How Many Publications Does One Need to Get a Ph.D. in Computer Science?

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The following answer is based on my experience as a doctoral researcher in distributed systems. Computer science is a big field with vast differences in the quality and quantity requirements of your Ph.D. supervisor.

Having said this, you’ll probably need somewhere between two to five publications to get a Ph.D. in computer science.

I have created a simple calculator just for fun — try it yourself here: 👇

At the end of this article, I’ll also give you a full table for your reference.

The quality of the venues is more important than the quantity of publications. It’s much better to have one publication at a top-tier conference than to have dozens of publications on small workshops nobody reads.

However, you need both quantity and quality to have a shot for top-tier conferences with close to 20% acceptance rates. It’s not an either-or decision. You need to have it all.

To get accepted to two top conferences (assuming a 20% acceptance rate) during your 4y research program, you need to submit 10 research papers on average. But you won’t be average when you are just starting out. You will be worse (sorry) because you compete with many skilled and experienced researchers.

Therefore, if you submit a research paper every two to three months, you are safe and will likely be accepted to two to four conferences during your research time. This will be enough (content-wise) to set up your first draft of the doctoral thesis.

University, Advisor, Area, AimEstimated Number of Papers
Top-tier University, High Expectation Advisor, High Publication Area, Aiming for Academia6+ papers
Top-tier University with High/Moderate Expectation Advisor in High/Moderate Publication Area4-6 papers
Top-tier University with Low Expectation Advisor or Low Publication Area2-4 papers
Mid-tier University with High Expectation Advisor in High Publication Area4-6 papers
Mid-tier University with Moderate Expectation Advisor or Moderate Publication Area2-4 papers
Mid-tier University with Low Expectation Advisor in Low Publication Area1-2 papers
Lower-tier University with High/Moderate Expectation Advisor2-4 papers
Lower-tier University with Low Expectation Advisor1-2 papers

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