Online PhD Degree Programs in Computer Science

Doctoral degree programs in computer science aren't typically offered in a fully online format. Learn about on-campus Ph.D. programs in this field, and review the prerequisites for enrollment. Get info on the coursework for doctoral students. Check the job outlook and salary potential for computer scientists. Schools offering Computer Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science Online?

Doctoral degree programs in computer science are rarely offered online because they are often rigorous and sometimes require direct use of advanced equipment; they also demand interactive collaboration with classmates and faculty to complete projects. Some programs may offer courses online, but most classroom sessions are hosted on-campus.

Online AvailabilityPrograms rarely offered fully online because of the need to use advanced equipment and collaborate with classmates
Program OverviewDelve into a specific problem, possibly in robotics or virtual reality, in order to complete a dissertation
PrerequisitesBachelor's or master's degree in a related field, research and teaching experience
Common TopicsMost of the program is spent on research and teaching; curriculum may include topics such as computer architecture, performance modeling and animation
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 11% for computer and information research scientists*
Median Salary (2014)$108,360 for computer and information research scientists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Learn in an On-Campus Program?

Ph.D. programs in this field prepare you to complete advanced research in areas related to computer science. They focus heavily on research and emphasize research techniques. Instead of learning about all computer science fields or having a specialization, you delve deeply into a specific problem, which becomes the subject of your dissertation. You might approach issues in hardware architecture, software engineering, robotics or virtual reality. For this reason, courses of study largely depend on your interest. However, you need advanced computer, mathematical and statistical knowledge for any curriculum. You may also need to acquire knowledge in physics, electronics, programming or engineering if your dissertation demands it.

What Are the Educational Prerequisites?

A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for admission consideration. Some degree programs require a master's degree in computer science or a related field, such as engineering, math or programming. You may also need to submit GRE scores, college transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Because earning a Ph.D. usually requires some research and teaching units, admissions committees commonly ask that you have some experience in those fields.

What Classes Can I Take?

Often, there are few classes in Ph.D. in Computer Science programs; instead, a larger portion of time is devoted to research, projects and teaching. However, the following topics might appear in the curriculum:

  • Java programming
  • Web application development
  • Computer architecture
  • Model checking
  • Computational geometry
  • Performance modeling
  • Animation

What Is My Potential Career Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the employment rate for computer and information research scientists to increase by 11% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average for all national occupations. Growth prospects remain high because of the demand for highly skilled workers in this field. In 2014, the BLS showed that the median annual salary for computer scientists was $108,360 (

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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