PhD Programs in Computer Programming

Continue reading to see how a doctoral degree in computer science can provide you with advanced training in computer programming and unlock employment opportunities in research, higher education instruction or work in the computer science industry. See common prerequisites and learn about career options, too. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Would I Study for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science?

As with most doctoral programs, there is a strong focus on original research for projects or your dissertation. Most Ph.D. computer science programs allow you to create your own plan of study based on your career goals through courses in programming languages, software engineering, information security, operating systems, database management, cryptography and artificial intelligence. Many programs require you to demonstrate your knowledge on a comprehensive examination at the conclusion of the program.

Common Courses Programming languages, software engineering, information security, operating systems, and database management
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree and GRE scores; additional coursework may necessary without a master's degree
Online Availability PhD programs are available online
Job Outlook -8% (for computer programmers in 2014)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Prerequisites?

In order to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, you must first hold a bachelor's degree. Background knowledge in computer sciences, programming and mathematics is recommended. A master's degree is not a prerequisite, but you may have to take additional courses prior to beginning your Ph.D. coursework if you don't have a master's degree. Most programs require you to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). International students must also have a qualifying score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

How Do I Find Online Programs?

There are some online doctoral programs in computer science; however, master's degree programs in computer science are more widely available. These programs are ideal if you are balancing personal and work commitments, making it difficult to get to campus for classes. Coursework may serve as a prerequisite for a Ph.D. computer science program. Online instructors often communicate using e-mail, course websites, message boards and online lectures. Some programs require you to attend an occasional on-campus meeting.

What Career Opportunities Exist with This Degree?

As a computer programmer, you write programs using a series of commands, coded in an appropriate programming language, such as Python or C++. Some coding is now automated through the use of computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools. You may also fix programs, as well as make changes and updates as necessary. With a Ph.D. in computer science, you may take on some of the duties of a software engineer, such as designing programs and assessing the needs of computer users and programs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that careers in computer programming will decrease by eight percent between 2014 and 2024 ( The BLS noted that programming has become easier and many users do this on their own rather than hiring programmers, which may account for the decline. Computer programming jobs have also been outsourced to cheaper, overseas companies. According to the BLS, computer programmers earned a median annual income of $77,550 in 2014, while those working in software publishing earned $99,580 in the same year.

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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