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20 Most Affordable PhD in Computer Science Programs Online 2019

CVO-Most AffordablePursuing an affordable online PhD in computer science opens up exciting possibilities in areas that are afforded to only those with such a degree. 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 PhD will 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 spend time growing and working in the field that you love, completing a PhD in computer science online is right for you.

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 assure the safest and most reliable research and development. If you desire to teach Computer Science at a college level, obtaining this PhD 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 PhD in computer science degrees in the US 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 PhD from the college providing the online learning.

Ranking the 20 Most Affordable PhD in Computer Science Programs Online


This list is comprised of the 20 Most Affordable PhD in Computer Science Programs Online for 2019. We gave them their number ranking solely on the basis of their latest reported average graduate student tuition found on the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool. Only universities that reported a Doctoral Program in Computer Science with a Distance Learning or Online Option were considered.

Here are 20 Most Affordable Online PhD in Computer Science Programs for 2019:

#20 Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering

Online PhD in Computer Science

Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering PhD in Computer Science

The Whiting School of Engineering offers an PhD in computer science 100% online.


Johns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, Maryland has been an outstanding university for many years. For over 140 years, the students and faculty have joined efforts in discovery and innovation which has led to incredible achievements. Inventing the first rubber gloves used for surgeries, creating the first supersonic RamJet engine, helping with the research in developing the Polio vaccine, and their researchers landing the first spacecraft onto an asteroid are just some of the many accomplishments out of JHU. There are many fields of study that this university offers, with computer science being one of them.

Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering matches PhD candidates with faculty advisors based on mutual research interests, as well as setting up a PhD committee of three for each student to give cogent advice to them throughout the program. You can expect to receive a strong, independent research skill set and be able to develop your skills and reputation as a member of the research community. This program is flexible with a 100% online computer science PhD program option.

The computer science PhD program takes about 5-6 years in total, though the duration varies depending on the student and the advisor.

As far as financial support, as long as you remain in full-time student status and are in “good” academic standing, you will be given full support – in the form of either a Research Assistantship (RA) or a Teaching Assistantship (TA) – for the duration of your online CS PhD. Johns Hopkins Department of Computer Science’s website gives an in-depth look at its financial support setup.

When you leave JHU’s online computer science program, you will be well-equipped and ready to work amongst the greatest in the field. Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Apple aggressively recruit their well-rounded graduates.

Tuition: $52,170

#19 Columbia University

PhD Computer Science Online

New York, NY

Columbia University PhD Computer Science

Most PhD in computer science students are offered full funding, with some classes available online.


Columbia University was founded in 1754. It is the 5th oldest university in the United States. Along with many fields of study, Columbia has an excellent Computer Science Department.

Columbia Engineering, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science has over 50 faculty awards and honors such as a Faraday Medal (IET) and a spot in the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame. It is in the Top 15 in the Computer Sciences Rankings For Colleges. They had 4 papers presented at Crypto2018 as well as 4 new algorithms accepted to Foundations of Computer Science (FCS) symposium.

Columbia offers a broad range of upper-level courses such as Artificial Intelligence, Databases, Computer Architecture, Computational Complexity and the Analysis of Algorithms, and many more.

Although PhD students are required to be on campus during the fall and spring semesters, they receive full funding (tuition and stipend) from either a Columbia University Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) position or an external fellowship. Students are not required to be on campus during the summers and are often encouraged by their advisor to accept summer internships outside Columbia at some point during their progress through the doctoral program. A total of ten courses are required. All ten courses must be completed by the end of the fifth semester, at the pace of two courses per semester.

A small number of courses offer “cumulative final exams” that may be taken by PhD students in lieu of enrolling for the course. These courses are announced mid-semester, with the exams offered at the end of the semester. All other courses must be taken for a letter grade, not audited.

Columbia believes that engineering is in a renaissance and that the time is now for engineering to step forward as a force for the future to create a sustainable, healthy, connected, secure, and creative humanity.

