ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Should I Pursue a PhD in Computer Science (CS)? Pros and Cons!

Updated on May 20, 2011

For some students it's clear that they wish to work in the industry after obtaining a degree in computer science, usually a bachelor degree or a master's degree. An alternative career path is to pursue a doctorate degree or PhD in computer science which roughly leads to either an academic career at universities or in the industry at research laboratories.

The decision of whether to pursue a PhD or not should not be taken lightly: the road is long and you must be thoroughly motivated to do research and to produce those publications. Also, just because you can do a PhD that does not mean you should. Having a PhD is not a requirement for a happy life although it might be just your thing if you like research and developing new technical knowledge.

How eager are you to do science?
How eager are you to do science? | Source

Why do a PhD in computer science?

Computer science is an interesting field because it combines technical ideas with practical applications. If you're a code monkey then developing software at a software company may be more suitable for you. If you're interested in advancing the state of the art at a big company with a research department, such as Google and Microsoft, then a PhD is a good choice.

If your ambition is to have an academic career at a university then a PhD is pretty much mandatory as it is a requirement to work there. If you are considering to join the industry then you must weigh the pros and cons of getting a PhD. For many jobs in computer science you'll become over-qualified when you have a PhD and employers may not hire you anymore unless it's a research position. Jobs may also be more difficult to find that match your desires, both at work and financially.

Basically it boils down to how much you like doing research and how much you're willing to give up to do it. Are you willing to put in the hours and the years in which you could have been earning a nice paycheck? If you have a strong desire to do research then a PhD is really for you. The academic world may seem safe and far away from real-world worries but it's good to evaluate whether you're best suited for the academic world or working in the industry.

There are many documents on the internet that discuss the issue in more detail and I suggest you read many of them. I have linked to some of them later in this article.


I think my conclusion is that if you're in doubt and you do not (yet) have a rock-solid reason to do a PhD then start working first. If one or two years of working experience teach you that it is not what you want then you can always look around for a PhD. You will be a lot more motivated to do the PhD when you know why you want it. It has also been said that the best PhD students are those with some working experience as they're more used to the realities of the system.

It's clear that there can be many wrong reasons to do a PhD. You shouldn't do is for any prestige or to prove your worth. Don't be afraid to say no, even when you are offered a PhD position at your current university. Ultimately, it'll be several years of your life that you are putting into it. I'm just saying this because there are indeed people who decide to do a PhD without giving any consideration to the other options available.

Useful links

Here are some useful links to articles that discuss the issue:

Have you done a PhD or are you considering to do a PhD? Why did you (not) pursue a doctorate degree in computer science? Post a comment below to share your opinion.

This article was written by Simeon Visser. I am earning money online by writing here at Would you like to earn money online as well? Read the success stories and sign up today to get started!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the article! Do you know more about the career possibilities with a PhD in CS, in terms of job security, jobs and wages? I refused a PhD scholarship a few months ago to go to work in the IT sector, but I might see myself coming back to this decision as I found my university studies way more fascinating than what I'm doing now.

    • simeonvisser profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks for your insights There is indeed the risk that you'll be working on something very theoretical that doesn't really help society. I'm still pondering what I should do. It may be better to work first to see what the real world is like. I can then decide whether to commit to a long-term research project in the academic world or not.

    • profile image 

      8 years ago

      This reminds me of my time at Uni - a long time ago - yes I got a scholarship and could have done a Phd but decided I should contribute back to society - but then I wasn't doing anything as practical as CS - I still think I made the right decision because even though you can get treated like crap in the real world for the acquired attitude that knowledge is really to know how much you don't know! (The rest of society seem to have a lot of difficulty with this!) but then the socalled real world does give you insights into what people really need, what they struggle with, how badly they can be treated and what Phds should be contributing to advance the lot and opportunities of others. Thanks for this article SimonVisser.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)