10 Most Affordable PhD in Computer Science Programs Online 2024

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Author: Josh Davidson / Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson / First covered: February 2019 / Updates: 2

Key Takeaways:

  • The #1 school in our ranking of the low-cost online PhD in computer science programs is Dakota State University, followed by the University of Utah.
  • A doctorate in computer science can open up various advanced career opportunities in academia, research, and industry.
  • Identify specific areas of interest within computer science (e.g., artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data science, software engineering). Look for programs and faculty members whose research aligns with your interests.
  • Research the institution’s reputation. and look for programs with strong research output, resources, and connections in your field of interest.
  • Check for funding opportunities, including scholarships, assistantships, and grants. Many PhD programs offer stipends, tuition waivers, or research grants.

Pursuing an affordable online PhD in computer science opens up exciting possibilities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Educational Attainment in the United States 2017” report, less than 3% in the US have a doctorate. Obtaining your Ph.D. can elevate you to the top of your field. If you want to be a cut above the rest, have opportunities in the newest technologies, and use your expert abilities to grow and work in the field you love, completing a Ph.D. in computer science online is right for you.

Featured Programs

There are many areas of specialty in the computer sciences. One of the newest and trending is in artificial intelligence. With a doctorate in CS, there is an opportunity to work in this field to ensure the safest and most reliable research and development. If you desire to teach computer science at the college level, obtaining this Ph.D. is often required, and you can get a job in almost any technological school. With an online doctorate of CS, you will be researching the most advanced topics in the field. Many US Ph.D. in computer science degrees are taken online due to the independence it allows working professionals. The programs are comparable to the courses taken at a brick-and-mortar college, and you leave with a Ph.D. from the college providing online learning.

Degrees Included in This Ranking:

  • Online Ph.D. in Information Systems
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science Online
  • Online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Technology
  • Online Computer and Information Science Ph.D
  • Online Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD
  • Ph.D. Online in Computer Science and Engineering
  • Online Ph.D. in Information Technology
  • Online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Technology

Ranking the 10 Most Affordable Online Computer Science PhD Programs

This list comprises the 10 Most Affordable Ph.D. in Computer Science Programs Online. Colleges are listed by tuition. Tuition numbers were taken from the NCES College Navigator tool. Only universities with a PhD in Computer Science with an online option were considered. Consider the following online PhD programs in computer science:

Note: This ranking was originally published in February 2019 and was last updated in September 2023. The 2023 updates may affect the ranking order, but the list has not been re-ordered.

#10 University of South Carolina

Ph.D. in Computer Science Online

Columbia, SC


Tuition: $13,374

The College of Engineering and Computing was established in 1961 and offers many degrees in many different technological facets. Graduates can have careers in many sectors. Some go on to be entrepreneurs, others work in cyber-security, while others work with artificial intelligence, and the list goes on. Many of the projects and research performed in this Ph.D. course are supported by government agencies or are collaborative efforts with local industries. The University of South Carolina is one of the top 25 graduate programs according to national publications such as US News and World Report.


  • Top-ranked university
  • Robust tech support for online learners
  • Affordable tuition


  • Less reputable computer science department
  • Less diverse student body

#9 University of Rhode Island

Ph.D. in Computer Science Online

Kingston, RI


Tuition: $14,822

URI’s Ph.D. in computer science department serves undergraduates and postgraduates, including PhDs. The Ph.D. in computer science online is a research degree that provides the opportunity to complete a major research project that enhances the field of computer science. Their curriculum provides the expertise needed for a career in research-based innovation. Graduate courses are offered at convenient times for professionals. Students in the Ph.D. program typically conduct a major research project with one of the university’s research groups to produce new intellectual contributions to the computer science field.


  • Highly ranked graduate programs in computer science
  • Scheduling flexibility
  • 24/7 tech support for distance learners


  • Less diverse student body

#8 University of California, Berkeley

Online PhD Computer Science

Berkeley, CA


Tuition: $11,700

The University of California was founded in 1868. It has an impressive list of academic achievements and rankings. In the new rankings, Berkeley’s graduate programs placed first in the world from US News and World Report, including their Ph.D. program in computer science. Berkeley graduates have gone on to achieve high endeavors such as 20 Nobel Prizes, 30 recipients of the National Medal of Science and over 250 founders of companies. Graduate students represent 92 countries and all 50 states.

Berkeley’s EECS graduate programs have been ranked first and second in the US for excellence.

