Top 8 Online Doctorates in Computer Science

With the constant evolution of technology, we live in an exciting time to explore a career in computer science. This fast-paced and growing field offers plenty of job opportunities and versatility in terms of the positions available. The Top 8 Online Doctorates in Computer Science prepares students to become leaders and innovators of technology in 2020-2021. 

Students with a degree in computer science, students learn how to develop software, work in cybersecurity, manage databases, help businesses set up and maintain networks, and much, much more. The Top 8 Online Doctorates in Computer Science provides the specialized, detailed education necessary to get started with a career in this exciting field. In fact, the majority of the following programs don’t require their students to set foot on campus to earn their degrees! 


A career in the computer science field is enticing for numerous reasons. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists make an average salary of $118,370 per year. The job outlook for the computer science field is expected to grow by 19% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than average.

As businesses learn to gather and better use large amounts of data, we’ll see an increased need for data mining specialists. Other computer science fields, such as software development and web development, are also expected to grow. This means that with a degree in computer science, you’ll be qualified for a well-paying, in-demand position. 

These online Doctorates in Computer Science are available either entirely online or with some residency requirements, allowing you the flexibility you need to work full-time while also going to school. Many of these programs include the development of a thesis, and most of them allow you to work closely with faculty on research projects or in a mentorship situation.

While the admission requirements vary from program to program, already having an established knowledge of elements like computer programming and coding will make it easier to transition into and keep pace with the work. When choosing the program that’s right for you, consider factors such as whether or not you’ll need to travel to campus as well as when the online courses are offered and how that will fit into your schedule. Many of these programs offer asynchronous courses, allowing you to log in at any time to complete your work. 


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings, online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia. 

Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit ourmethodology page. 



At Nova Southeastern University, students can pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Science degree program delivered through both traditional and online instruction. The program is designed specifically with working professionals in mind and is well-suited for students who are working in the industry, government, or education fields. Each semester, students work on coursework, research, and online activities. Students also attend on-campus sessions once each term. These sessions are held on a Wednesday through Friday at the university’s Fort Lauderdale/Davie Campus. Program graduates will be prepared for a variety of career opportunities, including roles as C-level executives, college and university faculty members, computer scientists, research and development staff, and senior software engineers. 

Nova Southeastern University created a graduate computer science program in 1975 and has since pioneered computing research and education. The university first offered online programs as early as 1983, later providing the first electronic classroom in 1985. Today, Nova Southeastern University offers specializations in computer science, computer information systems, information systems, information science, and computing technology in education. In 2015, the university created the College of Engineering and Computing. Students in the Ph.D. program learn from the College of Engineering and Computing faculty members who all hold doctoral degrees. 

Format: Online



Columbia University in the City of New York offers a Computer Science Doctorate Degree that is delivered partially online. This degree is only offered to students who also have earned their Computer Science MS degree through Columbia. Students must have a faculty advisor throughout the program since they gain research experience by working as apprentices and then becoming junior colleagues who work with faculty on research projects. Students may choose to focus on one of the department areas, including network security, computer graphics, web technologies, robotics, software engineering, and more. 

Columbia University was founded in 1754, and today it is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the country. Three undergraduate schools, 13 graduate and professional schools, and a medical center make up the university today. Columbia is also home to a vast amount of resources for students, including 25 libraries and over 100 research centers and institutes. Through the libraries, students can access more than 13 million volumes and 160,000 journals and serials. Columbia is home to 84 Nobel Laureates, and over 300 inventions are created at the university each year. 

Format: Online



At Colorado Technical University, students can pursue a Doctor of Computer Science (DCS) degree program online. Students can choose to concentrate in Big Data Analytics, Enterprise Information Systems, or Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. The online courses offer plenty of flexibility so students can build their course schedules around their personal lives. The online curriculum does have a residency component with in-person symposium experiences, and the development of a dissertation is integrated into the program. 

CTU was founded in 1965 and has offered an innovative education experience ever since. In addition to providing on-campus learning opportunities, CTU has become a leader in the field of hybrid and online learning. In 2009, the Computerworld Honors program recognized CTU’s Virtual Campus in its “Best of the Best” ranking. In 2013, CTU’s Online MBA program was also known as being one of the top 10 online MBA programs in the world. CTU has also been included in the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 ranking. At CTU, students can pursue a variety of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Many of these programs aren’t just offered in person but are also available online. 

Format: Online



Clarkson University’s Ph.D. in Computer Science program is offered both online and onsite at the Potsdam campus. This interdisciplinary program allows students to take courses from both the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science. This program requires students to complete at least 90 graduate credit hours, and students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in the courses that are used to meet graduation requirements. During this program, students must complete an original research project that they submit as a written thesis and must complete all of the work for their Ph.D. degree within seven years of being admitted. 

