CompSci PhD

powerfoolpowerfool Senior MemberMember Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
Has anyone here completed a PhD in Computer Science?  If so, without having a Computer Science BSc?

My undergrad is in InfoSys and I have a MSc in CyberSecurity Policy.  I have started adjunct teaching and it is pretty interesting.  I don't know that I want to go beyond adjunct, but having the option would be great as a "retirement" sort of position.  In any event, I am also starting to shift towards development work.  I achieved the Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification last year and there is only so much value that you can have working with customers doing Governance, Migration, and high-level rearchitecting applications for cloud.  I think I need to get my hands a little more dirty with respect to the code.

With that said, I began my life in IT doing development work, mostly in the web space, starting with HTML/CSS/JavaScript in the mid-90s, then I picked up Java and PHP.  I have dabbled in C/C++ having hacked together some minor mods for Apache and the Linux kernel to do very minimal things, in the early 00s.  I can maintain code in Visual Basic and do "developer grade" PowerShell (full advanced functions incorporating .NET, Pester for unit testing, writing out modules with full documentation, posting the PSGallery, etc.).  So, I am not entirely green with respect to dev work, but none of it has been strictly formal.  I have gone through some OpenCourseware stuff from MIT and tried to get a better understanding of algorithms.

If I were to pursue a PhD in CompSci, or at least want the ability to apply and not be rejected, where should I be?  Should I get beyond my Calculus I and Stats in terms of mathematics?  Do I need a BSc in CompSci?  Would maybe completing an ASc in CompSci along with my other work be enough?

I enjoy learning, so that isn't an issue.  With respect to adjunct teaching, I get to take courses with free tuition, but between my primary job, the adjunct teaching, and some side gigs that I pull, I don't have a ton of time to dedicate to courses (and I only get 6 credit hours per semester, anyhow).  I do also think a PhD could really help me stand out if I wanted a serious job at Microsoft or AWS with respect to do this sort of work.
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Comments

  • VictorVictor5VictorVictor5 Member Member Posts: 72 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @powerfool I don't have a PhD in Comp Sci, but mine is in Electrical and Computer Engineering. While the fields are different, they do overlap depending on your area. I do have a minor in Comp Sci from undergrad. And my dissertation did involve some serious comp sci skills.

    Now if my post sounds critical, it is meant to be, because as one who holds this degree, I want to make sure this is what you want. Call it "tough love." I respect all of you on here, and if I didn't care, I wouldn't be so thorough in this post. That, and I owe it to my degree. Yes, mine sure did not come easy, and yes I worked very hard at it. This is not something to take on just because you want some "retirement" position to better your adjunct-ness (but I do dig the Microsoft/AWS last sentence). I want to prepare you for possibilities you may face. Please don't take offense. Better you hear it from me, a complete stranger, than a university.

    If I were on an admissions committee, my concern would be that you do not have the prerequisite courses to obtain a PhD in Comp Sci (obviously without knowing your bachelor's curriculum in IS). To put it in another way, say I was an Elementary Ed major in undergrad. Afterwards, I decided that I wanted a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Well, I'm going to need documented proof that I understand things like circuits, electromagnetics, calculus, and the like. My Elementary Ed curriculum won't cut it (obviously). I can say I reviewed AllAboutCircuits and messed around with a TI board here and there, but where are the results? Where's the proof? Is it published in a peer-reviewed journal article or conference paper? You're going to have to make a strong argument.

    Unfortunately, prerequisites are prerequisites. You may be able to waive some, but I highly doubt all. The math should be good (you may need Calc II, and maybe, emphasis on maybe, Linear Algebra for matrix calculations), but you're more than likely going to need courses in Comp Sci. Why? Outside of documentation, how good are you? Can you understand OOP (as an example)? Sure, anyone can code. I can pay X amount to a coding academy for 6 weeks and "code." 

    Realize that as part of your PhD studies you're going to have to take courses anyway, as well as do research. Also, you'll need to complete (a) a qualifying exam, (b) a dissertation proposal, and (c) your defense. While you can take an undergrad course during graduate school (I did because I needed to learn a particular language that I didn't do in undergrad), it is rare. One course is doable, but it cannot substitute your entire PhD curriculum. You are expected to know the skills (again, mine was a one-off, and it turns out I didn't need that language for my dissertation anyway :\ ).

    If you think that you're going to get a PhD without doing research, then look into online for-profit colleges. If you go that route, I can 100% guarantee you that your PhD will mean nothing in the academic world. 

