The field of computer science has an immense predicted growth over the next few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science and information technology jobs will see a 13 percent employment growth by 2026. The best online PhD in Computer Science can help you learn the most in-demand tech skills needed to get one of these lucrative jobs.
The growing e-learning environment makes it now possible to earn a computer science PhD from the comfort of your home. An online PhD in Computer Science is highly flexible and will give you the same competitive edge as an in-person PhD. In this guide, we’ve put together a detailed list of the best online computer science PhD programs and best computer science jobs for PhD holders.
Can You Get a PhD in Computer Science Online?
Yes, you can get a PhD in Computer Science online. Many universities offer a 100 percent online program for computer science doctoral degree students interested in distance learning education. These doctoral programs are flexible and can be customized to your career goals. This flexibility lets online students work while they study, making them great for upskilling computer science professionals.
Most online computer science programs require students to complete a required number of credit hours. Doctoral students can specialize in artificial intelligence, machine learning, database management, or project management, depending on the program they’ve enrolled in and the subject of their doctoral dissertation.
Is an Online PhD Respected?
Yes, an online PhD is respected. Online learning is gaining popularity and, according to Franklin University, there are now about 1,000 online doctorate programs in the country. A respected online PhD degree has been accredited by external agencies recognized by the US Department of Education, meaning it’s been thoroughly reviewed and maintains high quality standards.
Online doctoral programs are an excellent, affordable option for working professionals who can’t attend on campus classes. These programs are as intensive as any traditional doctoral program and students get access to various online resources, guides, and career counseling services. Employers have also started recognizing online degrees, making them even more valuable.
What Is the Best Online PhD Program in Computer Science?
The best online PhD program in computer science is offered by the University of California, Berkeley. The reason it’s the best is the extremely high quality of education it provides as well as the prestige that comes with having attended this university. This graduate program is open to both bachelor’s and master’s graduates. Doctoral students can complete it in three to six years.
Why the University of California, Berkeley Has the Best Online PhD Program in Computer Science
The University of California, Berkeley has the best online PhD program in computer science because it offers ten specializations. Open to both bachelor’s and master’s graduates, UC Berkeley also offers two online options covering a wide range of subjects in electrical and computer engineering.
This graduate program focuses on providing both research and teaching experience. According to US News and World Report, UC Berkeley is not only one of the best national universities but is also the fourth-best university in the world and has excellent faculty and online resources for all of its students. If you can pass the application process, there is no better graduate program you could attend.
Best Online Master’s Degrees
Online PhD in Computer Science Admission Requirements
The admission requirements for an online PhD in Computer Science are different from school to school, but commonly require having a master’s degree from an accredited institution, work experience, and letters of recommendation. Most schools require students to submit their official transcripts, resumes, and a statement of purpose indicating their interest in the program.
Each program has its own admission process and many universities only consider applications from students who’ve scored a minimum college GPA of 3.0. Others require students to have a solid background in computer science. Students usually need to send GRE scores, although some universities have waived this requirement due to the pandemic.
Online PhD in Computer Science Admission Requirements
- A Master’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field from an accredited institution
- Relevant work experience
- A minimum college GPA of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0
- A resume
- Letters of recommendation
- A personal essay or statement of purpose
Best Online PhDs in Computer Science: Top Degree Program Details
|Auburn University||PhD in Computer Science and Software Engineering||4 years|
|Capella University||Phd in Information Technology||4 years|
|Dakota State University||Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems||Up to 7 years|
|Indiana University||PhD in Computer Science||5 years|
|Mississippi State University||PhD in Computer Science||N/A|
|Northcentral University||PhD in Computer Science||4 years|
|University of California, Berkeley||Phd in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences||3-6 years|
|University of North Dakota||PhD in Computer Science||4-5 years|
|University Of South Carolina||PhD in Computer Science||N/A|
|Wright State University||PhD in Computer Science and Engineering||N/A|
Best Online PhDs in Computer Science: Top University Programs to Get a PhD in Computer Science Online
Finding the right online PhD program in computer science can be challenging. The program should align with your career goals and help you excel. You should also need to be able to afford the program. To help you begin your school search, we’ve listed our picks of the best online PhDs in Computer Science.
Online Computer Science PhD Graduation Rates: How Hard Is It to Complete an Online PhD Program in Computer Science?
It is extremely hard to complete an online PhD in Computer Science. According to a recent study, almost half of all students don’t graduate from their online PhD programs. A computer science PhD requires extensive independent study and is characterized by extended program length, intensive research, and complex courses.
In fact, the total number of doctoral candidates who’ve earned a PhD in Computer Science is low. According to Statista, only 2414 computer and information science PhD candidates graduated in 2019-20, further demonstrating that earning your doctorate online is challenging.
How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Computer Science Online?
It takes about three to seven years to get a PhD in Computer Science online, depending on the university and its graduation requirements. Factors like the school’s PhD timeline, dissertation process, and policies can impact the amount of time it takes for you to complete your PhD. According to Statista, the average time to earn a PhD is 7.5 years.
Many students choose to enroll in an online degree program because of the increased flexibility, as many of them can be customized according to your needs. Online students can more easily work while they earn their PhD, which can add to the time it takes to complete. That being said, this also allows you to build work experience and a PhD degree. Most universities set a cap on the amount of time you get to finish PhD, but you can always apply to extend your PhD timeline.
How Hard Is an Online Doctorate in Computer Science?
An online PhD in Computer Science is very hard. A PhD is an advanced degree where you develop a deep and specialized body of knowledge. Students are required to complete 60-70 credits of advanced courses on top of conducting independent research for their dissertation and passing comprehensive examinations.
While online PhDs are more flexible than on-campus programs, doctoral students still have to spend a lot of time reading online resources and doing laboratory work. Many students have to dedicate up to 50 hours a week to their PhD program to finish their work in a timely manner.
Before starting their dissertation, students have to pass a qualifying exam and later a preliminary exam. These comprehensive examinations are used by the teaching staff at colleges and universities to make sure that students can handle the work that comes with completing their dissertations.
Best PhD Programs
What Courses Are in an Online Computer Science PhD Program?
The courses in an online PhD in Computer Science include computer programming, algorithm design, artificial intelligence, network architecture and security, and technology management. Computer science is an extremely vast field pertinent to many industries, meaning that every PhD degree will have its own unique curriculum and graduate courses.
During your school search, you should check each program’s core courses, elective courses, and thesis courses to find the one that is most in line with your interests. You can also talk to the admission counselor to help you determine if their PhD program fits you. Below are some of the most common areas of study you’ll encounter in a PhD program in this field.
Main Areas of Study in a Computer Science PhD Program
- Machine learning.
- Artificial intelligence.
- Information management.
- Database management.
- Operating systems.
- Network architecture.
How Much Does Getting an Online Computer Science PhD Cost?
On average, it costs $19,314 per year to get a PhD in Computer Science according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Keep in mind that the average tuition at a public research institution will be significantly lower than the tuition fees of a private research institution.
Some schools also charge non-billable expenses like technology fees or e-library fees from students studying online programs. That being said, an online PhD or even a hybrid program will typically be a lot cheaper than a fully on-campus PhD program in computer science.
How to Pay for an Online PhD Program in Computer Science
You can pay for an online PhD program in computer science by applying for financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Prospective students are eligible to apply for several fully-funded scholarships. Several universities offer a tuition minimum support which allows students to get a PhD degree without having to pay the tuition.
Most universities also offer some apprenticeships or hire students to assist professors in conducting research work. Students can also apply for paid teaching assistantships to lower their tuition rates.
Students should also submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. The federal government offers much financial aid to help talented students. Most universities recommend students fill out their FAFSA application during their admission process.
If you are a working professional, you can pay for your online PhD program through your salary or by getting your employer to fund your higher education. Online PhD programs are highly flexible and allow their students to design their programs so they can work side-by-side. Getting a bank loan is also another option.
