The tech industry can be quite competitive, so if you’re looking to advance your career, you might consider going for a part time PhD in Computer Science.
A part-time program may allow you to earn your doctorate from the comfort of your own home and according to your own schedule.
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With a doctorate in computer science, you may advance your current career or even begin a career in research or academia.
Part Time PhD in Computer Science Programs
Computer science is a wide-ranging field with many specialties and sub-specialties. If you’re skilled with hardware, for example, you may learn how to build systems and system components from scratch.
If you’re a whiz with numbers, you may study algorithms, data analytics, and operating system structures. As a PhD student, it’s often expected that you’ll already have some kind of background in your chosen field of study.
Most doctoral programs in computer science may require you to have experience with computers, data, networks, and other kinds of associated technology. Depending on your school, though, you might not need to have a concentration just yet.
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Common specializations for doctorate-level computer science studies include software engineering, machine learning, information technology, computational biology, algorithms and optimization, human and computer interaction, and even robotics.
If you’re not able or not wanting to study full-time, you may consider enrolling in a part-time PhD program. These have more flexible schedules that may allow you to study while also juggling other work or family responsibilities.
Online programs may offer even more flexibility when it comes to schedules and attending part-time. Some online PhD programs have start dates throughout the year for students interested in attending graduate school part time.
Computer Science Careers & Salaries
The average salary for the computer science field is $91,250 per year, which is more than double the national average of $41,950 per year for all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics). A PhD in this field may also allow you to receive a higher starting salary.
The field of computer and information technology is on the rise as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 531,200 new jobs will be added to the industry in the next decade, and this represents an 11% growth rate.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$151,150|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$126,830|
|Computer Network Architects||$116,780|
|Information Security Analysts||$103,590|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$93,730|
|Postsecondary Computer Science Teachers||$85,540|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$84,810|
As you can see, many computer science jobs have six-figure paydays. Wages can be even higher when you look at full salary ranges and not just averages.
With computer and information systems managers, for example, the average salary is $151,150 per year, but the full salary range is from $90,430 to more than $208,000 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Computer Science Doctorate Curriculum
Generally speaking, part-time PhD programs in computer science follow the same curricula as full-time ones. They just require fewer credits per semester, or they allow you to spread out the work through multiple terms and projects.
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While every school is different, here are a few courses that you may see in computer science Ph.D. programs:
- Machine Architecture and Organization: These courses will teach you the infrastructure of computers, including hardware and software.
- Logical and Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science: Some universities will require math, logic, or statistics courses to complement subjects like data compression or network traffic modeling.
- Algorithms and Data Structures: These are some of the core tenets of computer science, so if you aren’t already familiar with things like heaps, lists, queues, stacks, graph traversals, and binary search trees, data courses can teach you the basics.
- Operating Systems: At the doctorate level, classes in operating systems usually cover high-level concepts, such as interprocess communication and technical memory management.
- Artificial Intelligence and Applications: While frequently offered as its own specialty, artificial intelligence can also be a useful tool in many computer science fields.
- Information Security: There’s a growing demand for privacy and confidentiality in data-driven businesses, and classes in information security can teach you how to deliver it.
- Programming Languages: These courses cover how to speak the various languages of computers, including procedural, functional, object-oriented, and scripting languages.
- Data Analytics: Another heavy hitter in computer science, data analytics classes can cover a wide range of topics focused on tracking, mining, organizing, and analyzing data.
- Software Development: Depending on your school, software development classes might cover everything from testing and troubleshooting works in progress to financing and marketing the finished product.
- Dissertation or Thesis: Even part-time doctoral programs will often require a dissertation or thesis, and it might involve several semesters for planning, writing, researching, and defending it.
If you’ll be taking online classes, you can ask the school about any face-to-face requirements via practicums or research projects. You might be allowed to satisfy these requirements locally, but this will depend on the program.
Admission requirements for a part-time Ph.D. are generally the same as their full-time counterparts:
- Transcripts. All PhD programs will require a bachelor’s degree, and some might require a master’s.
- Test scores. Many grad schools will want GRE or GMAT scores from the last 5 years. A growing number of colleges, though, are becoming test-optional, and some will also accept the GRE General Test at Home.
- Resume or CV. This is where you include your work history and any relevant researching or publishing that you’ve done in your field.
- Application. Applications generally ask for personal information, financial information, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
Some universities have part-time enrollment requirements, so if you can only take a few credits per semester, you may want to make sure that you’re meeting the required amount.
