Students usually pursue a doctoral degree in computer science in order to further their careers or to begin academic careers in computer science instruction. Graduates have the skills to help organizations to develop a software process improvement plan. They can design, test and implement software experiments. In addition, they have the skills to evaluate computer security systems and predict industry trends based on current data.
Often, a doctoral degree can be obtained fully online. However, some programs may require residencies. Admittance into some programs may require a bachelor's or master's degree and work experience in the field.
Doctorate in Computer Science
Computer science doctoral degree programs often can be completed entirely online, though some may integrate residency components. Distance learning programs in computer science utilize Web technologies like e-mail, videoconferencing and discussion boards to deliver coursework in topics like computer networking, data mining and software engineering. Doctoral programs may require students to complete upward of 60 credit hours.
Prerequisites and Background
Students pursuing an online doctoral degree in computer science usually have completed a relevant undergraduate or graduate degree. Most also have a background in computer science or mathematics, along with some work experience in this field.
Doctoral students complete classes in research methods and statistical analysis. Other common courses in an online distance learning doctoral program in computer science include the following:
- Integrated circuits and systems
- Machine learning
- Advanced algorithms
- Artificial intelligence
- Computer network systems
- Project management
Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation
After completing core and foundation courses, doctoral students may be required to pass a comprehensive examination before they can begin working on their dissertation research paper and defense. The dissertation project may account for approximately 12 credit hours. Though much of this work is completed independently, students usually maintain contact with an assigned mentor who can help them throughout the process.
The skills and knowledge gained in a doctoral program can help give students a competitive edge in the field of computer science. Some possible job titles for candidates holding a doctoral degree in computer science include:
- Computer and information research scientist
- Computer systems software engineer
- Computer applications engineer
- Computer systems analyst
- Database administrator
- Network systems analyst
The employment outlook for computer and information research scientists, a field for people holding a doctoral degree in computer science, is good. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field was projected to grow by 11% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the national average for all occupations.
Distance learning doctoral degree programs in computer science should be considered when students desire to expand their knowledge in the field and want to explore advanced positions or professorships. In addition to online coursework, students may need to complete a dissertation and participate in a residency.