person holding a writing implement using a notepad, sitting in front of a computer

Doctoral Degree in Computer Science

Carnegie Mellon's Ph.D. in Computer Science is, above all, a research degree. When the faculty award a Ph.D., they certify that the student has a broad foundation and awareness of core concepts in computer science, has advanced the field by performing significant original research and has reported that work in a scholarly fashion.

When you begin our Ph.D. program, you’ll take the Introductory Course for Doctoral Students — an intense two week program that orients you to the department, introduces you to research and education topics our faculty are interested in, helps you find a faculty advisor and familiarizes you with Carnegie Mellon’s resources. Next, you’ll gain a broad understanding of fundamental research issues in major areas of computer science through coursework and original research. Finally, you’ll write and orally defend a thesis that guarantees you understand the area well enough to advance the state of knowledge in the field.

During the first two years of the program, you’ll gain the foundation of knowledge that will allow you to become an expert researcher in computer science, primarily by

  • Mastering a body of graduate material, achieved by passing 96 university units worth of graduate courses (equivalent to eight full-time courses).

  • Learning how to organize and begin to carry out original research, achieved by participating in directed research.

You will also serve as a teaching assistant, hone your writing and speaking skills and maintain your programming prowess. You’ll also receive periodic evaluation of your progress, and must make satisfactory progress to continue in the program.

Time Commitment:

As a Ph.D. student in computer science at CMU, you'll spend roughly five years acquiring a body of technical knowledge that includes a familiarity with the breadth of the field, as well as a deep understanding of your research area. From your second month in the program, you'll work closely with your faculty advisor, who is charged with guiding your education and monitoring your progress through the program. You'll take courses, teach and perform directed research — all to ensure that you leave Carnegie Mellon as an expert in your field. For a complete breakdown of our program requirements, read our Ph.D. Handbook.


Financial Information:

The Computer Science Department offers all Ph.D. students full financial support while they are in good academic standing in their respective programs. To learn more about Ph.D. funding, visit the SCS Doctoral Programs webpage.

Graduate Tuition:

Student Fees:

Carnegie Mellon Graduate Student Financial Aid: