PhD Degree Programs in CIS

CIS stands for computer and information science. Learn about earning a doctoral degree in this field and online program options. Check out some common courses you would take, and review the outlook and salary info for graduate-level jobs in CIS. Schools offering Business Information Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How can I Earn A Ph.D. In Computer and Information Science (CIS)?

Many colleges and universities offer doctoral degree programs in CIS. These are researched-based programs, meaning you will spend most of your time conducting independent study rather than sitting in a classroom. To qualify for a Ph.D. program in CIS, you will need to have completed a master's degree program in computer science. Many schools will also require you to have additional advanced knowledge in a specific area of CIS, such as operating systems or database management.

Program PrerequisitesLower-level degree, such as a master's in computer science, and advanced knowledge in an area of CIS
Online AvailabilityFully online doctoral programs not available because of research and dissertation requirements; some preparatory courses may be available
Specialized TracksInformation systems, artificial intelligence, software systems
Job Outlook (2016-2026)19% (for computer and information research scientists)
Median Annual Salary (2018)$118,370 (for computer and information research scientists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Complete This Program Online?

Typically, you will not find any Ph.D. programs in CIS that can be completed entirely over the Internet. There are some schools that offer graduate-level online courses in computer science, but the majority of a Ph.D. program will require you to conduct research and work with your dissertation advisor. If you are looking to take some preparatory courses online before you enroll in a Ph.D. program, you will need a reliable Internet connection and an updated browser to complete your coursework.

What Is The Curriculum Like?

Although you will be spending the majority of your time engaged in research and writing your dissertation, there are a handful of advanced courses you will need to take as part of your program. Some schools may also require you to choose an established track or specific course of study. These tracks may include artificial intelligence, information systems or software systems. Courses you are likely to find in a Ph.D. program include:

  • Programming languages and techniques
  • User interface design
  • Digital system design
  • Computer architecture
  • Theory of computation

Once you complete these courses, you will work with a dissertation advisor to focus your research and work towards completing your dissertation. Many schools will also require you to pass a final exam to demonstrate your overall competency and advanced knowledge of CIS.

What Can I Do With A Ph.D. In CIS?

A doctoral degree in CIS will qualify you to work in research positions or teach at the university level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information research scientists earned a median annual salary of $118,370 in May 2018 ( The BLS also projected that professional opportunities for these positions would grow by about 19% between 2016 and 2026.

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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