Berkeley’s graduates are highly satisfied with their education, and as a result, rank them very high on rating scale:

  • 90% overall (and 85% of those who pursued non-academic careers) say they were well prepared for their careers by Berkeley
  • 95% overall (and 93% of those who pursued non-academic careers) would pursue a doctoral degree again
  • 86% would select the same field of study
  • 95% would choose graduate study at Berkeley if they could start again


  • High student satisfaction rates
  • Top-ranked graduation programs
  • Prestigious university


  • More competitive

#7 Capitol Technical University

Online Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Technology

Laurel, MD


Tuition: $11,340

Capitol Technology University is a STEM-focused institution of higher education providing undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, information sciences, and technology leadership. CTU’s degrees offer flexibility with opportunities to grow and adapt to emerging workforce needs.

Capitol Technical University has three Ph.D. programs focusing on technology. Cybersecurity (DSc), technology Ph.D., and a technology combination program MS/Ph.D. (a unique program that offers a combination of a Ph.D. in technology and a master of science in research methods.)

Graduates will be positioned to contribute significantly to their fields by creating new knowledge and ideas. They’ll learn a skill set that will give them the tools to easily research and publish findings and present them in an accurate and professional manner.

Students work with Capitol Technical University first, then work independently on a research topic of publishable quality. They will gain knowledge in legal, political ethics and social aspects of their field. Some of CTU’s graduates are employed at government agencies and large corporations. Others have started their own tech companies. Out of hundreds of top-notch employers, a few standouts are the Department of Defense, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin.


  • Dual degree programs available
  • Flexible curriculum


  • Lower graduation rate
  • Less prestigious university

#6 Indiana University Bloomington

Ph.D. in Computer Science Online

Bloomington, IN


Tuition: $10,033

Maybe you immediately think of Hoosiers and basketball when you hear Indiana University. Along with that notoriety, Indiana University boasts of many other diverse achievements. Crest toothpaste was developed by three IU researchers. Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz came from IU, as did Nobel prize winners Mark Cuban (American businessman and owner of the Mavericks basketball team), a dozen pro-sports players, and actors and actresses like Oscar-winning actor Steve Tesich.

This University has a computer department that is very competitive with other universities. Indiana University has a world-class faculty with expertise in foundations such as algorithms, programming languages, parallel and distributed systems, cloud computing, networks, hardware, data mining, machine learning, intelligent systems, and security. The cross-disciplinary approach exposes you not only to the latest research in high-performance computing, data and search, artificial intelligence, and computer security, but also gives you the opportunity to apply those insights to real-world problems, from controlling pandemic disease to tracking the effects of climate change on polar ice.


  • Affordability
  • High graduation rate


  • Less diverse

#5 National University

Online PhD Computer Science

San Diego, CA


Tuition: $15,912

Northcentral University’s Ph.D. in technology and innovation management, specializing in computer science, is a 100% online program. Its specialization in teaching how a computer functions from the inside out, giving the inside track to understand the foundational technology in any information system fully. The NCU Ph.D. program students are mentored by PhDs who are specialists in the field because they are 100% doctoral faculty. Students also receive practical experience by being in the online classroom with exposure to the research community and, in turn, receive chances to present at conferences and seminars.

This is one of the most flexible universities we reviewed, offering weekly course starts, no scheduled lecture hours, no group assignments, weekly assignments, and the ability to schedule courses around a student’s personal and professional obligations. There is not a requirement to start at the beginning of a semester. North Central University does not require students to be on campus at all. This makes it easy for working professionals, as well as for military personnel and international students who will not have to relocate. North Central’s programs provide students with the opportunity to partner with a member of their 100% doctoral faculty in each of the courses. During the online Ph.D. in the computer science program, the student focuses their research on contributing new knowledge and theory to the body of knowledge in their field. North Central University offers two programs in computer science. They have an applied doctorate program where the student will focus their research on the practical application of knowledge and theory that already exists within their field. If a student is considering continuing their work in their field of choice by implementing their research in the field, the applied doctorate might be the right choice. If the student plans to contribute to their field through research and analysis, the Ph.D. program seems like the right choice.


  • Top-ranked graduate programs in information technology
  • 100% doctoral faculty
  • More diverse


  • Lower graduation rate

#4 Mississippi State University

Ph.D. in Computer Science Online

Mississippi State, MS

Tuition: $9,398

Mississippi State ranks among the top 50 best colleges in the South in Money Magazine’s “Best Colleges for Your Money” 2017 listing.

MSU is in the top 9 schools in the U.S. to hold all three of the National Security Agency’s centers of academic excellence awards. They are working closely with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and their researchers are using big-data analytics and high-performance computing to solve some of the nation’s top cybersecurity problems. Fixed on defeating the full spectrum of cyber attacks, Mississippi State’s National Science Foundation CyberCorps program is the 3rd largest in the country. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering has a strong presence in computing. The Miss. State Ph.D. specializes in research in traditional areas of computer science, cross-specialty areas, and interdisciplinary projects.