Tuition: $44,864

#18 Syracuse University

Online Computer and Information Science PhD or Online Electrical and Computer Engineering PhD

Syracuse, NY

Syracuse University's Online PhD in Computer Science

Secure cutting edge opportunities nationally and internationally with Syracuse University’s online PhD in computer & information science.


Syracuse University is a private research university of extraordinary academics and distinctive offerings. It has a College of Engineering of Computer Science that stresses their enthusiasm for the cutting edge opportunities available in global and social issues by stating these fundamental attributes of Syracuse engineers and computer scientists: “Inquisitive. Creative. Solutionist.” Their PhD program offers degrees in computer and information science (CISE) and electrical and computer engineering (ECE). The CISE doctoral program targets those students with research interests in topics generally associated with computer and information science and with software aspects of the computer engineering field. You’ll leave with command of recalling, comprehending, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating ideas. You will also be able to communicate ideas effectively, write papers, dissertations, and proposals in a professional and well-written manner. Lastly, you will have the ability to accurately present technical presentations clearly.

A student in the CISE doctoral program must demonstrate competence by completing coursework in at least three of the following areas:

  • Algorithms
  • Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Hardware Systems
  • Logic and Theory of Computation
  • Operating Systems
  • Programming Languages and Compilers
  • Software Systems

The current doctoral program is comprised of a total of 52 credits, 48 in technical courses and 4 in non-technical courses.

Tuition: $36,000

#17 University of Pennsylvania

Online PhD in Computer and Information Science

Philadelphia, PA

University of Pennsylvania Online PhD in Computer Science

Develop your own advanced study focus in your online PhD in computer and information science program at the University of Pennsylvania.


“Penn has a long and proud tradition of intellectual rigor and pursuit of innovative knowledge… That tradition lives today through the creativity, entrepreneurship, and engagement of our faculty, students, and staff.”

-Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania

UPenn was founded by Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield in 1740.

In the field of computer science, Penn Engineering offers a CIS (computer and information science) doctorate. Not only does the doctoral program offer the disciplines related to modern information processing, but a research department that expands interests in topics such as Robotics, Vision, Natural Language Processing, Databases, Formal Methods, Real-time Systems, Computer Architecture, Machine Learning, Programming Languages, Graphics, Network Security, Software Engineering, Bioinformatics, along with collaborations in Biology, Genetics, Linguistics, Mathematics, and Electrical Engineering. Students develop their own advanced study focus while working with mentors from the University.

CIS benchmarks for satisfactory progress towards the PhD:

  • CIS PhD Program Requirements
  • Enrollment/Worksheet
  • Research Affiliation Process
  • Written Preliminary Examination (WPE) I and II
  • Teaching Practicum
  • Thesis Proposal Approval
  • Thesis Proposal Defense
  • Scheduling and Announcements of Public Presentations
  • Defense of the Dissertation

*There is a more in-depth look at the doctoral requirements and summaries on UPenn’s website.

Penn Computer and Information Science is a research leader in several areas and has influenced products from Apple and Google.

Tuition: $33,604

#16 Clarkson University

PhD in Computer Science Online

Potsdam, NY

Earn a PhD in computer science online from a school recognized to increase earning potential in graduates.


Clarkson prides itself in understanding the variety of students entering the graduate program. Whether an entrepreneur, parent, future doctor or teacher, a PhD degree in computer science is attainable through this flexible program. Clarkson offers a distance PhD in computer science. They also offer full-time or part-time depending on what works best for you. Their courses range from theoretical to the applied. This university is known worldwide for data analytics, STEM, and entrepreneurial education all while allowing students to pursue their individual interests. Clarkson’s network spans to over 380 active partners in industry, government agencies, chambers of commerce, and research organizations.

The requirements for their PhD in computer science are:

  • A minimum of 90 credit hours earned for graduate courses numbered 500 and higher, including at least 36 credit hours of classroom and instructional laboratory coursework (this is above the university minimum of 24).
  • A minimum of 6 credit hours from a research seminar.
  • A maximum of 30 credit hours of graduate transfer credit from an MS degree with grades of a B or higher may be accepted toward the degree.
  • At least three full academic years of study beyond the baccalaureate degree, with at least two years in residence in Clarkson.
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in courses used to meet graduation requirements.
  • Graduate students must complete the PhD candidacy procedure within two years of full-time study after admission to the PhD program.
  • Doctoral candidates must complete an original research project submitted as a written thesis to be orally presented and approved before a committee of at least five faculty members.
  • All work for the PhD degree must be completed within seven years after admission to candidacy.

