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PhD Computer Security

Computer security is a fast growing industry in today’s technology-driven economy. The use of computer systems can be seen in almost every organization today. Losing computer data and other important information can be devastating for businesses. Protecting vulnerable electronic data has become an absolute necessity. According to The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), President Obama stated in 2009:

America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend upon cyber security

Seeing the need for computer security, the demand for computer security specialists and analysts has grown. US News & World Report has listed computer security among the best occupations to go for.

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Doctorate in Computer Security

Doctorate degree programs are offered in almost all academic discipline. If you want to pursue leadership roles in the growing computer security industry, you may need a post-graduate qualification. A PhD in computer security will focus on advanced theoretical concepts and will allow you to learn about computer information systems and security technologies used in different industries.

Doctorate degree programs generally entail the following components:

  • Coursework
  • Interdisciplinary Research project
  • Oral Comprehensive Exam
  • Prospectus dissertation

Each component of the degree carries a certain number of credit hours. Usually, the credit hour requirement for this program ranges between 90 and 130. The duration of the program can range anywhere from 4-8 years.

Objectives of a Doctoral Degree

  • Build knowledge of the fundamental and advanced areas of the chosen field
  • Acquire mastery in conducting research
  • Demonstrate expertise in researching and disseminating knowledge


As a student of this program, you will come across many advanced theoretical subjects. Each subject will highlight an important part of the field. Developing a strong understanding of computer security and technologies is crucial. The coursework may vary a little from school to school. However, general areas covered in the program include the following:

  • Computer Security (3-6 credits)

This module focuses upon the basic areas of computer security. You will acquire a fundamental understanding of computing, security concerns, and programming. It is important to learn about the basics before moving onto more advanced courses.

  • Network Security (3-6 credits)

Networking security will cover types of networks, security measures used by organizations, wireless security, and web security.

  • Operating Systems (3-6 credits)

This course covers basic programming tools, design, and implementation of computer systems. You will acquire an in-depth understanding of different operating systems and file systems.

  • Programming Languages and Translator (3-6 credits)

The course will focus upon different types of programming languages used. You will cover areas such as compilers, interpreters, and translation tools.

  • Artificial Intelligence (3-6 credits)

This subject focuses on the development of intelligent computer systems and their role in today’s fast-moving economy. Topics such as problem reduction, calculus, and resolution theorem-proving are included in this course.

  • Secure Programming (3-6 credits)

Secure programming highlights the countermeasures used for software-based attacks. You will learn about SQL injection attacks and buffer overflows.

  • Cryptography (3-6 credits)

This course covers cryptography systems, its theory and practice. Areas such as symmetric and public-key systems are also introduced to students.

  • Database Management (3-6 credits)

You will learn about the different types of data used in organizations and how they are managed through databases. The course will teach you how to efficiently manage data, retrieve data, and store data.

Interdisciplinary Research Project

You must complete a research project which will provide you the opportunity to acquire research experience and also assess your research skills. The project must show the purpose of your research and expected findings.

Oral Comprehensive Exam

This part of the program is typically completed prior to starting the dissertation and thesis. Students must undergo a comprehensive examination that will test their knowledge in the research area. The exam comprises of the following main areas:

  • Survey of the area (annotated bibliography)
  • Presentation of the position paper
  • Private oral examination conducted by the committee members or faculty member

Prospectus and Dissertation

This is the final phase of the doctorate degree. You must identify an unresolved research problem and write a dissertation proposal. You will then carry out a research with the help of faculty members, and according to guidelines.

How to Apply for Admission

The general admission requirements for a PhD in computer security are:

  • Complete an application form
  • Submit a resume/CV
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Submission of a master and bachelor degree official transcripts

The admission requirements are most likely to vary with different institutes. Some colleges may ask for a statement of purpose as well. It is best that you seek information about the admission criteria from the schools you have selected.

What can you do with a PhD in Computer Security?

With a PhD Degree in computer security, you can apply for jobs in a variety of organizations. Doctorate level degree holders often qualify for executive and leadership job roles. Here are a few job positions you can consider. The data has been provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012).

Information Security Analyst

  • Median annual wage:$86,170
  • Growth rate: 37%
  • Job Duties: design and implement security plans, carry out security measures, and counteract cyber-attacks.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

  • Median annual wage:$72,560
  • Growth rate: 12%
  • Job Duties: manage day-to-day operations of organizational networks and databases

Computer Systems Analysts

  • Median annual wage:$79,680
  • Growth rate: 25%
  • Job Duties: develop and maintain an organization’s information system. Introduce measures that increase efficiency and productivity.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Can you tell me the coursework and admission requirements for computer security doctoral programs?

A:The purpose of computer security doctoral programs is to enable students to conduct research in many areas. Students work on various projects and new research ideas related to technology and computer security. Usually, the admission requirements for a doctorate program include a strong undergraduate academic record and some research experience.

Q:What documents will I have to submit for entrance into the phd computer security program?

A:For entrance into a PhD program you need to have completed a master's degree in a related field of study such as Information Technology or Cyber Security. Along with this you will need to provide copies of you resume, letter of recommendation and official transcripts from your previous studies. A filled and completed application form used by school will need to be provided as well. These documents can be submitted online in most cases.

Q:Why do a doctorate in computer security?

A:A doctorate in computer security can enable individuals to pursue a number of viable career options. Individuals can conduct research in a specialized field of computer security and governments and private sector organizations are particularly seeking out individuals with a PhD in computer security, owing to the growing rate of sensitive electronic data and online transactions.

Q:How long does it take to get computer security PhD degree?

A:A PhD in computer security typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete. These students are trained to deal with security breaches through subjects such as risk management, compliance and information confidentiality. The program would mostly end with a dissertation, which is a complete work of original research that is carried out under the supervision of set faculty members.

Q:What are the admission requirements for computer security PhD degree?

A:To be eligible for a computer security PhD program, you must meet a certain criteria which varies from college to college. You will be required to hold a bachelor's or master's degree. Along with that, you will need to submit your transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume and a personal statement. In addition to that, you may also be required to pass an entrance exam.

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