Also, if your Ph.D. program requires a masters in the field before being admitted, a number of universities also offer a part time masters in computer science.
Regional accreditation is how colleges prove that they’re meeting the standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Education and organizations like the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Only accredited colleges are allowed to receive federal financial aid like FAFSA. It’s also a requirement of many scholarship programs and student loan agencies. If you ever want to transfer schools and take your credits with you, it’s critical that both schools recognize each other as accredited institutions of learning.
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All things considered, you may want to look up your college on CHEA’s website to verify that it’s accredited.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
At the PhD level, a lot of financial aid is reserved for full-time students, including the coveted “fully funded” PhD. That said, there are still financial aid options for part-time PhD students who qualify.
You can look into fellowships and assistantships without any enrollment requirements. You can also apply for grants, loans, scholarships, and tuition reimbursement programs that are open to all types of doctoral students.
You can start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some loans, including the Graduate PLUS Loan, are meant specifically for graduate students. Having a FAFSA on file may also be a requirement of some programs and scholarships to demonstrate financial need.
What Can You Do with a PhD in Computer Science?
There are many potential career paths you may choose from once you complete a PhD computer science program.
You may work with hardware or software, or you may specialize in databases, networks, servers, robotics, or information systems. Common careers include everything from programmers and web developers to information security analysts and artificial intelligence engineers.
With a PhD, you may also qualify for a teaching position at the postsecondary level or for a research position.
How Much Money Does a PhD in Computer Science Make?
One of the benefits of earning a Ph.D. in Computer Science is being able to move into a higher income bracket. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for computer and information technology occupations is $91,250 per year.
The most lucrative jobs start at six figures, including computer and information systems managers ($151,150), computer and information research scientists ($126,830), and computer network architects ($116,780).
These salaries are only averages, though. For example, the top-earning computer systems managers clear $208,000 per year. This is more than two times the amount of the lowest-earning managers, who earn around $90,430 per year.
Many of the positions in this field only require a bachelors or masters, so you may receive a higher starting salary with a doctorate.
How Long Does a Part Time PhD in Computer Science Take?
When attending full-time, a PhD usually takes around 3 to 5 years to complete. If you’re attending part-time, you’ll likely need longer.
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Your personal timeline may depend on how many credits you’re taking per semester and whether or not you’re participating in research projects and summer terms. In general, part-time PhD students may require anywhere from 5 to 8 years to earn their degree, but this is just an average.
Is Getting a PhD in Computer Science Worth It?
Yes, getting a PhD in Computer Science is worth it for many professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 11% job growth in computer and information technology occupations over the next 10 years.
Common computer science careers in this field include programmer, software engineer, computer scientist, database administrator, and computer network architect.
Universities Offering Online Part-Time PhD in Computer Science Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer part time degree programs.
Auburn University’s PhD in Computer Science and Software Engineering program furnishes students with the necessary skills for this highly competitive industry.
Students in this program will engage in robust research to complete a required dissertation that reflects knowledge and understanding of industry practices. AU accepts full time and part time students.
Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Dakota State University’s groundbreaking PhD in Computer Science helps students find new ways to use and understand technological machines, data management, software, and infrastructure.
Practical and analytical experiences allow full time and part time students to personalize their learning to meet their personal and professional goals. Innovative research is encouraged at DSU.
Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students enrolled in Pennsylvania State University’s Doctorate in Computer Science and Engineering program can expect to gain the necessary knowledge to become industry leaders in their field.
The program is designed to immerse students in related academic research and to test the boundaries of their comprehensive skills and problem-solving capabilities.
The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The PhD in Computer Science program offered at the University of California – Berkeley comprises original research and excellent academic curricula to produce experts in the field of technology.
With alumni worldwide, UCB connects full time and part time students to a network of industry professionals to guide them as they move forward in the degree process.
UC Berkeley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges.
Earning a Doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Missouri prepares students to gain industry-related careers in various fields, such as teaching, research, and a growing number of industry trades.
Full time and part time scholars study curricula rich in research, algorithms, methodology, networking, security, and many other technological topics.
The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting a Part Time PhD in Computer Science Online
Is computer science a good major? Computer science is a lucrative, fast-growing field, and an advanced degree may open a lot of doors in terms of career potential.
There are many top online computer science degrees offered part-time, so you don’t have to be a full-time student to get a PhD. If you choose a program that’s fully or partially online, you may even earn your doctorate from the comfort of your own home and according to your own schedule.
If you’re ready to advance in your professional life, you may want to explore various accredited universities to see what they have to offer to aspiring postgrads.