personal statement: You’ll often write an explanation of what you’d like to accomplish through the program.
  • Resume: An outline of your work history will show what sort of professional experience you’ll bring to your studies.
  • Transcripts: Most schools will want to see a record of your masters studies, but some programs accept promising students who hold only a bachelors degree.

Some schools request GRE scores for their graduate programs. This isn’t a universal requirement, though, and some programs allow applicants to request a waiver.

Accreditation

A PhD is a highly respected degree when it comes from an accredited college. Regional accreditation serves as a mark of distinction. It confirms that students graduate with sufficient knowledge of their subject areas and are prepared to enter the workforce.

By attending an accredited program, your credits will more likely transfer to other schools if you need to switch programs. Hiring committees are also more inclined to respect and extend job offers to accredited degrees. Information on accredited schools is available from the US Department of Education.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Computer Science Financial Aid

Paying for a doctorate out of pocket might be a challenge, but financial aid might help make this an attainable goal. Some colleges offer partial or complete rides to their doctoral students. In exchange for this assistance, you may need to teach classes or contribute to others’ research projects.

Additional assistance may be available through government programs at the federal or state level. To find out whether you qualify for grants or loans, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Private organizations might contribute to your education through scholarships or fellowships. These programs usually have only a handful of recipients, so you may consider highlighting your unique strengths on your applications.

You might be able to get help from work as well. Some employers offer tuition assistance to team members who want to enhance their professional knowledge.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Computer Science?

Software developer working on her computer

Earning a PhD in Computer Science may be a way for you to secure a spot in computer science academia. Once you have this degree, you may be able to get a full-time position as part of a university’s faculty, or you may be qualified to run a research facility that works on new computing developments.

With a PhD, you may also make significant contributions to the practical use of computers and technology in a variety of organizations. Potential job titles include computer systems manager, software developer, information security analyst, and computer network architect.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Computer Science Online?

Database Administrators working together

The total length of your PhD program will depend on a variety of factors. Whether you enroll full-time or part-time and whether you move through classes on a set schedule or at your own pace can affect how long it will take you to earn your degree.

Even still, it’s common for doctoral programs to take 3 to 5 years to complete. Some of that time will be spent on coursework, but much of it may also be dedicated to your dissertation efforts.

Some schools set a maximum amount of time that you should be enrolled. Some set the limit to around 8 years, but this may vary from school to school.

Is a PhD in Computer Science Worth It?

Computer and Information Research Scientists working together

Yes, a PhD in Computer Science is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $88,240 and 11% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), a degree in computer science can help you further your career in this technology field.

Common computer science careers include computer and information research scientist, computer network architect, postsecondary computer science teacher, software developer, and computer and information systems manager.

Whether you’re interested in academic or hands-on roles, a PhD may qualify you for higher-paying positions and take you to the top of the computer science field. You’ll explore cutting-edge research and contribute your own body of work to this dynamic sector.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Computer Science Degree Programs

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer computer science phd degree online.

#1  Auburn University

Auburn University

Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#2  Capella University

Capella University

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#3  Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middles States Association of Colleges and Schools.

#4  Clarkson University

Clarkson University

Clarkson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#5  Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#6  Columbia University

Columbia University

Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#7  Dakota State University

Dakota State University

Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#9  Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#10  Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#11  Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#12  Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#13  Northcentral University

Northcentral University

Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

#14  Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University

NSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#15  Syracuse University

Syracuse University

Syracuse University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#16  University of Arkansas – Little Rock

University of Arkansas Little Rock

UA Little Rock is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#17  University of Idaho

University of Idaho

The University of Idaho is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#18  University of North Texas

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#19  University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#20  University of Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#21  University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#22  University of Southern California

University of Southern California

USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#23  University of Utah

University of Utah

The University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#24  Walden University

Walden University

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#25  Wright State University

Wright State University

Wright State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Computer Science Doctorate Online

Getting Computer Science Doctorate Online

Through online doctoral study, you may explore computing topics, invest your efforts in an area of interest, and develop original computer science research. At the end of your program, you’ll hold a PhD in Computer Science, which is a degree at the very top of this field.

Having a doctorate may qualify you for advanced research, teaching, or management roles. You may contribute to important technological developments that improve how data, artificial intelligence, or programming languages are used.

For your chance to earn a PhD in Computer Science, you may consider which accredited online program would be the best fit for your learning style and research interests.

James Chen
WRITTEN BY
James Chen