    Now, let's assume I was your PhD advisor.

    The key to a PhD is original work. Key question: Can you bring a novel work to the field and become an expert at it? Just because you "dabbled" in C/C++ or hacked something on Apache and did PowerShell....yeah, we've done that. That's called SANS training (well the PowerShell bit). Visual Basic work I did in undergrad for 3D electromagnetic fields, and that was bachelor's work. And the OpenCourseware from MIT, awesome, but what does that mean to me? So what that it's MIT? Does the hacking you did in Apache lead to something novel? In other words, is it something that no one, to your knowledge, has done, even after you researched the topic? Or your work in PowerShell - with your work there, am I able to laterally move into a system via PowerShell remoting and leave absolutely no trace? Again, that last question is an example, but this is what I am after (as your advisor), and you should be too.  

    But as a basic level, again, assuming I'm your PhD advisor, you're coming at me with a non-formal background in coding, and you want me to fund your PhD (both pay your a stipend and a full ride for courses)? Put the shoe on the other foot for a second - would you take the risk? 

    As your PhD sponsor I need to provide results to entities that are funding me, like NSF, DoD, ONR, DARPA, etc. So I submit all kinds of proposals for my work to get funding, and I hire grad students to get me the results. And, in turn, they get advanced degrees and get paid a paltry stipend to do it. But at the end of the day, this is how it's done. 

    So, would I take the risk? I personally like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I would take you on for a year to see what you're made of.

    Final advice: You need to ask yourself if this is what you really want. If I were you, I would sync with an advisor where you adjunct who knows you and is willing to take you on. His or her word would come in to play for admissions decisions.

    If you have any other questions, PM me. I am not trying to put you on blast or sound arrogant. I'm coming to you real with a dose of reality, to benefit you and others on TE that may have the same question.

    VV5 out.
    B.S. Electrical Engineering, M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, PhD Electrical and Computer Engineering
    J.D. Candidate (2L)
    In the books: CompTIA Network+, Security+, CEH, Associate of (ISC)^2, GIAC: GSEC, GAWN, GCIH, GPEN, GCFA
    ProBoard: FF I & II; HAZMAT: Awareness, Operations, and Technician; Fire Instructor I; NREMT: EMT-B. Next up: Fire Officer I
    Currently Working on: PE-Electrical and Electronics, Patent and State Bars, and Juris Doctor (law degree)
    Next: GCIA/GCWN and/or GCUX/PMP/GSE
    Next after next: Med school!!!!! Lol
  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 103 ■■■□□□□□□□
    What he said! :lol:

    Just kidding. I was going for a PhD in CyberSecurity but dropped it because the one professor didn't like how we were able to get information and do classes online.
  • VictorVictor5VictorVictor5 Member Member Posts: 72 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @Grafixx01 - seriously? Isn't that the whole point of this field is to get information from exclusive places? To me that would show novelty.
    B.S. Electrical Engineering, M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, PhD Electrical and Computer Engineering
    J.D. Candidate (2L)
    In the books: CompTIA Network+, Security+, CEH, Associate of (ISC)^2, GIAC: GSEC, GAWN, GCIH, GPEN, GCFA
    ProBoard: FF I & II; HAZMAT: Awareness, Operations, and Technician; Fire Instructor I; NREMT: EMT-B. Next up: Fire Officer I
    Currently Working on: PE-Electrical and Electronics, Patent and State Bars, and Juris Doctor (law degree)
    Next: GCIA/GCWN and/or GCUX/PMP/GSE
    Next after next: Med school!!!!! Lol
  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 103 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @VictorVictor5 , yeah. I guess that he was / is an older guy who wasn't in school when the Internet was around. (Don't ask me HOW he was part of a PhD program for IT Security though) I had a 4.0 GPA before his class, then had a few arguments/discussions with him about the Internet, class, assignments. I ended up with a like 1.8 GPA after he failed me. I talked with the school, they ended up changing it to an "Incomplete" and told me to come back. I asked if there was another teacher for the course, they said not at that time. I was like, 'Well, then I can't come back because he's just going to end up with the same issue." He started with 1 8-10page paper a week, discussions on the class forum for each student amounting to be no less than 3 pages if typed on a piece of paper which was once a week and the responses had to be 2:1 (you respond to two other students and 'spark' a conversation and you only post 1 original post) but the response posts had to be 3-4 pages typed.

