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If you have a passion for technology, a PhD in computer science online could be the key to the career of your dreams. But what if you don’t want to give up your existing job or sacrifice your personal commitments for the 4-7 years it takes to earn a doctorate? Online PhD computer science programs are the perfect solution, letting you study at your own pace and on your own schedule.
How do you pick out the top computer science PhD programs? Read on to discover the best universities offering online PhD computer science programs today.
Related: Best Master’s in Computer Science Programs
Best Online PhD Computer Science Programs
Dakota State University
Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems
DSU is designated a center of excellence for advanced studies by The Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. Its doctoral program in information systems prepares students for careers in research, education, or administration through qualitative design, quantitative research, theory, and practice in information science and software engineering.
- Specializations: Analytics, Security, Healthcare
- Duration: 3 to 7 years
- Credit hours: 72
- Tuition: $580.60 per credit hour
- Financial aid: Federal loan, work-study, and grants.
- Acceptance rate: 83.6%
- Location: Madison, South Dakota
Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (PhD-CS)
Northcentral University is a non-profit university primarily founded to offer online programs in higher education to working professionals. Their programs don’t follow a cohort system, instead offering one-on-one coaching. Their PhD computer science online program equips students with advanced knowledge in state-of-the-art technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Data Mining.
- Credit hours: 60
- Duration: 40 months
- Tuition: $1,094 per credit
- Financial aid: Scholarships, loans, grants, and veteran benefits
- Acceptance rate: 90%
- Location: San Diego, California / Scottsdale, Arizona
Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology (General IT)
Capella University is a higher education institution that emphasizes competency-based education and works with consulting industry experts to design its curriculum. Its computer science PhD online program will help you gain advanced knowledge in IT practice and ethical leadership strategies. Out of all the online PhD programs in computer science on this list, this one offers unique courses about business research design.
You can choose an area of focus such as network architecture and design or IT security, or focus on technology within a particular industry for your dissertation. The program allows you to transfer up to a maximum of 12 credits.
- Courses: Information technology strategic planning, testing, measurements, business research design, qualitative design & analysis.
- Credits: 75
- Tuition: $965 per credit
- Financial aid: Scholarships, military benefits
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Colorado Technical University
Doctor of Computer Science
Colorado Technical University is a non-profit institution that provides higher education options for students from all backgrounds using the possibilities of today’s advanced technologies and innovations. It has been awarded a range of honors and offers opportunities for lifelong learning. Its doctorate in computer science program is suitable for professionals working in the computer science industry, consultancy, and academia. You can choose between concentrations like Big Data Analytics and Cybersecurity & Information Assurance.
- Courses: Computer science & information systems, future innovation, and qualitative research methods.
- Credits: 100
- Duration: Minimum 3 years
- Tuition: $598 per credit hour
- Financial aid: Grants, scholarships, and military benefits
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Capitol Technical University
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science
Capitol University provides industry-focused education in various technology fields through its academic and industry experts. The core courses in its PhD in computer science include computer science research methodologies, computer science future demands, and computer science doctoral writing.
- Credits: 60
- Duration: Minimum 2 years
- Tuition: $933 per credit
- Financial aid: Military discounts and student loans
- Acceptance rate: 84.4%
- Location: Laurel, Maryland
University of North Dakota
Online Computer Science Ph.D.
The University of North Dakota’s online programs have the same curriculum, faculty, and semesters as on-campus programs, and let you earn identical qualifications as its on-campus programs. Its online PhD in computer science includes many courses on the latest technology that help prepare students with practical experience to solve real-world issues.
- Courses: Data engineering and management, AI/computational intelligence, and computer forensics.
- Credits: 60 (90 for bachelor’s degree holders)
- Duration: 4 to 5 years
- Tuition: $798.08 per credit
- Acceptance rate: 86.8%
- Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Ph.D. in Computer and Information Sciences
The University of Arkansas is a doctoral/research-intensive institution designated by the Carnegie Foundation and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its PhD in Computer and Information Sciences is an interdisciplinary program covering subjects from diverse computing fields.
- Tracks: Information quality or information science
- Credit hours: 75
- Tuition: $383 per credit hour
- Financial aid: Graduate assistantships, loans, and scholarships
- Acceptance rate: 56%
- Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Ph.D. in Computer Science
Clarkson University is a small university with strong links to reputed industry organizations that boasts a 97% placement rate. Its PhD in computer science is an interdisciplinary program that is jointly offered by the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science departments. The curriculum includes theory, practice, seminars, and a thesis.
- Course: Theory & algorithms, languages & software development, applications, computer systems & networks
- Credit hours: 36
- Duration: Maximum 7 years
- Tuition: $1,533 per credit hour
- Financial aid: Scholarships, loans, and graduate assistantships
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Location: Potsdam, New York
University of the Potomac
Doctor of Computer Science (DCS)
The University of the Potomac, previously known as Potomac College, offers various degrees in a range of sought-after disciplines, emphasizing technology in education. The university’s PhD program in computer science aims to help students develop their skills and become tomorrow’s leaders in research and development. You can transfer up to 36 credits out of the total of 60 in the program.
- Credits: 60
- Duration: 3 years minimum
- Tuition: $1,551 per 3 credits
- Financial aid: Loans, scholarships, grants, and federal work-study
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Location: Washington, DC; Falls Church, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois
Atlantic International University, School of Science and Engineering
Doctor of Computer Science (D.Sc)
Atlantic International University’s online programs are based on the philosophy that learning is individual and so are designed with a high degree of flexibility to meet every student’s needs. Its PhD in computer science allows students to build on their knowledge in computing and broaden their research interests.
- Courses: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Advanced operating systems, Design & analysis of VLSI
- Tuition: $5,750
- Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Online PhD Computer Science Requirements
The essential prerequisite for almost every PhD in computer science online is a master’s degree in computer science or a related field. Exact requirements vary between programs, but you’ll typically need to submit the following:
- Academic resume
- Letters of recommendation
- Academic transcripts
- A personal statement, research proposal, or both.
After gaining admission to the program, you’ll need to complete 3-7 years of studies. Usually, the coursework covers theory of advanced topics in computer science and associated disciplines. The final thing you’ll need to complete to earn your doctorate is a research-based dissertation.
How to Choose a Computer Science PhD Program
It can be difficult to choose between the best computer science PhD programs available today.
Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:
- Accreditation: Make sure the university or college is nationally or regionally accredited. This will mean that the program follows high standards and the certificate has value.
- Cost: Keep in mind that this may not only involve tuition, but also other fees.
- Curriculum: Consider the courses, specializations, and tracks offered.
- Career Prospects: Assess whether the program is geared toward career paths in research, academia, or practical roles, and how these match with your interests. Will the program allow you to meet your career objectives?
Related Reading: Top 10 Best PhD in Computer Science Programs
What Jobs Can You Get with a PhD in Computer Science?
With a PhD in computer science, you’ll be eligible for a range of senior-level roles in the sector.
Here are some of the most common jobs for individuals with a doctorate in computer science, with the annual median salary for each:
- Information Systems Manager ($85,093)
- Network Architect ($122,110)
- Database Administrator ($74,488)
- Professor, Computer Science ($89,106)
- IT Consultant ($80,909)
- IT Director ($122,212)
- Senior Project Manager, IT ($116,497)
- Vice President, IT ($153,028)
- Information Security Analyst ($73,450)
Related: Top 10 Highest Paying PhD Degrees in 2022
What is the Average Cost of a PhD in Computer Science?
The per-credit tuition can range from $450 to $1,000, depending on the specific program. Therefore, the total program tuition could add up to $27,000 to $60,000.
It’s also important to factor in other study expenses in addition to tuition. Studying online will help you avoid accommodation and transportation fees, though you may need to pay a technology fee.
PhD in Computer Science FAQs
Can You Get a PhD in Computer Science Online?
Yes, it is possible to earn a PhD in computer science online. Many universities offer online doctorate computer science programs. While some are 100% online, others require you to complete a minimal amount of face-to-face sessions to complete the program.
Is a PhD in Computer Science Worth It?
A PhD in computer science can be extremely valuable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that computer and IT occupations will grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030, higher than the average across all occupations. Moreover, the annual median salary is $97,430, more than double that of the average across all professions.
How Fast Can You Get a PhD in Computer Science?
The duration times vary depending on the program and whether you choose to study full or part-time. You can complete a PhD in computer science in as little as three years. Most programs will let you take up to seven years to gain your doctorate.
How Long Does it Take to Get a PhD in Computer Science?
Most students take 5-7 years to complete a PhD in computer science. However, you may be able to cut this down to 3-4 years, particularly if you can transfer credits from previous studies.
The field of computing and information technology offers a wide range of opportunities. With technology advancing at breakneck speeds, this sector needs increasing numbers of professionals with advanced qualifications in specialized computer science-related fields. Therefore, online PhD computer science programs can set you up for a lucrative and rewarding career at the highest levels of the industry.
Interested in expanding your dream PhD search beyond an online computer science PhD? Discover more excellent courses, both on-campus and online, with our guides to the best free online master’s courses, the best online PhDs in Psychology, and the best online engineering degrees.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.