How to Get an Online PhD for Free
You cannot get an online PhD in Computer Science for free. PhD programs are advanced degree programs that use a university’s top-of-the-line research facilities. That said, some universities offer minimum tuition support to PhD students.
The best way to reduce your tuition is to apply for scholarships, fellowships, and grant options provided by your university. While some universities, like Brown University and Rhode Island University, offer fully-funded PhD programs in computer science, they are rare and only for on-campus programs, and have extremely selective application processes.
What Is the Most Affordable Online PhD in Computer Science Degree Program?
The most affordable online PhD degree program is PhD in Computer Science offered by the University of Utah. This university’s tuition fees sit at around $300.58 per credit before other expenses like technology fees and graduation fees. Even when considering additional fees, the tuition for this school is significantly less expensive than that of UC Berkeley, the most expensive on our list.
Most Affordable Online PhD Programs in Computer Science: In Brief
|University of Utah||PhD in Computer Science||$300.58 per credit hour|
|Aspen University||PhD in Computer Science||$450 per credit|
|Mississippi State University||PhD in Computer Science||$539 per credit|
|Dakota State University||PhD in Information Systems||$580.60 per credit|
|Northcentral University||Online Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Technology Management||$1,111 per credit|
Why You Should Get an Online PhD in Computer Science
You should get an online PhD in Computer Science because it is a growing field with a wide variety of promising career opportunities. With a PhD, you can get access to various high-paying job positions thanks to your expertise in a specialized topic and in-demand tech skills.
A PhD will also help you build problem-solving skills and teach you how to create innovative tech solutions. Additionally, having a doctorate is an excellent way to demonstrate your skills to potential employers, allowing you to pursue a career as a computer scientist and create advanced technology that can improve the lives of people around the world.
Top Reasons for Getting a PhD in Computer Science
- Advanced skills. Computer science is the fastest-growing field in the world. Thanks to the highly advanced skillset provided by a PhD, PhD grads are eligible for senior-level positions. Additionally, PhDs are research-based programs that teach students how to conduct research and develop new skills which is extremely attractive to employers.
- Higher chances of getting a high-paying job. The more advanced your degree is, the more you are likely to be considered for a high-paying job. Earning a doctorate makes you eligible for managerial and leadership roles and provides you with a higher earning potential than other degrees.
- Wide range of Career Opportunities. Students with a PhD can explore a wide variety of career opportunities unavailable to bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates. In this field, there are many job opportunities that require a PhD.
- Gain specialization and build expertise. A PhD program allows students to specialize and understand a particular subject in-depth. For instance, you can gain expertise in cyber security, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or technology management through a PhD program.
Best Master’s Degree Programs
What Is the Difference Between an On-Campus Computer Science PhD and an Online PhD in Computer Science?
The primary difference between an online and on-campus computer science PhD is the delivery format. Students must attend in-person classes and follow a strict schedule when attending an on-campus PhD. In contrast, students learning online watch pre-recorded or live lectures from wherever they have access to the Internet.
It is in a university’s best interest to ensure that online and on-campus programs offer similar learning and other student facilities. That being said, not all degrees are suitable for everyone. Choosing whether to attend online or on-campus can be challenging. Below are some factors that can help you decide which type of program is better for you.
Online PhD vs On-Campus PhD: Key Differences
- Personalization. Online PhDs are often designed for working professionals and allow students to more easily customize their schedules to their needs. On-Campus PhDs follow a more strict structure.
- End Goal. The student’s focus during an online PhD is to work on independent research. In contrast, an on-campus PhD allows students to work on more collaborative innovative research projects to improve the field of computer science.
- Learning Format. In an online PhD, students can complete the program without ever having to visit the campus. Contrary to this, the delivery of coursework for on-campus PhD programs is done entirely through in-person lectures and labs.
- Cost of Attendance. Online PhDs are often cheaper than on-campus PhDs as students use fewer of the school’s facilities. Students also incur fewer costs indirectly related to their studies like transportation or student housing.
