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Why Get a PhD in Computer Science? Your Questions Answered

Updated: July 19, 2022 | Published: August 24, 2019

Updated: July 19, 2022

Published: August 24, 2019


Computer Science is an ever evolving and massively expanding field of study as technology continues to innovate and data grows exponentially. For those highly interested in research, earning your PhD in Computer Science can offer you top level accessibility to become an expert in the field and pursue either a high-level career within the industry or work in academia.

Most people who have completed the doctorate degree advise doing so only if you really love the subject and research. Earning your PhD in Computer Science has many benefits, although there is no doubt that it’s challenging.

Although a doctorate degree is not required to work in the field, it offers other benefits like allowing you to research cutting-edge technology with adequate funding. As with any graduate degree, it takes both time and money to complete, so before deciding to enroll, let’s go more in depth and answer some questions about why you would want to get a PhD in Computer Science.

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What is a PhD in Computer Science?

A PhD in Computer Science is the highest level doctorate degree you can earn. Once you finish your undergraduate degree in Computer Science or a related field like Engineering or Applied Mathematics, you can apply for your doctorate degree.

If you didn’t major in Computer Science, then earning your Master’s degree in the subject will help you on your journey for your doctorate degree. Although it is not required to apply for a PhD, having your Master’s degree first is generally preferable.

Most programs require the following, along with a degree, to apply for a PhD:

  • Previous research experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A high GPA (about 3.5-4.0)

Program Length

Earning your PhD in Computer Science is not for the faint of heart as it requires a lot of time, energy and perseverance. Although the length of completion depends on your enrollment status of full or part-time, it typically takes 5-6 years to finish.

Opportunities and Challenges

As the top academic achievement within the field, a PhD exposes students to high-level information, as well as some of the hardest challenges facing the world and technology. A PhD grants students the opportunity to perform the research of their choice and explore the topic that interest them the most.

Upon graduation, a PhD student can continue with academia or enter the industry. However, if you want to enter the field as a Computer Programmer, Software Developer or the like, you don’t have to earn a degree at this level as a Bachelor’s degree will suffice. In fact, some jobs may consider a PhD candidate to be too highly qualified, so you’ll want to assess your future goals before enrolling in a PhD program.

One of the benefits of earning this doctorate degree is the freedom you have. Most programs are quite unstructured, meaning that you get to choose what you want to research. Therefore, you can be a leading expert in the field and help to shape policies around artificial intelligence, automation and technologies that are changing the way the world functions.

The deep and rich education can expand your horizons and help you understand ideas and topics that you would never have otherwise considered.

Potential Jobs

Although it is possible to enter the field of Computer Science without a PhD, having the knowledge will expand possibilities and increase your pay.

Some of the job titles that PhD candidates seek include:

Computer and Information Research Scientist:

People in this position help to invent new programming languages that enhance business practices. With the high amount of data, information and research, these scientists can create changes and also assess their impact through analysis.

Database Administrator:

Database administrators organize and secure data against attacks. Those with a PhD can be trusted to understand the complex nature of various systems and be able to better protect them.

Software Developer:

Software developers create systems and software for various uses. Although a PhD is not required to be a software developer, it further enhances one’s understanding.

Computer Science salaries vary based on position type, location and education. However, the overall field of Computer Science is growing. In fact, Computer and Information Research Scientists are expecting much higher than average growth with the discipline expected to increase its demand by 19% between 2016 and 2026. Those with a PhD will increase their salary potential based on their educational accomplishment.

Furthermore, with a PhD in Computer Science, you can go on to be a professor since you’re a leading expert in the field. The demand for jobs within the field is growing, especially regarding cloud computing, data storage, artificial intelligence and information security.

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Online Versus Traditional Programs

The reason you choose to earn your PhD in Computer Science is personal, and how you choose to do it is also a subjective choice. It’s hard to say if an online university or traditional onsite program is better or worse because the reasons for choosing to do one or the other are different.

The benefits of an online program include relatively lower costs, more flexibility and greater accessibility. However, an onsite program offers you more opportunity to perform research and work with those in person who are already advancing the field.

For example, some students who earn their Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science online from University of the People may enjoy the online experience and therefore want to continue their studies remotely by earning their PhD online as well.


Earning your undergraduate degree is the first step in moving towards earning your PhD in Computer Science. While the field is always growing and the opportunity for research multiplies, pursuing a PhD in the discipline is an important decision to make. The program generally offers freedom to select your area of interest, but it also takes time and a lot of dedication to complete.

Those who go on to get their PhD should really have an affinity for the subject matter and love to conduct research. It’s also useful to know that it’s typically easier to earn a PhD then enter the field as opposed to working in the field and then going back to earn your PhD.

Any form of higher education will never serve as a detriment as it helps expand your mind, create more networking opportunities and better hone your skills and knowledge regarding specific subject matter.