Recent graduates hold jobs at places like:

  • Microsoft Research
  • Palo Alto Research Center
  • Verari Systems Software
  • Fairmont State University
  • Jackson State University
  • Mississippi Valley State University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Tennessee Tech University


  • Smaller class sizes


  • Less diverse
  • Limited tech support

#3 Aspen University

Online PhD Computer Science

Denver, Colorado

Tuition: $3,900

Aspen’s Doctor of Science in Computer Science offers a responsibly priced distance Ph.D. in computer science. The program builds an understanding of theoretical concepts and practical applications of computer science in the context of advanced research and analysis methods relating to computer architecture and software design. Aspen also offers a special series of courses designed to aid them in developing, researching, and writing the doctoral dissertation.

Aspen offers tuition rates low enough that most of their students can afford to pay their tuition in cash or through a monthly payment plan, enabling their students to gain a financially responsible Ph.D.


  • Highly affordable
  • More diverse student body
  • Flexible curriculum


  • Less prestigious computer science programs

#2 University of Utah

Ph.D. in Computer Science Online

Salt Lake City, Utah

Tuition: $7,353

Dozens of University of Utah’s academic programs, including computer science, rank in the top 100 by U.S. News & World Report. About 50 students a year enter the Ph.D. program at the University of Utah. This University offers eight different tracks of computer science. These are:

  • Computer Engineering
  • Data Management and Analysis
  • Graphics and Visualization
  • Human-centered Computing (HCC) Track
  • Image Analysis
  • Networked Systems
  • Robotics
  • Scientific Computing

At least 50 hours of graduate coursework is required for the Ph.D. degree in computer science. This must comprise at least 27 hours of regular graduate coursework and at least 14 semester hours of dissertation research. Independent study and seminars cannot be used as part of the required 50 hours. Of the required 27 semester hours of regular courses, up to six hours may be graduate-level courses outside of the School of Computing.


  • Numerous specializations
  • Robust tech support


  • Lower graduation rate
  • Less diverse

#1 Dakota State University

Online Ph.D. in Information Systems

Madison, SD


Tuition: $5,999

Dakota State University specializes in computer management, computer information systems, and other related undergraduate and graduate programs. DSU started in 1881 as a school for teacher education, and it makes sure to keep that as a central focus, along with many other offerings now as well.

DSU offers three doctorates: a doctor of philosophy in cyber operations a doctor of philosophy in information systems, and a doctor of philosophy in computer science. There is an online option available through Dakota State University. Their distance Ph.D. in computer science allows students to take online courses. Students use various resources like DSU’s course management system and Desire2Learn to get assignments, lecture notes, and exams. Students schedule and work with their classmates in a virtual classroom.

Through these advanced graduate courses, Dakota State University students learn about:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Programming Languages
  • Mobile Applications
  • Computer Networks
  • Cybersecurity
  • Information Assurance
  • Office Automation
  • Bioinformatics
  • Software Development
  • Data Mining
  • Database Management Systems

Graduate coursework in operations research is offered and may be used to provide an operations research concentration to the Ph.D. program. Admissions to the Graduate College is a selective process based on those who are outstanding among recipients of baccalaureate degrees.

A distance Ph.D. in computer science from DSU is a great investment and is billed hourly. That means you’ll always only pay for the number of classes you can take.


  • Very affordable


  • Lower graduation rate
  • Less diverse

Earning Your Online Ph.D. in Computer Science FAQ:

What are my opportunities for a career with a computer science Ph.D. online?

  • Contract R&D organizations
  • Government laboratories
  • Lockheed-Martin, Pfizer, and Ford have high-tech or internal R&D sections that do PhD-level computer science work
  • Professor in any major tech university
  • Startup companies and consulting firms
  • Finance companies and hedge funds
  • Secure the teaching faculty position in some reputable institution
  • Postdoc research and publish papers and research articles
  • Dynamic organization working in the field of hardware and software development
  • Own a software house and explore the new and innovative software ideas
  • Organization working in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Google, Inc., Apple Computer, Inc., Microsoft Corp
  • Software engineer
  • Research scientist
  • Senior data scientist
  • Staff software engineer
  • Computer scientist
  • Principal software engineer

What can I expect to earn annually?

Expect to earn salaries of at least $105,000, potentially earning up to $150,000 and beyond.

How long will it take to complete my Ph.D. in computer science online?

The average time it will take for your Ph.D. is between 5–7 years. You should be able to do it in 3–4 years. 10 years is the maximum number of years most schools will allow you to complete a Ph.D. Time will vary depending on students’ schedules, their field requirements, and their chosen school.


  • NCES: College Navigator

CVO Staff

This concludes our ranking of the 10 Most Affordable Online Ph.D. in Computer Science Programs.