Clarkson University has five locations throughout New York State, including its main campus in Potsdam and its graduate campus in Schenectady. The university was founded in 1896 and today offers over 95 programs of study to 4,300 undergraduate and graduate students. Clarkson is home to 42,000 living alumni. Students at Clarkson can study abroad with one of Clarkson’s 55 partner universities located throughout 28 countries. In addition, Clarkson’s 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures that students receive personalized support from faculty. The quality of a Clarkson education is evident in the success of the university’s alumni; one in five alumni are CEOs, senior executives, or the owners of a company. 

Format: Online



At the University of Rhode Island, students can pursue a Computer Science Ph.D. at the Kingston campus, online, or via courses held in the days and evenings. This program takes four years to complete on a full-time basis. Students usually conduct a major research project within the computer science field and can expect to take courses such as The Joy of Programming, Topics in Computing, Social Issues in Computing, and Computer Graphics. Program applicants hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or in a related field. GRE test scores are also required. Students will take a qualifying examination that assesses the student’s knowledge of core computer science topics. 

Located in Kingston, RI, URI is a research university that offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. The university encompasses 320 buildings across four campuses and a student body representing 76 nations. Admission to URI is competitive, and in 2018, 22,781 students applied for 3,226 spots. URI applicants have, on average, a 3.54 GPA and an SAT score of 1,185. Students can choose from over 90 undergraduate, 73 graduate, and 22 certificate and non-degree programs. URI students enjoy a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio that allows for personalized feedback from faculty, and 87 percent of URI full-time faculty have terminal degrees in their field. 

Format: Online


Wright State University’s Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering features courses during the day, in the evening, or online, and students can start their degree on a part-time or full-time capacity. During the program, students work closely with faculty and have many valuable opportunities, including the chance to contribute to peer-reviewed publications and to create an independent research program. Admission to the program is competitive, and program applicants should have a previous degree in Computer Science, or a related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.3. Applicants must also have a minimum GRE score of 305. Knowledge in areas such as computer programming, computer organization, and data structures and algorithms can help students to succeed in this program. 

Located in Dayton, Ohio, Wright State University is a national public university. Students can choose from 295 degree programs across the university’s eight schools. The university consists of 32 academic buildings on its Dayton campus and a branch campus in Celina. Wright State University first opened in 1964 with just over 3,000 students and was named in honor of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who invented the first successful airplane. Over 15,000 students attend the university today, and the university is home to over 108,000 alumni. U.S. News & World Report recently recognized Wright State University’s online graduate business, engineering, and nursing programs in its national ranking of the best online graduate programs in the country. 

Format: Online



At Aspen University, students can earn a Doctor of Science in Computer Science degree online. This program focuses on advanced research and analysis methods in computer architecture and software design, preparing students for high-level computer science careers. During this program, students will take a variety of courses, including System Metrics & Risk Management, Simulation and Modeling, Artificial Intelligence, Operations and Supply Chain Management, and Computer Ethics. Program applicants hold a master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must also be competent in Object Oriented Programming and must submit a resume and a statement of their academic, professional, and personal goals. 

Aspen University was founded in the 1960s to improve the accessibility of higher education. The university’s initial focus involved technology and business education, although Aspen now offers all degree types for Nursing, Business & Technology, Education, and Professional Studies. One of the critical highlights of Aspen is its affordability. Aspen works to keep its tuition rates low enough that most students can pay their tuition in cash or can cover monthly tuition payments. While students can qualify for traditional financial aid, Aspen also offers a unique Monthly Payment Plan that is entirely interest-free. Students make monthly payments toward their tuition while they are in school, minimizing the debt that they have when they graduate. 

Format: Online


#8 Northcentral University

Northcentral University’s Ph.D. in Computer Science degree program can be completed entirely online in about 50 months. With no course start dates and no scheduled lecture hours, this degree program offers students unparalleled flexibility in their education. Students can complete their coursework around their commitments and schedules, and they receive personalized, one-on-one mentoring from faculty. Because Northcentral University’s faculty all hold doctorate degrees, students will receive instruction from highly qualified professionals in their field. 

Located in San Diego, Northcentral University was founded in 1996. This private, nonprofit university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees entirely online. The university consists of five schools: The School of Business, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, School of Social & Behavioral Sciences, and School of Technology. Northcentral has no residency requirements, and with the school’s weekly start dates, students don’t have to waste any time in beginning their degree programs. The university’s one-on-one learning model focuses on the power of mentoring and allows students to connect with faculty for a personalized learning experience closely. 

Format: Online