If you had a doctorate in computer science or information technology, what could that do for your career? IT doctoral degree holders can become college professors, research scientists or senior executives at a technology company—only just a few of the possibilities. If you want a PhD and have the desire to succeed both academically and professionally, this may be the right time for you to look into doctoral study programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment growth in the computer science and information technology industry will be faster average through 2020. Salaries for PhD holders are also often significantly more than that of those who have earned only a bachelor’s degree. The BLS recently reported that professionals with doctorates across all occupations earned a median weekly salary of $1,624 in 2012, which was 52% higher than bachelor’s degree holders and amounted to a $29,016 difference annually.
What Does a Doctorate in Information Technology Entail?
If your bachelor’s or master’s degree is in a related field and you have a skill set which includes analytical thinking and problem-solving ability, you can pursue a doctorate in computer science or information technology. The doctoral degree is a prestigious level of educational attainment, with only 1.6% of the US population over the age of 25 holding a doctorate in 2012 (US Census Bureau).
Depending on your career interests and prior education, you will have to decide on your area of study. The more common IT degree disciplines are information technology and computer science, although you could earn a doctorate in a range of other areas, including network and security administration and database management.
Once you have decided which subject area you would like to pursue your doctorate, you will also have to choose between a DBA and a PhD. A Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) is typically suited for individuals who want to pursue a career in academics, while a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) is designed for students who would like to pursue a career in the profession.
A doctorate in information technology or computer science will usually take 3-5 years of study, depending on the particular program and student, and will generally culminate with a research dissertation in conjunction with a thesis advisor at the completion of the course requirements.
For students who have always wanted to earn their IT or computer science PhD but have been hampered by personal and professional obligations preventing them from returning to school full-time, there are programs with flexible course scheduling, including evening and weekend classes. Online programs are also becoming increasingly more prevalent at the doctoral level and follow a similar course of study as those in a traditional classroom setting.
The advantage of an online study program is that it allows students to earn their doctorate in computer science at their own speed, without having to worry about rushing to campus to attend class at the same time each week. Like face-to-face programs, in the online environment, you will have opportunities to network with other students and professors, as well as work with a thesis advisor who will assist you in your dissertation topic selection and offer advice on independent research. The convenience of an online program of study makes the prospect of earning a doctorate in information technology or computer science a realizable goal for those with busy lives.
Which Program Should I Choose?
Before selecting a program, research the available options and interview the faculty to be certain that your doctorate in computer science is fully accredited and matches your interests. You might also want to review government statistics about careers in the IT industry to determine which are projected to have the highest growth.
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