Clarkson education was placed in the top 10 universities nationwide for increasing their students’ lifetime earnings potential by the independent think tank, The Brookings Institution.

Tuition: $32,280

#15 Penn State University

PhD Online in Computer Science and Engineering

University Park, PA

Penn State PhD in Computer Science

Get an online PhD in Computer Science & Engineering at Penn State World Campus’s online learning, one of the largest graduate school programs.


“This is Penn State.” Penn State University ranks in the top one percent of universities worldwide consistently. From access to state-of-the-art resources to interdisciplinary pursuits in collaborative atmospheres, a Penn State degree is more than just an education.

Penn State’s College of Information System Technology offers a diverse range of academic backgrounds ranging from Computer Science to Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Philosophy, and more. Penn State has one of the largest graduate school programs, with around 14,000 students. The Information System Technology Program offers graduate degrees and certificates that are industry-focused and practitioner-informed through Penn State World Campus’s Online Learning. Students are required to take between 21-33 credits depending on whether they come in with an MS or not. Penn State’s website goes into detail about the courses and their credits.

Financially, Penn State helps their students keep it affordable with their educational platform called GradSense. It’s available to help prospective students make the most fiscally responsible education choices. All PhD students are also funded their first year in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or fellowships. These assistantships include a stipend for living expenses, full tuition coverage, and health benefits. Historically, students have been funded through their 4-year program, dependent upon their academic status. So, this is an affordable option as well.

Tuition: $20,732

#14 Nova Southeastern University

PhD in Computer Science Online

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southestern University Online PhD in Computer Science

Nova Southeastern University’s online degrees allow for flexibility to complete programs without career interruption.


Nova Southeastern University was founded in 1964 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It was first called “Nova University of Advanced Technology” as a graduate program for physical and social sciences. It has grown into a much larger university with added programs in law, education, business, psychology, engineering and computing, and oceanography.

NSU’s College of Engineering and Computing has distinct specializations and has a top-notch national reputation. They moved up 7 rankings this year to #191 in US News and World Report Best Colleges 2019. NSU proudly holds spots in CEC’s best ranked online colleges and NAS’s list of Top 10 Cyber Security colleges.

Nova Southeastern University’s online degree programs allow for flexibility to complete degree programs without career interruption. The PhD in computer science online program is very compatible for those in industry, education, or government who are involved with one of the areas in computer science or information technology. It is offered fully online. The doctor of philosophy (PhD) in computer science entails eight core courses followed by research courses leading to the dissertation with a minimum of 64 credit hours. In addition, students conduct two defenses: a formal proposal outlining proposed research (during early research) and their final dissertation.

Concentrations in the graduate programs cover fields of urgent need, such as cyber security, software engineering, and data science. NSU stays up to date with the ever-changing industry. You will leave with the ability to develop creative solutions to real-world problems.

Tuition: $18,932

#13 University of Minnesota

Online PhD in Computer Science

Minneapolis, MN

University of Minnesota Online PhD in Computer Science 2019

Get an online PhD in computer science from Minnesota University, a school that holds awards and honors in teaching and researching nationally and globally.


The University of Minnesota is number 8 in research among all US public universities and was ranked by Forbes as one of the top 10 educational employers in the nation.

University of Minnesota’s computer science and engineering program has played a leadership role in the formation of several industrial consortia such as the Center for Research in Intelligent Storage (CRIS) and the Safety, Security, Rescue Research Center (SSR-RC). They hold awards and honors in teaching and research nationally and globally. Their CS&E program graduates nearly 500 students yearly, including about 25 with a doctorate in computer science. It also receives generous support from local industry through their Industry Advisory Council (IAC), a group of industry representatives working with the department to enhance their educational, research, and student placement efforts.

