According to a recent Computing Research Association report, the percentage of undergraduate students enrolled in a computer science majors has risen by double digits for the third year in a row. And Ph.D. enrollment in computer science is also up.
The CRA report was compiled from the responses of 193 academic departments in the US and Canada that grant Ph.D.’s in computer science, computer engineering or information. In the US, the 2011-2012 academic year saw the number of US undergraduates enrolled in a computer science major increase by 19.8 percent from the previous year.
Computing majors, in particular, are riding a wave of popularity. In the 2011-2012 academic year, the number of new undergraduate computing majors in U.S, computer science departments rose nearly 30 percent from the previous academic year, marking the fifth consecutive year of increased enrollment in computing majors.
Peter Harsha, the CRA’s director of government affairs, told Computerworld that while computer science enrollment numbers “are somewhat cyclical based on the perceived strength of the IT sector...students are much more aware of the importance of computational thinking in just about every other field of science and technology.”
They are also aware of the major’s marketability. “Students see that a degree in computer science gives them access to a wide range of well-paying careers,” Harsha told the outlet.
In the 2011-2012 academic year, a reported 1,929 doctorate degrees in computer science were awarded, the highest number to date. Despite this increased supply of job candidates, the unemployment rate for new Ph.D.s in computer science dipped significantly, from 1.6 percent in 2010-2011 to 0.4 percent in 2011-2012 .To put this in perspective: a recent analysis by the Wall Street Journal estimates that only 55 percent of recent law school graduates hold jobs that require a law degree.
No wonder computer science enrollment is growing.
The percentage of women among bachelor’s graduates in computer science also rose (albeit less dramatically) from 11.7 percent in the 2010-2011 academic year to 12.9 in 2011-2012.