PhD in Computer Science In Canada: Best Doctorate Degrees & Top Universities

6 min read

A Computer Science PhD course in Canada will allow you to learn from industry experts and access advanced course material. A PhD in Computer Science consists mostly of independent original research that contributes significantly to the industry knowledge in the computer science discipline.

Students looking to do a PhD in Computer Science in Canada often have to make their decisions based on the best doctorate degrees available in terms of specialisation and second the best universities offering courses in the area of study. 

We will attempt to cover both these aspects in our guide. 

Best PhD Computer Science Courses

Getting into a PhD program in Computer Science in some of the best universities and colleges across Canada is easier said than done. Considering it’s a PhD program, there won’t be a lot of seats available at any point. The best approach is to find the right course and apply at the right time. 

Computer Science – Bioinformatics at McGill University, Quebec

It’s a thesis-based program helping students learn deeply about experimental design strategies. In this, students will learn to analyse datasets, computation, modelling techniques and work with the bioinformatics data. 

Towards the end of the course, the students need to furnish a thesis that shows the advancements in the field and its application backed with extensive research. 

Computer Science PhD at University of Alberta, Camrose

This PhD course in Computer Science is meant for students who have completed their MSc. degree in Computer Science or a related domain. Before joining the course, you need to select one of the pre-approved research areas of:

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Bioinformatics
  • Communication Networks
  • Machine Learning
  • Robotics

There are several other fields, but the ones listed above are more popular. You have to submit an extensive research report within five to six years during the course. 

In addition to this, the residency requirement at the University of Alberta is to have two years of full attendance of the course work. 

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science at University of Toronto

At the University of Toronto, you can join the PhD program consisting of research and course work in different domains. This includes software engineering, numeral analysis, data structures, graph theory, computer vision (including graphics, media, and visual analytics), robotics, programming language, and interactive computing. 

As one of the best universities for a PhD in Computer Science in Canada, the University of Toronto poses a challenging process for enrolment. You need to show the relevant expertise, good grades in the graduate program, and experience for gaining admission. 

Here, you also have the option to directly join the PhD program after completing your Bachelor’s degree; in this case, the program runs for five years. Otherwise, it will take four years to complete the PhD course. 

PhD in Computer Science at University of New Brunswick

The PhD program at the University of New Brunswick in Computer Science consists of three advanced courses along with one research topic. It will take three years to complete the entire program, where the students will be under the supervision of faculty members from the relevant department. 

You can choose from five core areas, including algorithms on data structures, operating systems, software engineering, computer architecture, and programming languages. 

Computer Science PhD at University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo presents several unique and advanced subjects for PhD studies. Some of the fields you can choose from are Artificial Intelligence, databases, Machine Learning, quantum computing, bioinformatics, computer engineering, scientific computing, and systems & networking.

It is a thesis-based study program, and students require a Master’s degree in Computer Science with at least 78% of marks. Other formats of PhD programs you can choose from are:

  • PhD Comprehensive – I (Breadth)
  • PhD Comprehensive – II (Depth)
  • PhD Seminar Requirement
  • PhD Internship

Students joining the course with a Master of Science degree will have to attend 4 one-term courses, and the ones joining after a Bachelor’s degree will have to attend 8 one-term courses. 

These are the top five programmes for PhD in Computer Science in Canada you can join to understand different variables of computational complexity and find or discover solutions to the same. Besides these courses, almost every prestigious university in Canada offers PhD programs under the Department of Computer Science. In the next section, you will find the best universities offering PhD courses. 

Best Universities in Canada for PhD

A total of 98 universities and institutions offer PhD courses in Canada, and every year they are ranked according to different parameters. To create this list of the best universities for PhD in computer science in Canada, we have referenced the university rankings. 

University of Toronto: As one of the premier institutions in the country, the University of Toronto incubates leadership skills and advanced knowledge in students enrolled in PhD courses. 

The programs include advanced information studies building a professional capacity in the students. Moreover, the university’s amazing campus and ecosystem further help students evolve. 

University of British Columbia: The doctoral studies here are provided in several fields, including Computer Science. Students will be admitted to the university upon verification of the documents and after ensuring that they have completed the Master’s degree from a university equivalent to the ones provided in Canada.

Other than this, the faculty at UBC is excellent and provides students with the required coaching as well as mentorship to selected students. 

McGill University: The Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) at McGill University are available for national and international students. Students here are prepared and exposed to advanced studies in different fields. They can access state-of-the-art facilities and research centres and attend international conferences. 

Under the Residency Program, students can continue for up to 7 years. However, the tenure can be reduced depending on previous educational achievements. 

McMaster University: The PhD studies at McMaster University, Ontario, offer advanced knowledge in different fields, one of which is Computer Science. The students enrolled here learn computational theories in their chosen field and conduct intensive research for advanced understanding. 

You can enrol after completing a Master’s degree in fields of interest besides Computer Science. However, the program requirements for applicants with a non-Computer Science background are different.

University of Montreal: A PhD degree from the University of Montreal awards 90 credits to the students and helps them learn advanced research methods required to work on a dedicated research project. The duration of the PhD course runs from 3 to 5 years. 

Enrolling in the Computer Science PhD program here gives students access to the advanced knowledge pool of the faculty and study material provided on campus. Besides the thesis, your understanding of Computer Science and its related fields will be assessed.

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Cost of a PhD Program in Canada

Different universities and colleges in Canada offer different costs for the program. You will spend between CAD 2500 and CAD 17,000 per year on the entire program. This is only the cost of enrolling into the program and does not include the living expenses like accommodation, food, transport, etc. 

Another set of variables comes into play when getting into the PhD session via a structured program. For instance, if you enrol after completing a Bachelor’s degree, the costs might be higher. 


Completing a PhD in Computer Science in Canada involves an in-depth study of the chosen field, in this case, Computer Science. The students will conduct extensive research apart from gaining practical knowledge of the subject area. 

Make sure to check the admission requirements before enrolling in a Computer Science PhD program. You will need to submit the required documents, including transcripts of previous academic qualifications and proof of English language proficiency (IELTS or TOEFL score). 

By meeting the requirements, you can apply to any of these best universities for a PhD in Computer Science in Canada.  

Frequently Asked Questions

After completing my PhD, can I stay back in Canada to get a job?

Yes, you can stay in Canada and work after completing your studies under the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP). Under this, you can stay in Canada to earn valuable work experience for three years. 

Can I work while pursuing a PhD in Computer Science in Canada?

Yes, students in Canada can work while studying for a limited period of 20 hours a week. However, while doing a PhD, you may be asked to reduce the time limit to 10 hours a week, which is shared in the application process, if applicable.

Are there any scholarships for pursuing a PhD in Canada?

Yes, there are several scholarships applicants can choose from for easing their financial burden, including the tuition fees for PhD completion. There is the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CAD 50,000) and the University of British Columbia Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (CAD 18,200), among others.

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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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