The graduate program in computer science offers coursework from across a broad spectrum of theoretical and applied computer science, combined with research opportunities in nearly all areas of the field. Faculty members teach students in areas ranging from algorithms and theoretical computer science; numerical, parallel, and high-performance computing; distributed computing and systems; artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer vision; databases and data mining; human-computer interaction and information systems; graphics and visualization; software engineering and programming languages; computer architecture and compilers; networking; bio-informatics and computational biology; machine learning; and computer security. Additionally, students may choose a course of study that integrates research in computer science with applications in other fields. The University of Minnesota prepares students to meet the great challenges of the nation and the world.

Tuition: $16,728

#12 Capella University

Online PhD in Information Technology / Doctor of Information Technology

Minneapolis, MN

Capella University's Online PhD in Computer Science

Graduate with an inexpensive PhD in information technology online from Capella University, where 91% of their alumni say their flexibility gave them the power to graduate on schedule.


Capella University is known for its quality education in a time-effective and affordable manner. They have a simple university model offering two different learning formats: GuidedPath and FlexPath.

You can expect a degree from this accredited university that will be respected by employers, gives you skills and expertise that can immediately apply to your career, and has a faculty who are distinguished leaders in their field.

Capella University is acknowledged by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a national center of academic excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense (CAE IA/CD) for academic years 2014–2021. Capella’s online programs are accredited by the Project Management Institute’s (PMI®) Global Accreditation Center for Project Management (PMI-GAC).

91% of alumni said Capella gave them the flexibility to graduate on schedule. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program.

These are the courses they offer in their online PhD in Computer Science to complete your graduate learning. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program.

PhD in Information Technology / Doctor of Information Technology Specializations:

  • Information Technology
  • Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
  • Information Technology Education
  • Project Management

Capella also offers a $5000 Doctorate of Information Technology Scholarship.

Tuition: $14,365

#11 Colorado Technical Institute

PhD in Computer Science Online

Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Technical University Online PhD Computer Science 2019

Colorado Technical Institute’s low-cost PhD in computer science online degree program, on the Best Online Programs list by U.S. News World Report, gives an in-depth study of specialized subjects, which allows graduates to predict trends and contribute to their expertise.


Colorado Technical Institute’s mission statement is to provide industry-relevant higher education to a diverse student population through innovative technology and experienced faculty, enabling the pursuit of personal and professional goals. CTI’s online degree program has been ranked on the Best Online Programs lists by U.S. News and World Report, named among the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018, and a 2018 WOW Recipient.

Colorado Technical Institute offers an online PhD in computer science degree program with a schedule that is flexible and helps you build your classes around your schedule. There are also grants and scholarships available upon qualifications, so it can be affordable and attainable. CTU’s doctorate in computer science degree program gives an in-depth study of specialized subjects, which will allow you to predict trends and contribute to your expertise.

Colorado Technical Institute offers a computer science doctorate in several niches. The coursework is rigorous and challenging, but you’ll have online tools and mentors to help you master the material in a timely manner, ideally in just three years.

Doctorate in computer science specializations:

  • Big Data Analytics
  • Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
  • Enterprise Information Systems
  • General (DCS)

Doctorate in computer science requirements:

  • An online curriculum with a residency component
  • Multiple start dates throughout the year
  • An opportunity to complete the program in three years
  • Dissertation development integrated into the program
  • In-person symposium experiences

The University’s president, Andrew Hurst, says, “In a technology-driven world, it’s imperative that our students are exposed to advanced technology. At CTU we embrace new technology and use it in innovative ways to enhance your learning experience. We offer you the advantage of connectivity, interactivity, and freedom of choice. From multiple classroom delivery options and mobile access to your coursework to social networking, you can engage in a true university experience whether you study on campus, online or a combination of both, and CTU is committed to your ongoing personal discovery and professional achievement.”

Tuition: $13,393

#10 University of South Carolina

PhD in Computer Science Online

Columbia, SC

University of South Carolina Online PhD Computer Science

Graduate from the University of South Carolina’s PhD in computer science online and leave with endless career possibilities.


Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina has a rich history of more than 200 years of academic leadership. It’s one of only 32 public universities to earn the Carnegie Foundation’s top-tier designations in research activity and community engagement.

The College of Engineering and Computing was established in 1961 and offers many degrees in many different technological facets. Their degree program prepares graduates for careers in research within the industry, university-level teaching, and research. Graduates can have careers in: entrepreneurship, web applications, computer graphics, video games, enterprise computing, embedded systems, network administration, mobile applications, computer security, computer vision, computational biology, high performance (super) computing, scientific modeling, database systems, computer animations, wireless networks, artificial intelligence, etc. Many of the projects and research performed in this PhD 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.

Degree Requirements: 60 post-baccalaureate hours.

Tuition: $12,854

#9 University of Rhode Island

PhD in Computer Science Online

Kingston, RI

University of Rhode Island's Online PhD in Computer Science

Get the expertise needed for a career of research-based innovation with University of Rhode Island’s affordable PhD in computer science online degree.


The University of Rhode Island was established in 1888 as an Agricultural Experiment Station and agricultural school and has grown and expanded, offering many degrees in all areas of academia. Currently, URI is launching an Alzheimer’s drug trial that would change the outcome of how we treat Alzheimer’s. URI’s Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center earned a designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

URI’s PhD of computer science department serves undergraduates and postgraduates, including PhDs. The PhD in computer science is a research degree that provides the student with the opportunity to complete a major research project that enhances the field of computer science. Their curriculum provides the expertise needed for a career of research-based innovation. Their graduate courses are offered at convenient times for professionals. Students in the PhD 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.

The PhD in computer science program requirements are: the student must complete 54 credits of course work beyond the bachelor’s degree in addition to 18 credits for the doctoral dissertation. A student entering the program with an M.S. degree in computer science or a related area may be granted up to 30 credits toward the PhD in computer science. Students must complete: two courses from Mathematical Foundations, one course from Programming Languages, two courses from Architecture and Systems, and three more approved CSC courses or equivalents. Students will have to take a comprehensive examination in written and oral form. Time of completion for full-time students is 4 years and varies for the part-time student. Classes are offered online.

Tuition: $12,854

#8 University of California, Berkeley

Online PhD in Computer Science

Berkeley, CA

UC Berkeley Online PhD Computer Science

An online PhD in computer science from Berkeley gives you a degree that comes from a school’s program that ranks first in the nation in their computer science department.


The University of California was founded in 1868. It has an impressive list of academic achievements and rankings. Its excellence is evidenced by its standings in worldwide reports. In the new rankings, Berkeley’s graduate programs placed first in the world from US News and World Report, including their PhD 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.

The Berkeley PhD in EECS combines coursework and original research with some of the finest EECS faculty in the US preparing for careers in academia or industry. Their alumni have gone on to hold amazing positions around the world. Berkeley EECS graduate programs rank first and second in the nation and provide one of the best educational experiences anywhere.

Berkeley provides students a high level of satisfaction from their graduate education and the value of their PhDs:

  • 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

Tuition: $11,502

#7 Capitol Technical University

Online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Technology

Laurel, MD

Capitol Technical University Online PhD in Computer Science

Work with top-notch employers like the Department of Defense, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin like the other online PhD in technology graduates of Capitol Technical University who have gone on to work with such employers.


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. It has virtual classroom programs of outstanding quality.

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

Graduates will be able 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.

Tuition: $10,800

#6 Indiana University Bloomington

PhD in Computer Science Online

Bloomington, IN

Indiana University Online PhD in Computer Science

A unique disciplinary approach to this PhD in computer science online degree in Indiana University Bloomington opens up dozens of opportunities in solving real-world problems like controlling pandemic disease and tracking the effects of climate change in polar ice.


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, inventor, author, 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. Students at IU Bloomington’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering are given the opportunity to research theoretically and practically on a broad range of subfields of computer science. They offer the intersecting of computer science and other disciplines such as biology, cognitive science, and statistics. Indiana University Bloomington is evolving each year in response to faculty and student interests. They are open to discussing your educational goals if you don’t see a curriculum that fits your particular interest. 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 to the university’s method 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 anything from controlling pandemic disease to tracking the effects of climate change on polar ice.

