2021 Best Part Time PhD in Computer Science Programs

If you’re interested in working with computers at an advanced level and solving complex technical problems in relation to operating systems, programming, and algorithms, then earning a part time PhD in Computer Science may be a beneficial path for you to consider.

PhD in Computer Science

With an on campus or online PhD in Computer Science, you may have access to a variety of career paths that offer higher than average salaries and positive job growth.

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A terminal degree in computer science may allow you to use your expertise to teach others, contribute to growing research and knowledge in the field, or execute tasks for an organization.

Part Time PhD in Computer Science

part-time CS PhD

Part time doctoral programs in computer science may be offered in an online or on-campus format, but program offerings vary widely from school to school.

Doctoral programs are intended to help prepare you for advanced positions in computer science by building on existing skills and knowledge developed in bachelors- or masters-level programs. As an example, you may have earned a part time masters in computer science and are now ready to take your skills to the doctoral level in a part time program.

You may increase your understanding of operating systems, computer engineering, programming languages, and information networks, among other topics. Due to the part-time attendance structure, these programs are often ideal for working professionals who are looking to advance their education while maintaining regular employment.

Many students feel that computer science is hard, so the part-time structure may also be a good fit if you need to balance other life or family responsibilities. Pursuing a part-time PhD program in computer science may require you to complete a variety of courses.

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Some of these courses may include theoretical foundations of computer science, algorithm design, software engineering, computer programming, programming languages, and data structures. Additional coursework may include calculus, software modeling, network security, machine learning, and data visualization.

Common career options with a Ph.D. in Computer Science include teaching positions at universities along with professional research roles within academic institutions, the government, or think tank organizations.

You may also find rewarding employment in positions such as computer and information systems manager, computer hardware engineer, computer network architect, software quality assurance analyst, or information security analyst.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time PhD in Computer Science

computer programmer working

Choosing whether to attend a PhD in Computer Science part-time or full-time may depend on a variety of factors, including which format best fits into your life, how long it will take for you to complete the program, and the manner in which you will attend your classes.

You may want the flexibility of earning an online computer science degree, or you may prefer the structure that accompanies in-person learning.

Enrollment

PhD in Computer science student

Earning a doctorate in computer science generally requires the completion of 72 to 90 credits. The number of required credits may vary from school to school.

Whether you choose to study online or on-campus, you may be able to attend courses on evenings or weekends. Notably, as with the best online computer science masters degree programs, online PhD programs may offer a more flexible course structure so that you can attend online lectures whenever it fits into your schedule. With this option, you wouldn’t have to attend at a specific time on a certain date.

On the other hand, you may prefer to attend courses in-person to benefit from networking with other students or from a more structured learning environment.

Time to Completion

PhD in CS student

While part-time and full-time attendance will require you to complete the same number of credits, the two options may take varying amounts of time to complete. Studying on a part-time basis may extend the length of time required to obtain your degree.

The amount of time it takes may depend on the number of courses you are able to complete each semester. It may also depend on how long it takes for you to complete any dissertation requirements that may be needed in order to graduate.

Pros and Cons

Part-Time PhD in Computer Science Full-Time PhD in Computer Science
Pros
  • May balance work or family life
  • Less demanding financially
  • Greater flexibility in scheduling your course load
  • May qualify for funding from your employer
  • Complete in less time
  • May start working in positions that require your advanced degree in less time
  • More networking opportunities
Cons
  • Takes longer to complete
  • Less networking opportunities
  • Financially demanding
  • Less flexible and harder to balance work and family life

Careers and Salaries in Computer Science

Careers and Salaries in Computer Science

Expertise in the field of computer science is a skillset that can be leveraged across virtually all sectors of the economy.

