Computer science classrooms in universities are getting crowded these days.

Graduate enrollment in computer science programs (a highly-competitive recruitment arena for hiring start-ups) is growing rapidly thanks to enthusiasm from international students, women, and even the government.

“I’ve been working here for four years, and when I started at GW, we were just struggling for students,” said Luis Acevedo, the advanced degree program coordinator for computer science at George Washington University. “And the last couple of years, the applications have incremented.”

Nationally, the National Science Foundation reported that graduate enrollment in computer science grew a healthy 6 percent between 2007 and 2009, capping off a 10 percent overall growth for the decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated employment of computer scientists should increase 19 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Graduate enrollment grew 48 percent over the last four years at GWU, according to the GW Hatchet.

“That’s the hot field,” Acevedo said. “If you look at your desktop right now, you are connected to the Internet. I have my iPod connected to the Internet. I have my iPhone connected to the Internet. And you need people to secure those systems.”

He said that GWU boasts an endorsement by the Department of Defense to sponsor students to protect cyber networks—and luckily, domestic applications are increasing. He said many U.S. students who studied liberal arts in college return to graduate school for computer science training, and said a rising number of women are sending in applications, as well.

While interest is growing in the homeland, Acevedo said the international presence remains strong; 70 percent of the students come from abroad, and in particular from India and China.