Doctor of Computer Science: Degree Overview

Oct 21, 2019

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science programs strive to push students to the pinnacle of the computer science field. They focus on research and innovation within systems development and the ability to teach others complex computing-related concepts.

Essential Information

PhD programs emphasize advanced study in the field of computer science. Students choose research areas, from general computing theory to artificial intelligence to bioinformatics. Doctoral programs are highly selective. Students must possess bachelor's and/or master's degrees; submission of recommendation letters and GRE scores are also required. Academic achievement and a high GPA are beneficial for consideration. Most Ph.D. programs expect students to take both comprehensive and qualifying exams.

Ph.D. in Computer Science

Coursework and research culminate in a final dissertation, which involves substantial planning and investigation supported and critiqued by department faculty. These programs often take 4-5 years to complete. In addition to the extensive planning and research tied to doctoral programs, students may attend graduate courses and seminars pertaining to:

  • Computing theory
  • Programming
  • Systems security and artificial intelligence
  • Network systems analysis and database systems management
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Advanced computer architecture

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

After earning a Ph.D. in Computer Science, graduates may find work as computer and information research scientists or college professors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed computer scientists was expected to grow 16% from 2018-2028. Job growth for these professionals may result from increased cyber security and cloud computing needs. Employment of postsecondary teachers of most subjects was projected to increase 11% during the same period.

As of May 2018, computer and information research scientists earned a median annual salary of 118,370, reports the BLS. During this time, college-level computer science professors made a median annual salary of $82,220.

Students who have at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field may consider a Ph.D. program in computer science. A doctorate in this field will qualify students for a variety of computer scientist careers, as well as careers in postsecondary computer science education.

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