PhD Programs Computer ScienceIf you’re looking to take your career in Computer Science to the next level, a PhD in Computer Science will exponentially increase your job opportunities and employment security. But who has time for a PhD program? Fortunately, there are some great options to choose from that can be accessed at least partially online, and come in delivery schedules and methods designed to fit the lives of working adults. In these programs you’ll learn advanced concepts in Network Security, Graphics, Operating Systems, Machine Learning, Algorithms, Quantum Science, Software Engineering and much more. You’ll have ample opportunities to choose courses that reflect your career goals and interests, and often do vital research before creating and defending a thesis. The following programs were ranked on an array of methodology, as reflected below:


Colleges and universities which were examined for our ranking include not-for-profit private schools as well as public institutions. Data for the ranking is gathered from multiple sources which include the following:

Colleges and Universities were ranked based on four different numbers: overall graduation rate, retention rate, residential cost of attendance (COA), and the overall grade given by students at Niche. Graduation rate and retention rate, we dropped the percent for ease of addition. For example, 64% would become 64. No institution is expected to achieve a total score of 400, however, each of these numbers can be as high as 100.

AffordabilityThese conversion scales explain how affordability is ranked from the COA. Also, you can find out the way we have converted Niche grades into a number. After converting these statistics into our numerical scale, all four numbers are added together in order to get a total score in order to rank the school.

While it’s true that many perceive graduation and retention rates as not as important for graduate students, they are a good way to assess the overall success of an institution, and this is why these statistics were chosen as part of our ranking criteria.

Cost of attendance is how we measure the affordability of an institution. While some institutions may have different rates for residential students versus out-of-state students, the residential COA was chosen to use for our ranking.Niche letter to number

The Niche overall grade is a grade that has been determined by students who use Niche and voice their opinions and sometimes recount their experiences.Student opinion is important to OnlineCollegePlan and thanks to data from Niche, we are able to use their measurement and convert it into a numerical form. This allows data from actual students to create our ranking.

The ranking formula is:
Graduation Rate + Retention Rate + COA + Niche Grade = Final Score

It should be noted that no schools ranked on OnlineCollegePlan have given preferential treatment, nor have any institutions requested such. Our rankings are prepared as explained so that any individual would be able to create the same rankings using the same data from these sources in order to arrive at the same sequence at the time of publication. OCP can not be responsible for changes in data which occur after the ranking is created, however, we strive to keep our rankings updated and current.

5. Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University is a private, nonprofit university headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was founded in 1964 with an initial class of 17 students. Its motto is, “engage, inspire, achieve.” NSU has 18 colleges, featuring 175 programs and 250 majors. It offers degrees in law, business, osteopathic medicine, allied health, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing. Over 21,600 students attend Nova, and it has produced over 170,000 alumni. Currently, the school has a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. NSU has been consistently recognized as a quality research and community engaged university. It was ranked 214th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The Nova Southeastern Sharks compete in NCAA Division II, offering seven men’s sports and ten women’s. Notable alumni include Miami Marlins shortstop Dee Gordon, Isabel Saint Malo, the Vice President of Panama, as well as a slew of legislators and judges in Florida.

Nova offers a hybrid PhD in Computer Science program that requires a mix of on-campus participation and online study. They also offer related PhD’s in Information Assurance and Information Systems. This program requires students to complete eight core courses (chosen from ten) for 32 credits, eight credits of doctoral research, and of course your dissertation, which students will defend twice: when they propose it during early research, and of the final product. Sample classes students choose from include Artificial Intelligence, Network Security and Cryptography, Computer Graphics, Operating Systems, Database Management Systems, and several others. Students must meet a number of prerequisites to qualify for this program, which is intended for professionals in the field that can meet quarterly over extended weekends in Fort Lauderdale, and work on assignments, research and participate in other online activities. Tuition is approximately $12,075 per term.

4. Dakota State University

Dakota State University

This public university was founded in 1881 in Madison, South Dakota. DSU is known for their graduate and undergraduate programs in computer science, business, education, natural sciences, liberal arts and more. There are nearly 3,200 students (17:1 student-to-faculty ratio), and the overwhelming majority of graduate students take their classes primarily online. In 2013, DSU ranked 4th among online schools in the United States on Guide to Online Schools’ rankings that year. It also tied at #32 among top public schools in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report’s Midwest rankings. DSU’s athletics are known as the Trojans, competing in the NAIA in men’s sports like baseball, basketball, cross country, football and track & field, and women’s sports like basketball, cross country, soccer, track & field and volleyball.

