PhD Programs in Computer Science
Can I work while studying for my PhD in computer science?
In general, PhD programs, including the top computer science PhD programs, are designed for professionals who have begun their careers in the field and would like to expand their knowledge or perhaps transition to teaching computer science. Because of this, it makes sense for students to continue working while earning their computer science doctorate.
The most common line of work for PhD students in computer science is as researchers at their institution. Funding is usually provided through a fellowship, and you can either work at the university you are attending or at a different research institution. Students enrolled in accredited PhD computer science programs may also have the option of teaching in their university’s computer science department.
If you earned your bachelors or masters computer science degree online, you know the advantage that online study has when it comes to scheduling around your job. While the benefits of working while studying include continuing to advance in your career and earning a salary to supplement your financial aid, 1 of the main drawbacks is potential scheduling conflicts. Luckily, online courses tend to be more flexible, and will thus allow you to schedule your coursework around your job.
Are there any scholarships for traditional or online PhD students in computer science?
The most common type of scholarships for PhD students are actually fellowships, which are usually granted to PhD students to engage in specified research projects or internships, though they may cover general education costs as well.
While many nationwide scholarship programs are limited to undergraduate students, most of the best computer science PhD programs offer scholarships or fellowships through the university itself, and it is best to contact your college or university’s financial aid department as well as the computer science department office to learn what fellowships you are eligible for.
You should apply for a fellowship before you apply for a PhD program, in part because the application deadlines are usually earlier but also because students who receive fellowships are more attractive to graduate programs, meaning that at least some of the tuition is already paid for. It also means you can apply to programs with the highest computer science PhD ranking without having to wonder if the department provides funding.
There are several nationwide fellowships available to computer science PhD students. One of the most popular is the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which pays for 3 years of tuition plus a stipend. Another is the DOE Computational Science Fellowship, which covers up to 4 years of tuition plus a $36,000 yearly stipend.
Are there any notable people who have earned PhDs in computer science?
There have been many notable computer scientists throughout recent history, and if you are thinking of earning a doctorate in computer science, reading about their lives and careers may inspire you to enroll in an on-campus or online PhD in computer science program.
One of the first computer scientists in history, Alan Turing, earned his PhD from Princeton University in 1938. As a mathematician, cryptographer and early computer scientist, he is called the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
A more recent example of a notable computer science PhD holder was Edsger W. Dijkstra, a Dutch computer scientist who wrote several integral algorithms and greatly contributed to the early development of the field. He received his PhD from University of Amsterdam in 1959.
Barbara Liskov was the first woman in the United States to be awarded a PhD in computer science, which she received in 1968 from Stanford University. She has made many significant contributions, including to several programming languages, and currently teaches at MIT.
Another female computer scientist is Shafi Goldwasser, who earned her PhD in computer science from University of California, Berkeley in 1983. She has received the Gödel Prize in theoretical computer science twice.
Finally, 1 of the inventors of the UNIX operating system, W. Richard Stevens, received his PhD in systems engineering from the University of Arizona in 1982.
Do you recommend any computer science PhD student blogs that I should follow?
When considering which on-campus or online PhD computer science programs to apply to, you should not only look at a program’s PhD computer science ranking but also try to communicate with graduates of that program, whether in person, online or by simply reading their blogs.
One such computer science PhD student with a blog is Jean Yang, a fourth-year PhD student at MIT. In addition to already establishing herself as a top student by winning several fellowships and being published, Jean updates her blog with observations on academic life and what she’s reading.
The blog Memoirs of a CS Professor was formerly called Memoirs of a CS PhD Student, and if you go back in the archives you can read the trials and tribulations of Brian R. King from back when he was earning his doctorate. At the moment, Dr. King teaches at Bucknell University.
For The Female Perspective of Computer Science, you can read the blog of Gail Carmichael, a PhD student at Carleton University who researches educational games, narrative and augmented reality. She also founded her university’s Women in Science and Engineering group and often blogs about computer science education.
Jason’s Computer Science Blog is run by Jason Ernst, a computer science doctoral student at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Jason often blogs about his area of research, which is mobile and wireless networks.
Finally, a blog and comic worth reading if you need a few laughs while studying is Piled Higher and Deeper Comics. It’s a delightful comic series making light of the often-stressful lives of PhD students.