    I was like, "Dude, you're talking like 40+hrs a week devoted to JUST your class. All of the students work, have families and are doing the degree 75% online because of it. It is supposed to work WITH us, not 100% against us!" His response, "Yeah? And so what? If you can't handle the workload, maybe a PhD just isn't in your cards."
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited March 5
    @Graffixx01 - My MSc was like that, except our papers were 50 pages long (and bi-weekly).  That is pretty much the norm for online graduate level courses, from what I have seen (limited exposure).  Also, we do this in the undergrad courses, but with a bit less rigor (e.g. an initial post of maybe 1 page, and then two responses that are "interesting enough", I say about a paragraph).  With the volume of work, it rarely has the desired intent of sparking a real conversation; I have seen maybe one or two threads turn into real conversations.
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  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 103 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @powerfool I know, I did a bunch of my MS stuff online, however, it was not like, "Oh wait, you have a family, work and still want a life... NOPE! Spend your time doing all this work and  you will not see your family and might as well take a sabbatical from work too!"

    The issue with the posts, not only did you have to post a long post, then the rebuttals to others needed to be like 2x as long almost, he wanted EVERYTHING sited! You were not allowed to have ANY opinions in the post, response or a rebuttal to someones response. It was nuts.
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    @VictorVictor5 - I appreciate the effort, but I would have to say that it is being overly critical.  I didn't provide background as a means to prove that I am already prepared, it was just for some context.

    I think I stated it fairly clearly, as well: "If I were to pursue a PhD in CompSci, or at least want the ability to apply and not be rejected, where should I be?  Should I get beyond my Calculus I and Stats in terms of mathematics?  Do I need a BSc in CompSci?  Would maybe completing an ASc in CompSci along with my other work be enough?"  I have absolutely zero expectation that I don't have some work that I need to do ahead of time.  I was looking for something more along the lines of "addressing some prerequisite courses will be good enough" or "you will likely want to complete a BSc in CompSci".

    I have no idea where I would apply at this point (the institution that I adjunct for now doesn't have graduate level courses, so it wouldn't be there).  I was originally looking at Indiana State, but it looks like they don't have the program that they used to.
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  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 103 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @powerfool ... When I went to an ISC2 conference in DC a few years back, there was a school called Capella there, they had some PhD level programs and I believe they are based up in the Indiana / Illinois area. I also saw them a few years back when I went to BlackHat. Don't know how great they are though I do see that they are like a 'gold' school for the DoD / VA.
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    @Graffix01 - They advertise in the CISSP literature.  I am not sure, they seem like one of the for-profit schools that might not cut it for a faculty position if I want to pursue that later.
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  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 103 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @powerfool - I've seen / noticed a good majority of schools, especially if they have a good online presence, do not want graduates from their school to teach at that school after graduation. Its weird, I don't know why, I guess because they feel the professor will **** the students... 
  • stryder144stryder144 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,633 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Silly question, I suppose.  Will universities allow someone to become a professor if they have a DSc instead of a PhD?  I've noticed that some schools, like Capitol Technology University, have DSc programs and Dakota State University switched from a DSc to a PhD.  Just wondering what the difference is, overall, between the degrees.
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 103 ■■■□□□□□□□
    From my quick research online, a PhD is usually held in higher regard than a DSc; except in the UK. This is because most PhDs require formal teaching at like a undergrad and graduate level.  
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,129 Mod
    @powerfool Look Computer Science is a broad field and your dissertation can be in an area that's not necessarily in programming (for example it can be in Algorithms, theoretical comp sci (which is math..), or even in human behaviour(yes they fall under comp sci departments).

    Look @VictorVictor5 's view is actually a realistic view of a PhD. However, I'd say the first step is to find the universities that are realistic for you (say in your geographical area). So find a few universities that you can see yourself doing a PhD at and living there for 5-6 yrs, this depends on your family commitments and your other life commitments.

    Once you do that, contact the Comp Sci departments there. Look at the professors profiles and see their research interests, and if you find ones that are doing something that you're interested in, contact them and see where you can go from there. Sure you may need to do some foundational courses, but that won't be the end of the world


    I agree with @VictorVictor5 , a PhD isn't a plan B, it's a 5-6 yrs full time commitment where you will have to work very hard on a minimum wage. and once you graduate, you're not guaranteed a teaching position, you will need to find Postdoc positions...tenured teaching positions are hard to land.