You may pursue work in local and national government bodies, computer system firms, research facilities, banks and insurance companies, and nonprofit organizations. Terminal degrees in the field may also prepare you for positions in education and academia.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions in the field of computer and information technology earn an average of $91,250 per year and have a positive job growth rate of 11%.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Computer and Information Systems Managers $151,150
Computer and Information Research Scientists $126,830
Computer Hardware Engineers $119,560
Computer Network Architects $116,780
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers $110,140
Information Security Analysts $103,590
Computer Systems Analysts $93,730
Computer Programmers $89,190
Postsecondary Computer Science Teachers $85,540
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $84,810

A number of positions available to you with a PhD in Computer Science are expected to experience growth over the coming years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these positions include computer network architects (5%), computer systems analysts (7%), computer and information research scientists (15%), and information security analysts (31%).

Computer Science Doctoral Courses

Software Engineers in office

Coursework in a part time doctoral program in computer science may cover a wide range of topics in order to provide you with the expertise required to graduate from the terminal degree program.

  • Software Engineering: This course looks at methods used in the development of software, including system design, testing, and validation.
  • Computational Intelligence: This course is a review of computer intelligence foundational practices and techniques, including granular computing, data mining, and distribution.
  • Operating Systems: This course is an overview of topics related to operating systems, resource management, and system implementation.
  • Advanced Image Processing: You’ll take a look at image digitalization, processing, and enhancement practices as well as restoration, filtering, and segmentation.
  • Network Security: This course is an advanced exploration of various areas of network security, including security standards-SSL and TLS and SET, authentication, and digital certificates.
  • Modeling and Simulation: You’ll review modeling and simulation theories and applications in the field of computer science.
  • Data Mining: This course is an overview of graph mining practices and algorithms, including R-MAT graph generators, PageRank, and SimRank.
  • Programming Language Concepts: You’ll review programming language fundamentals, including syntax and binding times.
  • Logic Programming: This course is an overview of deductive databases in applications and logic programming in computer science.
  • Human-Computer Interactions: You’ll explore current and emerging trends and topics in the area of advanced computer and human interactions.

In addition to finishing all required coursework, you may need to complete a dissertation to graduate with your degree.

Admissions

PhD in Com Sci student

While admission requirements for a PhD in Computer Science part-time program may vary from school to school, some common criteria include:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some schools may allow you to apply for admission with a bachelor-level education while others may require you to hold a master’s degree.
  • GRE or GMAT scores. While this requirement is becoming less common, some schools may still request your test scores in order to apply for their programs.
  • Letter of reference. You may be required to submit reference letters from previous academic supervisors or employers speaking to your fit and qualifications for the program.

In addition to the above requirements, some schools may require you to complete an online application, provide a copy of your resume or CV, and write a letter of intent.

Accreditation

PhD in Computer Science Accreditation

When a school is regionally accredited, it means that the programs offered are of high academic quality and have met a predetermined set of quality standards.

The accreditation status of a program can not only impact your ability to transfer credits to other programs but may also influence your ability to qualify for financial aid. An accredited degree may also be perceived as better quality by potential employers, and they may place higher regard on your qualifications and expertise.

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You may find out if the school you’re interested in attending offers an accredited computer science PhD program by searching the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid

PhD in Computer Science Financial Aid

There are a number of resources available that you may be eligible for that can help cover the costs related to part time doctorate programs.

Financial aid opportunities for your PhD education may include federal or state grant and loan programs, scholarships offered by private or public organizations, or even a training program through your employer.

In some cases, the school where you obtain your PhD may also offer financial support. Depending on the school’s specific offerings, you may be able to obtain funding for the cost of tuition as well as a stipend for living expenses. This is the case even at the best computer science universities.

For more information on financial aid, you can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

Should I Get a PhD in Computer Science?

Computer Network Architects at work

Obtaining a PhD in Computer Science may require you to invest time in courses such as theoretical foundations of computer science, algorithm design, software engineering, data structures, software modeling, network security, machine learning, and data visualization.

You may also undertake a great deal of research in order to complete your dissertation. If you enjoy solving complex issues and working with technology at an advanced level, then a terminal degree in computer science might be a beneficial path for you to consider.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Computer Science?

There are a variety of careers that you may pursue with a PhD in Computer Science. These include computer and information systems manager, computer and information research scientist, computer hardware engineer, computer network architect, and software quality assurance analyst.

