I have already been enrolled in a PhD program and published a couple of papers. When I eventually get the certificate, it will state that I have a PhD in Computer Science. However, I can submit a request to change that to whatever I find more appropriate. I am asking here to be better informed before I raise the issue with my supervisor.

My research paves the way for machine-learning based solutions to be used for solving a particular software engineering problem.

I find (PhD in Computer Science) too broad of a description and (PhD in Software Engineering) too narrow. I also find (PhD in Artificial Intelligence OR Machine Learning) not to be an accurate description of what my thesis is actually about.

Should I, for example, use (PhD in Applied Artificial Intelligence) or (PhD in Applied Machine Learning)? Other suggestions will be appreciated.

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    I also have had to think about that. My research is in optimal transport with applications in machine learning. I could list it as comp sci, machine learning, applied statistics, probability, AI etc. etc. I go with choosing what I think describes my skills, background and interests the best, so I go with applied maths. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 13:14
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    Nobody (in ML) cares what area your PhD is in, as long as you're doing good (ML) research.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 23:02
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    Given automated and non-knowledgeable human resume-scanning, I would stick to "Computer Science". If you pick something unusual, you risk not being considered for jobs that require a PhD in Computer Science. Your list of publications will make your research area(s) clear. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 13:55
  • @PatriciaShanahan Thanks. If you add your comment as an answer, I will accept it as such. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 9:53
  • I'm amazed that you can change the name of the degree you are getting! I would have thought that, if you enroll in the "Ph.D. in Computer Science" program, you would get a parchment saying just that and precisely that..
    – user67075
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 5:20

2 Answers 2


Many employers and recruitment agencies use either automated searches or low skill human readers to select resumes that meet specific requirements. Only those resumes will be viewed by a human with knowledge of the job etc.

If you pick an unusual subject designation for your PhD you risk your resume not being selected for jobs that require a PhD in computer science. It may never be seen by anyone who understands that "Applied Machine Learning" is just as appropriate for that job as "Computer Science".

If your resume passes the filter it will be read by someone who can evaluate your specialization from the text and the publication list.


First, it depends on what kind of PhD your institutions offer. Also note, that the number of different types varies by country. In general I would advice to choose some title which is likely to be meaningful in a few years/decades from now. For example AI was a great hype some decades ago, went out of fashion then, and is top notch again now and maybe nobody will be interested in "Machine Learning" a few years from now. So I would go with the broader field, in general.

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