Tuition: $8,956

#5 North Central University

Online PhD in Computer Science

San Diego, CA

North Central University Online PhD in Computer Science

North Central University is one of the most flexible universities for an affordable online PhD in computer science in the nation, with the ability to schedule courses around a student’s personal and professional obligations.


North Central University’s PhD in technology and innovation management specialized in computer science is a 100% online program. It stands out with its specialization in teaching how a computer functions from the inside out, giving the inside track to fully understand the foundational technology in any information system. Students in the NCU PhD program are mentored by PhDs who are specialists in the field because they are a 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 also has no physical residency requirements, which makes it a great fit for working professionals, as well as for military personnel and international students who will not have to relocate or spend money to travel to a campus to complete the online degree.

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 PhD in 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 researching and analyzing new theories and solutions, the PhD program might be the right choice.

The course requirements are 60 credit hours over 20 courses, which takes an average of 50 months to complete. North Central’s website gives educational guidelines to help you understand their doctoral program and writing your dissertation.

Financially, they have several different payment plan options. These are listed on NCU’s website.

Tuition: $8,550

#4 Mississippi State University

PhD in Computer Science Online

Mississippi State, MS

Mississippi State's Online PhD in Computer Science 2019

Enroll in one of the cheapest online PhD in computer science programs around at Mississippi State University–ranked top 50 “Best Colleges For Your Money” 2017 by Money Magazine.


Mississippi State has a list of achievements that spans all areas of education nationally and globally. From medicine to agriculture, to meteorology, to airspace innovations, MSU contributes to the betterment of our society. Mississippi State ranks among the top 50 best colleges in the South in Money Magazine’s “Best Colleges for Your Money” 2017 listing.

Their computer science department stays true to the excellence of the university. They are recognized nationally for their leadership in cybersecurity. MSU is one of only nine schools in the U.S. to hold all three of the National Security Agency’s centers of academic excellence credentials: CAE-Cyber Defense Education, CAE-Cyber Defense Research, and CAE-Cyber Operations. They are working in close collaboration 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. Mississippi State University researchers are partnering with utility leader Entergy Corporation to develop software programs that make the nation’s electric grid more reliable and help determine a site’s ability to power current and future economic development needs. Robotic technology pioneered by MSU computer engineers brings healing to children and adults recovering from abusive situations or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. MSU engineers are at the forefront of autonomous vehicle design, developing and testing solutions that will make cars safer through advanced technologies such as sensors and artificial intelligence.

Mississippi State’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering has a strong presence in the computing world. Their faculty has experts in their fields of study, and many are nationally known for their contributions within the scientific community. Their research projects are known for pushing the envelope and earn them a reputation of being cutting edge because they pursue and are awarded research grants from a number of different federal funding agencies and private industries to support their projects with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. The university offers a PhD directly from either a bachelor’s or an M.S degree. The curriculum is flexible to match your interests. The Miss. State PhD specializes in research in traditional areas of computer science, cross-specialty areas, and inter-disciplinary projects.

Mississippi State University is a comprehensive, doctoral degree-granting institution with a nationally and internationally diverse student body. Mississippi State also operates an off-campus degree-granting center in Meridian where both undergraduate and graduate programs are offered.

Recent graduates work for Microsoft Research, Palo Alto Research Center, Verari Systems Software, Fairmont State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Nova Southeastern University, and Tennessee Tech University.

Tuition: $8,208

#3 Aspen University

Online PhD in Computer Science

Denver, Colorado

Aspen University PhD in Computer Science Online 2019

The doctor of science in computer science at Aspen University offers a responsibly priced, nationally accredited online PhD in computer science.


Aspen University moved to Colorado in 1993, and the University was successful in acquiring national accreditation with the Distance Education and Training Council, now the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Aspen’s mission is to offer any motivated college-worthy student the opportunity to receive a high quality education for the purpose of achieving sustainable economic and social benefits for themselves and their families.