Other career options may include software developer and programmer, information security analyst, computer systems analyst, postsecondary teacher, or network and computer system administrator. After obtaining your degree, you may be prepared to even open your own business offering consulting services.

Are There Any Part Time PhD Programs?

Computer Programmers working together

Yes, there are PhD programs in computer science that can be attended on a part-time basis. The specific number of credits required to graduate may vary from school to school, but PhD programs in computer science generally require you to complete between 72 to 90 credits.

The number of credits required remains the same regardless of whether you enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. Attending part-time, though, will often take you longer to complete your degree than a full-time study schedule.

Depending on the program you choose to enroll in, you may have the opportunity to attend courses online or on-campus on a part-time basis.

Does a Part Time PhD Have Value?

The educational value of a part-time PhD program should be similar to that of a full-time program. The primary difference is that a part-time PhD program will often take you longer to complete since your course load will be less per semester than the full-time option.

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Other factors that may influence the value of a part-time PhD also impact the value of the full-time counterpart. One such factor may include the accreditation status of the program or school you’re attending.

How Long Does a Part Time PhD in Computer Science Take?

Computer Programmers working

Traditional PhD computer science programs may require you to complete between 72 to 90 course credits. With full-time attendance, this may be completed within 3 to 5 years.

Part-time studies inevitably extend the length of time it may take for you to graduate from a program, but the specific amount of time will vary depending on the course load you have each semester. For example, if you have half of the regular course load each semester, then you can expect the program to take you twice as long to complete.

There may be other factors, though, that can influence the length of time required to complete your degree part-time. These factors may include maintaining enrollment continuously throughout the calendar year or transferring previously earned credits into your program.

Is a PhD in Computer Science Worth It?

computer programmers in meeting

Yes, a PhD in Computer Science is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology jobs are set to grow at 11% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common computer science careers in this field include postsecondary computer science teacher, computer and information systems manager, computer and information research scientist, computer hardware engineer, and computer network architect.

In these positions, you may find employment within government institutions, private sector businesses, nonprofits, educational facilities, or within your own business as a self-employed consultant.

Universities Offering Part Time PhD in Computer Science Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

DePaul University

DePaul University campus

DePaul University allows part-time enrollment in its rigorous PhD in Computer and Information Sciences program. This research-based program lets students demonstrate a heightened awareness of their field and prepares them to write and defend an academic dissertation. Small classes make support from faculty highly accessible at DU.

DePaul University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University has an award-winning Doctorate in Computer Science program that helps students develop expertise in computing and informatics.

Students enrolled in this part-time program conduct extensive research in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, data analytics, and much more. Students have access to research facilities and labs to assist in their learning journeys.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University campus

Georgia State University’s PhD in Computer Science blends academic coursework, rigorous research, and dissertation studies.

The program gives students a well-rounded educational opportunity, helping them advance in the information technology field. Graduates from this program can be teachers, researchers, or leaders in the business world. Part-time students are welcome to apply.

Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology campus

Students enrolled in the Doctor of Computer Science program at the Stevens Institute of Technology are connected with experts from around the world. They learn valuable information to help them excel in this ever-growing industry. Research dissertations begin immediately at SIT, so students have the opportunity to focus on this rigorous endeavor.

Stevens Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame campus

The PhD in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Notre Dame focuses on the areas of artificial intelligence, algorithms and theory, nanotechnology, and much more. Students in this program have the opportunity to complete academic research related to their area of interest and become experts in the area they choose.

Notre Dame is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PhD Part Time

PhD in Com Sci online

Earning a PhD in Computer Science may offer you the opportunity for a challenging and rewarding career. You may have the ability to teach aspiring computer scientists, contribute to research in the field, or apply your knowledge in a hands-on manner for various organizations.

Part-time PhD programs in computer science may prepare you to leverage your expertise in the theoretical foundations of computer science, algorithm design, network security, and data structures, among other areas.

If you’re interested in advancing your career in this rewarding field, then you may want to research various accredited, part-time PhD computer science programs to find the one that best suits your schedule and your professional goals.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.