How to Get a PhD in Computer Science Online: A Step-by-Step Guide
To get a PhD in Computer Science online, you first need to find and apply to a program that fits your educational and career goals. The next step is to complete the degree completion requirements set by the university. These requirements include earning a specific number of credits from courses and conducting research for your dissertation project before submitting it.
Online PhD in Computer Science Salary and Job Outlook
According to Payscale, a computer science PhD holder has a median salary of $131,000. An online PhD can make you eligible for jobs that require intensive research and work experience. You could work in academia or as a research scientist, software engineer, or machine learning expert.
While PhD graduates usually work in the tech industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, they can also work in a wide variety of other industries. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science and information technology jobs will witness a growth of 13 percent by 2030.
What Can You Do With an Online Doctorate in Computer Science?
With an online doctorate in computer science, you can get a high-paying tech job as an IT manager, computer research scientist, machine learning engineering, or a DevOps Engineer. You could also become a professor or specialize in machine learning or artificial intelligence. You’ll need to be able to show your original research when applying for any of these positions.
We’ve prepared a list of the best-paying jobs in the tech industry to help you start your research about career outcomes. These mid-senior-level positions usually require higher education, such as a doctoral degree, and a significant amount of work experience.
Best Jobs with a PhD in Computer Science
- Computer and information systems manager
- Computer and information research scientist
- Computer hardware engineer
- Computer network architects
- Software developer
Potential Careers With a Computer Science Degree
What Is the Average Salary for an Online PhD Holder in Computer Science?
The average salary for a PhD in Computer Science is $133,000, according to Payscale. Computer science is a growing field in which PhD holders are eligible for just about any position relevant to their specialization. Your actual annual salary will depend on your job title, location, employer, and skillset.
Highest-Paying Computer Science Jobs for PhD Grads
|Online Computer Science Jobs PhD Jobs||Average Salary|
|Computer and Information Systems Manager||$159,010|
|Computer and Information Research Scientist||$131,490|
|Computer Hardware Engineer||$128,170|
|Computer Network Architect||$120,520|
Best Computer Science Jobs for Online PhD Holders
The best computer science jobs for online PhD holders make full use of the advanced skills and experience you’ll have developed during your online PhD program. Your body of knowledge will qualify you for leadership roles and managerial positions across the tech industry. Below is a detailed list of best-paying jobs online computer science PhD holders can get after graduating.
Is It Worth It to Do a PhD in Computer Science Online?
Yes, it is worth it to do a PhD in Computer Science online. Getting a doctoral degree can open you up to various opportunities in the tech industry. You can learn advanced skills and gain expertise in machine learning, artificial intelligence, or network security. An online PhD can set you up for the best tech jobs.
Computer science is a booming career option. According to Statista, the number of tech workers is likely to reach 5.2 million in 2020 and 6 million by 2030. With a PhD, you can kickstart your career in tech. Keep in mind that a PhD is no piece of cake, so you can always consider other alternatives like coding bootcamp.
Additional Reading About Computer Science
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Online PhD in Computer Science FAQ
Yes, you can get a PhD in Computer Science online. Online doctoral programs are becoming more popular due to being highly flexible and customizable. When looking for an online PhD, you should only consider accredited online schools. Studying at an accredited university ensures that you will get a quality education.
Yes, a PhD in Computer Science is worth it. Computer science is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science and information technology jobs will witness a 13 percent growth by 2030. A PhD can help you learn advanced skills and get you a high-level position with a competitive salary.
A PhD in Computer Science is usually three to seven years long. Doctoral students must complete 60-70 credit hours to finish the graduate program. The program length depends on your chosen university. Some universities offer personalized programs that students can design according to their career goals.
Yes, a PhD in Computer Science is harder than an undergraduate and master’s degree program. However, with consistent hard work and dedication, you can gain a solid knowledge of computer science. You will also develop advanced skills and work on a research project.
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