The doctor of science in computer science at Aspen offers a responsibly priced distance PhD 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 achieves their economic responsibility goal by offering tuition rates low enough that a majority of their students will not incur debt through utilization of federal financial aid. They offer tuition rates low enough that a majority of students will be able to afford to pay tuition in cash or through a monthly payment plan (maintaining Federal Financial Aid revenues below 50%). Aspen also offers a monthly payment method, with the doctorate monthly payment amount around $375/month.

Tuition: $6,975

#2 University of Utah

PhD in Computer Science Online

Salt Lake City, Utah

University of Utah Online PhD in Computer Science

Get an affordable online PhD in computer science from the University of Utah’s computer science program, ranked in the Top 100 academic programs by U.S. News and World Report.


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 PhD program at the University of Utah. This University offers 8 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, and Scientific Computing.

Course requirements:

At least 50 hours of graduate coursework is required for the PhD degree in computer science. This must be composed of 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. Up to 20 hours of coursework taken elsewhere or counted toward previous degrees can be counted toward the 27-hour regular course requirement with the approval of the Track Director. PhD students must also demonstrate core knowledge in computer science. University of Utah’s website lists these requirements in detail.

Excellence is the University of Utah’s mission in their school of computing.

Tuition: $6,725

#1 Dakota State University

Online PhD in Information Systems

Madison, SD

Dakota State University's Online PhD in Computer Science

A distance PhD in Information Systems from Dakota State University is a great investment as our cheapest online CS PhD.


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 2 doctorates: doctor of philosophy in cyber operations and doctor of philosophy in information systems. There is an online option available through Dakota State University. Their distance PhD in computer science allows students to take the courses entirely online, from anywhere. Students use a variety of resources such as DSU’s course management system and Desire2Learn to get assignments, lecture notes, and exams. Student’s schedule and work with their classmates in a virtual classroom.

Through these advanced graduate courses, Dakota State University students get an in-depth study of artificial intelligence, programming languages, mobile applications, computer networks, cybersecurity, information assurance, office automation, bioinformatics, software development, data mining, and database management systems. Graduate coursework in operations research is offered and may be used to provide an operations research concentration to the PhD program. Admissions to the Graduate College is a selective process based on those who are outstanding among recipients of baccalaureate degrees.

A distance PhD in computer science from DSU is a great investment and is billed by the hour. That means you’ll always only pay for the number of classes you’re able to take. Dakota State University is the cheapest online PhD in computer science according to College Navigator.

Tuition: $5,665


Naval Post-Graduate School

Online PhD in Systems Engineering (SEPhD)

Monterey, CA

Naval Postgraduate School's Online PhD in Computer Science 2019

Naval Post-Graduate School’s Systems Engineering program provides relevant and unique advanced education and research programs to increase effectiveness of the US and Allied Armed Forces.


The mission of the computer science program is to provide relevant and unique advanced education and research programs to increase the effectiveness of the US and Allied Armed Forces. The Naval Post-Graduate School provides officers who use computational processes to analyze and design solutions to complex problems.

  • Cyber Security & Defense CSD
  • Network and Mobility
  • Autonomous Systems and Data Science
  • Software Engineering
  • Cyber Operations
  • Model and Simulation

Tuition: $0 (Acceptance provided almost exclusively to officers of the US Armed Forces)

Earning Your Online PhD in Computer Science FAQ:

What are my opportunities for a career with a computer science PhD online ?

  • Contract R&D organizations
  • Government laboratories
  • Government agencies need PhD-level people to help manage their R&D portfolios, either directly as program managers or via private-sector contractors
  • 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
  • Post doc 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, with the potential to earn up to $150,000 and beyond.

How long will it take to complete my PhD in computer science online?

The average time it will take for your PhD 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 take to finish a PhD. Time will vary depending on the supervisor, field of specialization, institute, type of program (full time/part time) and your own research progress.

CVO Staff
February 2019


This concludes our ranking of the 20 Most Affordable Online PhD in Computer Science Programs for 2019.

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