DSU offers Doctors of Science degrees in Cyber Security and Information Systems that can be taken partially online with some residency at the Madison, SC campus. In the former degree, students will study topics including data collection, software exploitation, malicious code, and reverse engineering. The Information Systems degree gives students an advanced education in applications and research practices, with the goal of creating and supporting new IT innovations. The cost of the Cyber Security program is $24,345.10, and the Information Systems total cost is $35,120.80. The school notes its relationship with organizations like the NSA, CIA, Navy SPAWAR, Department of Homeland Security, Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab, Army INSCOM, Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute and MIT’s Lincoln Lab, who desperately need to fill countless open cyber security and information systems positions with qualified candidates. Students can also choose between full and part-time attendance for these programs.

3. Clarkson University

Clarkson University

Clarkson is a private research company headquartered in Potsdam, New York. It was founded in 1896. Nearly 4,400 students attend Clarkson, which has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It has been noted for boosting the salary earnings of its graduates. Clarkson offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through its Institute for a Sustainable Environment, School of Arts & Sciences, School of Business and the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering. The Clarkson Golden Knights compete in 20 varsity sports in the NCAA Division III, except for its men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, which compete in Division 1. Many of its notable alumni are professional hockey players and executives, as well as NY Assemblyman Dan Stec, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, actor M. Emmet Walsh, Physicist Bruce P. Hellman and many others.

Clarkson offers a Computer Science PhD that can be completed through online and onsite study at Clarkson. Students in this program take four required courses including two theory courses, one in systems and one in languages. They also take four research courses, then choose four courses in theory and algorithms, computer systems and networks, languages and software development, artificial intelligence and applications, in addition to other electives. Students must also propose a thesis, execute it and defend it. In 2017-18 graduate Computer Science tuition at Clarkson is $1,345 per credit hour.

2. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s ranked 10th among global universities in U.S. News & World Report 2018 rankings, and is heavily geared towards postgraduates. It’s currently serving 14,848 postgraduates, and only 5,326 undergraduates with a great student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays compete in NCAA Division III, except for their lacrosse teams, which compete in the first division. They offer nine sports for men and women. Johns Hopkins has a ridiculously long line of noted alumni, including Woodrow Wilson, and 27 Nobel Laureates.

Johns Hopkins offers a PhD program in Computer Science that can be taken part-time, or online. Students can choose between focus areas like Big Data and Cloud Computing, Bioinformatics, Cybersecurity, Data Communications and Networking, Database Systems and Knowledge Management, Enterprise and Web Computing, Human-Computer Interaction and Visualization, Software Engineering, Systems, Theory, Telecommunications and Networking. Graduates will learn advanced concepts and practical knowledge that applies to fields like robotics and computer integrated systems, speech and natural language processing, algorithm design, computational biology, and information security, and are routinely recruited by companies like Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Apple. Tuition for this program is $52,170 a year, but Johns Hopkins has an excellent track record helping students that can’t afford its education find financial aid and scholarships.

1. Columbia University

Columbia University

Columbia is an Ivy League private research university founded in upper Manhattan in 1754. It is the oldest college in NY state and the fifth institution of higher learning in America. Columbia is known for its selectivity and has accepted less than 6% of applicants. Over 29,300 students attend Columbia, which has a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s especially known for its graduate schools and offers a wealth of master’s and doctoral degrees. USNR ranked it 5th among “national universities” and 8th in its best global universities ranking for 2017. USNR also ranked Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (which offers its PhD in Computer Science) 13th in the nation. The Columbia Lions has 29 varsity teams and competes in NCAA Division I FCS. Notable alumni include Barack Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among many others.

Columbia’s Computer Science Doctoral Degree requires 30 credits to complete and is delivered partially online. Its focus is research, and students begin as apprentices before becoming junior colleagues that work with faculty on important research projects. Students are guided through this research by a research advisor, and eventually a thesis advisor, who’s usually the same person. Students select courses based on focuses including network security, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, computer graphics, web technologies, robotics, databases and information systems, compilers, programming languages, software engineering, computational biology, algorithms and quantum computing. Tuition for this program is $1,936 per credit hour.

Top 5 Online Colleges with the Best PhD in Computer Science