How Many Years to Get a PhD in Computer Science?

You finished at least a bachelor’s in computer science, and maybe a master’s too.

Are you now deciding whether you should go back for your PhD in computer science? Getting a PhD is a big commitment, and you should be entirely sure you’re willing to put in the time and effort required to complete the degree. You’ll likely experience setbacks while working toward your PhD, but the rewards can make all the hard work worth it. 

We are going to help you evaluate if its worth it to you to pursue a PhD in computer science in terms of the years you’ll have to invest, the kind of job you may end up working after graduation, and the salary you can expect once you land your dream job. Keep reading to learn more about the computer science field!

Is it Worth Doing a PhD in Computer Science?

The answer to this question completely depends on what you wish to accomplish by earning this degree. For some, getting their PhD comes down to the prestige associated with a doctorate degree and being the top-most authority in a particular subject. In contrast, others complete their PhD to land a specific job that requires the highest degree in the field. 

You should also consider where you’re at in your life in order to determine whether or not you are willing to invest the vast amount and time and effort it requires to earn this degree. Those with a full-time job and a family may find that the time commitments are too extensive. And those who have recently graduated from a bachelor’s or master’s program and are eager to enter the workforce might think the same. A PhD in this field typically requires around four or five years of dedicated study, which is simply too daunting for some people. 

What Jobs Can You Get With a PhD in Computer Science?

Pretty much any job in the computer science field is open for those who have earned their PhD in computer science. Those with this doctoral degree are particularly suited and qualified to pursue a career as a postsecondary computer science teacher or as a computer and information research scientist. 

While 47% of postsecondary computer science teachers only have a master’s degree, getting a PhD may help give you the advantage over other candidates when applying for jobs. Around 42% of postsecondary computer science teachers have doctorate degrees, which may indicate that the field is moving toward preferring candidates who have a doctorate.

As a computer and information research scientist, you can expect to spend your days solving complex computer hardware and software problems. In this career, you could be theorizing about potential computer system problems, as well as designing and inventing creative solutions to the problems The job has an excellent outlook, as between 2018 and 2028 the number of the computer and information research scientists is expected to increase by 17%, which is much higher than the national average across all industries.

How Much Does a PhD in Computer Science Make?

How much you end up making after you graduate with your PhD in computer science largely depends on both the career you decide to pursue as well as where you live. Computer and information research scientists can expect to earn a median income of  $118,370 per year. Salaries vary greatly between states, with the median income the highest in Washington at just under $140,000 annually and the lowest median income in West Virginia at $63,510. It’s also worth noting that the salary numbers given are the median incomes, with many individuals making significantly more and less money each year. 

If you decide to pursue a career as a postsecondary computer science teacher, you’ll likely earn around $82,220 per year. If you live in California or decide to move to that state as a postsecondary computer science teacher, expect to earn a median income of $125,900 yearly. Postsecondary computer science teachers in West Virginia, on the other hand, earn an annual median salary of $52,000 per year.