If you want to pursue a leadership, research or teaching position in a computer-related field, completing a PhD program is essential. Computer science colleges offer three main computer-related doctoral degree programs to choose from: a computer science PhD, a PhD in information technology, and a PhD in information systems. Computer-related PhD programs generally take four to five years to complete.
While pursuing a doctorate in computer science, students learn about the theoretical and mathematical foundations of computing. PhD in information systems programs focus on the relationship between information systems and the organizations that rely on them, and a PhD in information technology integrates the theory and practice of applied computing, information systems, and information technology management.
Computer Science PhD Overview
A computer science PhD prepares students to develop new computer science theories. Problems that PhD students in the computer science field may tackle include everything from theoretical and mathematical problems to the building of new technologies. Students are not required to have an undergraduate degree in computer science to enter a PhD in computer science program, but most have a background in computer science or a related technical field, such as computer or electrical engineering.
Upon completing PhD programs in computer science, graduates typically work at research universities or industrial research and development laboratories. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most computer scientists are required to possess a PhD in computer science or a closely related discipline.
PhD in Information Technology vs. Information Systems
The PhD in information technology prepares students to perform high-level, applied research. PhD students in the IT field are equipped with knowledge of the theory, nature, and application of information technology. They also possess an understanding of the science and engineering of current and future information technologies. PhD programs in IT are generally geared towards individuals who want to become research specialists at educational institutions and other organizations.
In information systems doctorate programs, students learn about the impact of information and communications technologies on society. Information systems programs at the PhD level develop students’ advanced research and scholarly writing capabilities. Upon graduating from information systems doctorate programs, students typically go on to pursue leadership, research, consulting, and college faculty positions.
Why Earn an Advanced Degree?
Completing a PhD program is hard work, to say the least. According to the US Census Bureau, only 1.4% of the population attains a PhD, primarily because of the extensive effort that it requires. Despite the challenges it presents, earning a PhD offers numerous rewards for those who have the discipline required to make it that far. If you want to “make a mark” in your field, have the freedom to pursue your interests in the workplace, and create innovative solutions that have the potential to change lives, earning a PhD program in a computer-related field may be the right choice. Pursuing an IT, information systems or computer science PhD will allow you to become an expert in your field and open doors to numerous employment options.