    (disclaimer, I don't have a PhD but I got admission years ago and never pursued it. My colleagues have.. My undergrad is in Electrical and Computer Engineering.).



    PS: It's good to you see post again mate, I hope you've been well!
    Goal: MBA, Jan 2021
  • VictorVictor5VictorVictor5 Member Member Posts: 72 ■■■□□□□□□□
    @powerfool Again I apologize if I am being overly critical, but again, this is not a light decision to make (as I know that you are aware), and my colleague @UnixGuy pointed out. My PhD experience, frankly, sucked, and I don't wish my experience on anyone. That's long story over beverages that may cause inebriation. That's why when fellow TE members post about getting dissertations, I have to give them food for thought. Not to dissuade anyone at all (no - in fact I am a huge supporter), but I don't want to see you or anyone go through what I did.  

    I guess my effort started when a fellow TE member mentioned that a PhD only took two years. I was floored! :-) We're good though. I think that person is actually trying to be published. 

    I know online universities are offering PhDs like Dakota State (I believe a PhD in IA). As long as it's accredited, and you do original publishable work (as in peer-reviewed articles) you will be good in academia, because this is what they look for. If you were to go to, say U. Phoenix or Strayer of a PhD, I offer caution if you hope to teach at an academic institution.

    I am here as a resource as someone who has it and not being a braggart. If you knew me personally that is really not who I am. Matter of fact, only rarely do I pull the "Doctor" card. 

    Again, I offer my assistance to you should you need it. Feel free to PM me.
    B.S. Electrical Engineering, M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, PhD Electrical and Computer Engineering
    J.D. Candidate (2L)
    In the books: CompTIA Network+, Security+, CEH, Associate of (ISC)^2, GIAC: GSEC, GAWN, GCIH, GPEN, GCFA
    ProBoard: FF I & II; HAZMAT: Awareness, Operations, and Technician; Fire Instructor I; NREMT: EMT-B. Next up: Fire Officer I
    Currently Working on: PE-Electrical and Electronics, Patent and State Bars, and Juris Doctor (law degree)
    Next: GCIA/GCWN and/or GCUX/PMP/GSE
    Next after next: Med school!!!!! Lol
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    @VictorVictor5. Yet it appears you’re walking the path again with a JD.  I consider myself a life-long student and you appear to be similar.  I have been considering some doctoral program for nearly 15 years.  And then med school :smile:

    I actually regretted my MSc because I rushed it.  I enjoy learning.  I can and do certainly do learn on my own, but I also greatly enjoy structured paths.  I have 160+ undergrad credit hours between nearly double majoring in German and dabbling in both physics and electrical engineering.  What has held me back to date has been having a family, but my youngest is now in high school, so I am thinking I can get back to something I always felt inclined to do.  We’ll see how it goes.  I don’t need a PhD to teach as I am already doing that, but I enjoy challenges.
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  • VictorVictor5VictorVictor5 Member Member Posts: 72 ■■■□□□□□□□
    edited March 6
    @powerfool Yes - The JD was a decision I made based on what happened to me during grad school. As relayed in another post on the forum and not trying to get into too much detail about the situation, plain and simple (and not so eloquently) I got screwed. 

    I didn't base the decision solely on that, but it was a big factor. Plus it doesn't hurt to be on scholarship, since law schools are hurting for students. @Grafixx01 can second me on that! :-) 

    That will never happen again (getting screwed). Me being a licensed attorney will ensure that it won't, because I'll sue for damages.

    I applaud lifelong learners. I want you to succeed. True you don't need a PhD to teach, but if you want to go for the PhD, then let's see if we can work out a strategy. You can do it, and you know that you can. It is never too late.

    I will help you in any way I can.
    B.S. Electrical Engineering, M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, PhD Electrical and Computer Engineering
    J.D. Candidate (2L)
    In the books: CompTIA Network+, Security+, CEH, Associate of (ISC)^2, GIAC: GSEC, GAWN, GCIH, GPEN, GCFA
    ProBoard: FF I & II; HAZMAT: Awareness, Operations, and Technician; Fire Instructor I; NREMT: EMT-B. Next up: Fire Officer I
    Currently Working on: PE-Electrical and Electronics, Patent and State Bars, and Juris Doctor (law degree)
    Next: GCIA/GCWN and/or GCUX/PMP/GSE
    Next after next: Med school!!!!! Lol
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