Whether, Why, and How to Get a Ph.D. in Computer Science

To Ph.D. or Not to Ph.D.

  1. How do you pay for a Ph.D.?
  2. How is a Ph.D. different than an MS?
  3. Should you get a master’s first?
  4. Can I do a Ph.D. part time?
  5. What kind of jobs can I get with a Ph.D.?


  1. How should I prepare for applying to a Ph.D. program?


  1. How does Ph.D. admissions work?
  2. What parts of my application matter most?
  3. How do I decide where to apply?
  4. What do Ph.D. program rankings mean?

What’s this?

This site collects and provides information about the why and how of getting a Ph.D. in computer science and closely related disciplines.

It was created by professors who advise Ph.D. students and current Ph.D. students. The information should be useful to anyone contemplating a Ph.D. at a university in the United States or Canada. It is a free service of the Computer Science Department at the University of California in San Diego, and it does not promote any particular school.

Our hope is that this information will be useful in deciding whether a Ph.D. is right for you and in guiding you through the application process.

Key Resources

In addition to the questions above, the site provides several resources:

  1. Online information sessions – Professors and Ph.D. students answer your questions, live (and on YouTube).
  2. A Blog with announcement and articles of interest.
  3. Other Resources – There are many other good resoures about CS Ph.D.s. We link to them throughout the site.


This is maintained by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. Send questions to swanson@cs.ucsd.edu.